checklistMark: It all started with a conversation at small group last week. Jill and I were sharing about the 8 God-Tools we talk about in our No More Perfect Marriages book.  It was when we got to the God-Tool of acceptance that it struck her.

Jill: We had talked earlier about the God-Tools of forgiveness and grace and when to use them. We need to use the God-Tool of forgiveness when our spouse hurts us and we need to use the God-Tool of grace when our spouse irritates us.

Mark: Then we started talking about doors…locking them at night to be specific. Jill has asked me to make sure that I lock the doors at night before we go to bed. I remember it half of the time and I don’t even think of it half of the time.

Jill: Personally, I can’t imagine going to bed without locking the doors. I just wish I wasn’t the only one who thought about it! But when we were talking about the God-Tool of acceptance, that’s when I realized it. As a sequential thinker, I have lists in my head. There is a specific order to the way things are done. Locking the doors before we head upstairs is on my list. Now here’s the rub…Mark doesn’t even have a list in his head! He is a random thinker and his brain tends to hop from one thought to another…he thinks in chunks and in no particular order at all. We certainly see this concept–called mind styles–playing out in our relationship!

Mark: When we have company coming, Jill always has a list of things to get done in her head. I’ve learned to ask her to write down that list so I can help her.

Jill: And I gladly do! Mark’s not a mind-reader and he’s happy to help if he knows what needs to be done.

Mark: I honestly want to protect Jill and honor her request by locking the doors every night, but sometimes I simply don’t think of it. Or my brain shut off thirty minutes earlier. Or I miss the note I wrote myself to remember! Seriously!

Jill: As we shared about it at small group I realized that this is a place I need to use both my God-Tools of grace and Acceptance.  I need to accept that this is important to me and I will never forget it thanks to the list of “what to do on my way to bed” in my head. But I need to accept that there are no lists in Mark’s head. They simply don’t exist because his brain doesn’t work like mine. It’s not wrong…just different. Accepting that let’s him be him and let’s me be me. It irritates me he can’t remember, but by using my God-Tool of grace I can let go of my irritation. And then I can simply lock the doors myself and let it go.

Mark: And on the nights that I do remember, I simply tell her, “I just locked all the doors!”

Jill: And I simply say “thank you.”

What about you? What list are you trying to cram into your spouse’s head? What list do you need to get out of your head onto paper so your spouse can help you?