Children are Windows
And spouses are Mirrors.
The main difference between a spouse and a child, is when a spouse doesn’t live up to what they are supposed to do, typically the response is frustration. With a child, it’s cute.
I have to admit, there was a time when I couldn’t imagine ever changing a diaper. Ever.
I mean, the language we use to describe it is so unfitting for the job. "Changing" is the least of the issues. As my friend Mark Schiff says, "A mother is the only person who can check a dirty diaper in the middle of eating dinner."
When my 4 year old describes his bowel movements – in shocking detail I might add – my wife and I get a little chuckle.
People keep scrapbooks of their kids developments through the years (ok not of their bathroom habits), their first shoes, first bike, etc. Yet who keeps the telephone record of when your spouse first hung-up on you, or a picture of the first dent your spouse made in the new car?
Why is there such a difference between a spouse and child?
Picture four windows. In one is other people’s struggles that we don’t have. In the second window are the people who have the same struggles as us, in the third are people who have conquered the struggles we are still battling. And in the fourth are those people who are struggling with issues we have conquered.
Windows 1 and 2 are easy to understand.
The first is our kids and the second is our friends. These windows are not threatening.
Most people are not personally struggling with the same issues as their toddler, or at least I hope not. That’s window 1.
We also feel comfortable with people who are working through the same struggles as us (window 2). Not only in the extremes, such as alcohol or drugs, but in the daily grind too. We like talking over our dieting, exercise or patience issues with people going through the same junk.
Where we don’t feel comfortable is with people who have conquered our issues (window 3) or people who are struggling with issues we have recently overcome (window 4).
And who is that? Our spouse, of course. We are in an almost constant state of either struggling with an issue our spouses have conquered or the other way around.
In other words, when you get angry or frustrated with your spouse, you have turned the window into a mirror: It isn’t your spouse who is aggravating you, it’s your own reflection.