Previously I wrote about how a leak in the laundry room reminded me of the damage caused by nagging. I’ve also previously written about my propensity for being a planner. Sometimes these two realities can come to crushing blows. After all, my desire to plan and get things done will prompt me to remind those I love, particularly my spouse, of all the things that need to be accomplished. At the same time, I don’t want to be a constant source of irritation and cause long-term damage through a frequent focus on the to-do list. So what am I to do? Is there any way to be a help without being a hindrance when it comes to this discussion?
I think there is, and like many things it starts with the condition of our hearts (See Lk. 6:45). Here’s what I mean. If I am reminding my husband of something that needs to be accomplished because I care about his good than he would probably consider that helpful and loving. If, however, I’m consistently reminding my husband about something because it’s something I want accomplished, then there’s probably an issue there. When I’m focused on the best ways that I can express my love to him in a way that is meaningful to him, he would probably welcome my assistance. When my ardent concern is for my own priorities, than the reminders I issue aren’t ones of love – they are ones of selfishness and pride. At that instant I have put my own desires as the primary objective, and if that’s the case, my objective isn’t to demonstrate my love.
I think one practical way to know the difference is to look at the frequency with which our “reminder” occurs. If I’m helping my husband accomplish something that is important to him, or important to our marriage (and thereby important to him), I’m probably not going to need to lovingly remind him of that on a frequent basis. After all, it’s important to him – it’s something that he wants to do. Therefore, my reminder isn’t an insistence on what I want, it’s assistance for what he desires. However, when my reminders are frequent, it’s a good indication that I’m focused on something that I think is important, without consideration of whether he think it is as well. I would be wise then to take the time to seek agreement on the issue’s importance rather than selfishly insisting on my own way.
The bottom line is this – I need to check my heart and see if my “reminders” are prompted by love or by self. The answer to that question will make all the difference in regards to their impact.