It was just a little thing. Don’t many, if not most, significant issues begin as little things? Don’t annoying molehills often grow and grow until they become insurmountable mountains?
A very little thing, indeed, it was: a small box of Buckeye chocolates. I had purchased them in Ohio for my secretary. Donnie ate them. Now I had no special way to say thank you to her for the extra work she had done to change my ticket (a long, not pertinent story). Moreover, this was not the first time. Rather, it is a familiar experience. I buy a food gift for someone, and when I am not hovering over it, protecting it, Donnie gobbles it down, seemingly not caring that it is mine.
How the little thing grew! My disappointment at not having the intended gift for my secretary led to disgust at Donnie’s size. That led to reprimand and search for punishment as with a child. I even considered making Donnie write, “I will not steal food” 50 times and magnetizing it to the refrigerator. That thought led to expressions of reprisal: since I am the only one with money in the bank this week, I told him I would leave him with no food while I was in Hawaii.
Certain that none of this would curb Donnie’s gluttonous behavior, I considered divorce. The man is worthless, I thought. He has no job, other than some occasional freelance work and typesetting for our press, and, now of possible retirement age, no longer makes any effort to find any employment. When we have extra money, he spends it, taking it out of our joint checking account secretly. (See Justice or Mercy?) So, I no longer put any money into that savings account. Yep, 100% worthless! Time to let him go, cut the cord, send him down the river!
How many times in 40 years have I considered divorce! Whether it is fortunate it or not (that depends upon my emotional state at the time), I always remember that darn promise: “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.” But why does almost every day have to be “in sickness” or “for worse?” Why can it not be in health and for better?
After all, I am perfect. I am never gone all the time on business, never too absorbed in writing to pay attention to matters that Donnie wants to discuss or considers important, always kindly ethical, always reasonable in my expectations. Oh, but wait! That’s my perception. Donnie, in picking me up at the airport, sometimes introduces himself and reminds me that we are married just in case my constant absence has caused me to forget him. And, oh, yes, I sometimes don’t remember important things he has told me or asked me to do because he talked to me while I was absorbed in some project and only half-listening. And, ah, yeah, there is that ethical thing. Donnie once gave a one-word answer to an investigative agent working on my security clearance who asked if I was ethical: “Brutally.” Finally, of course, if I did not admit that my expectations were a tad unreasonably high, I would have a pack of kids, friends, co-workers, employees, and even bosses standing in line to correct me.
So, instead of filing for divorce, I said a prayer. I did not ask for any answers about how best to handle Donnie’s chocolate-gobbling sin. Rather, I asked for the ability to see what is really important, for patience and perspective – both of which I sometimes find to be rare commodities.