His oldest daughter Hilary recently confessed him that the divorce of her parents was her greatest fear, but when she turned twelve, she thought to herself that maybe it would be better for everyone if they got divorced. While telling this truth, she looked him in the eyes and told him she was glad they figured things out at the end.
His name was David and her name Stacy. They both struggled for years in their marriage.
As the time passed by, they even forget how they ended up together. They couldn’t see the similarities anymore. Their personalities didn’t quite match up. The tension between them became so bad that going on a business trip, for him was a relief. They both became so defensive it was difficult to even imagine a peaceful relationship. They thought the only way out is a divorce and they discussed it more than once. When they reached their limit, David turned to God for the first time. He was so desperate it seemed like he was shouting at God, telling him that marriage is a bad idea in general and that he couldn’t do it anymore. As much as David hated the idea of getting divorce, he knew he couldn’t stay in this marriage for too long. He was confused at the same time since he couldn’t find out why his marriage with Stacy was so hard even though she was a very good person. And he was a good person himself.
He asked himself: “Why we don’t get along and why did I marry someone so different than me? Will she ever change?” In the depths of his desperation he thought of something he never thought before. “You cannot change her, David, you can only change yourself!” In that moment he turned to God and asked him to change him. He prayed all night and he prayed on the plane while traveling home that day. He prayed while entering his house and while preparing to go to bed. That night they both went to bed, inches from each other but miles and miles apart. At the very same moment he felt the same inspiration and knew what he had to do. When they woke up the next morning, he rolled up to Stacy’s side and asked her “How can I make your day better?”.
Stacy looked at him in confusion and asked him what he meant by that question. He asked again. Stone cold she replied “You can’t. Why are you asking me that now?”, David replied “Because I mean it and I really want to make your day better.” She looked at him like the question meant nothing to her and answered “You want to make me feel better? Go clean the kitchen.” David knew she thought he’d get mad, but instead he nodded in silence, got up and cleaned the kitchen without saying a word. The next day he asked her the same thing, “What can I do to make your day better?”. “You can clean the garage.”, she said. He was tempted to blow up at her since he had a busy day, but instead he nodded again in silence. He got up again and cleaned the garage as she requested. Stacy was still confused and wasn’t sure what to think. The next morning came, “What can I do to make your day better?”. “Nothing!”, she replied. “You can’t do anything can you please stop asking me that?”.
He apologized and told her he won’t stop since he made a commitment to himself so he asked her again, “What can I do to make your day better?”. She was still in confusion and didn’t know why this was happening for, so she asked, “Why are you asking me this, why are you doing it?”. After a moment of silence, he told her that he cared about her and their marriage. The next morning, he asked her the exact same thing. And so again the other. After a few days, a miracle happened, when he asked the question in the morning, Stacy’s eyes welled up with tears. Then she broke down crying. When she got her voice back, she said, “Please stop asking me that question! You are not the issue here, I am! I don’t know why you are even trying to stay with me.” He lifted her chin gently and said, “It’s because I love you. What can I do to make your day better?”. “I am the one who should be asking you that every morning!” she said. “You should.” he replied. “Maybe you should but when the time comes. And right now, I am the one who needs to change. I just want you to know how much you mean to me.”
She instantly hugged him and told him she’s sorry she was so mean to him the past few days. The both said they loved each other. “What can I do to make your day better?” she asked. “Maybe we can spend some quality time together, just you and I.” she said. “I would love to!” he replied. He continued asking her the same question for more than a month and things did change for sure. The fighting and the tension miraculously stopped. After a while, Stacy started asking, “What do you need from me? How can I be a better wife?”. And slowly but surely the walls between them broke down. They started talking about their feelings more and many other meaningful discussions. They just wanted to make each other happy. Even though they didn’t solve all their problems, but everything seemed smoother in their relationship. Everything seemed like it would be solved very easily. They still had occasional fights, like any other normal couple, but those fights lacked the energy they once had.
Stacy and David have now been married for more than thirty years. They not only love each other, but they like each other as well. They want to spend time together, as much as they can. They need each other. Many of their differences have become their strengths which they now value more than ever. They learned how to take care of each other and more importantly they even grew a desire to do so. Marriage is hard, we all know that. Parenthood even more. But to have a partner in life is the most valuable gift and it needs to be appreciated. We all have some parts that are unlovable, but in marriage you need to appreciate the good and the bad. “What can I do to make your day better?” holds a lot of love, care and affection. Every partner needs to hear those words. All of those romance novels, bestsellers, are all about desire and how to live happily-ever-after. Those unrealistic stories are building unrealistic expectations.
Happily-ever-after never comes from desire and passion. Real love is not to desire a person, or be passionate about them, but to truly desire their happiness and sometimes even at the expense of our own happiness. We should not strive to make the other person a copy of ourselves, but to expand our own capabilities od tolerance. Everything else is a self-interest.