Lessons from a Shower Curtain

Our shower curtain.  Isn’t it lovely?  For every shower curtain hanging in someone’s bathroom, there is a story.  This is mine (*disclaimer* The following conversations may be enhanced only ever so slightly by time and the desire to make a clear point on my blog.  But this is pretty much how it went)…

My lovely fiance (now my lovely bride) and I had been having a somewhat less than lovely experience registering for wedding gifts.  Some items had gone smoothly, but things had reached a tense crescendo at the china section of Dillard’s (aka The Gauntlet) the day before.  We agreed to lighten up.

A shower curtain.  This should be an easy place to make a decision, bring the anticipation of a touch of loveliness to our one bedroom newlywed apartment castle, and help us rebuild some positive momentum toward our wedding day.  Shower curtain…piece of cake…Let’s Do This!

As we strolled arm in arm into the first department store, she very graciously invited me to point out the style I liked.  Me: “I like this one with the big, bold stripes.”  Her: (look of slight disapproval) “Hmmm…how about a different one?”  Me: “Okay, I also like this other one with the big, bold stripes.”  Her: (look of growing annoyance, but still genuine graciousness) “Ummm…”  Me: (also showing the annoyed/gracious countenance) “Why don’t you show me what YOU like?”  Her: (grateful and looking relieved) “I love this one with the flowers!  Do you like it?”  Me: (best poker face) “Nah.  Not really.”  Her: (patiently and eagerly) “Okay, how about this other one with a lovely floral design?  How do you like this one?”  Me: (poker face fading fast) “I…don’t really…like…the ones with…flowers on them.”  Her: “Okay.  Well, what DO you like?”  Me: “I like the ones with big bold stripes.”  Her: “How about this lovely one with a pattern of small flowers on it?  See, they’re really small?  Do you like this one?”  Me: (feeling defeated, aggravated, yet still trying to be patient with the woman I love) “Maybe we could look at another store.”

We then proceeded to essentially repeat the above conversation at two or three other department stores around Baton Rouge.  Finally, with no shower curtain selected, we called off the hunt and called it a night.  The next day, as we were gearing up to face another round of this lovely expedition, something occurred to me, and I thought it was worth sharing with Chemaine…

Me: “You know, you kept asking me yesterday which shower curtain I liked, or whether I liked this or that one.”  Her: (looking as though she suspected I might be on something) “Yes, I remember.”  Me: “Well, I finally realized something you never asked me…”  Her: (bracing for something unspeakably horrific) “Okay…”  Me: “You never asked if I CARE about the shower curtain.”  Her: (a look that said I’d better start making sense real quick)  Me: “Well, you kept asking me whether or not I liked them, and I answered you honestly because you were asking.  And I really appreciate you asking me.  It lets me know you care about my opinion, and I appreciate it.”  Her: (waiting and listening)  Me: “But here’s the thing.  To me, it’s just a shower curtain.  I seriously don’t care what it looks like.  Pick what you like.  It’s just a shower curtain to me.  If I don’t like the way it looks, it honestly doesn’t matter to me.  This seems important to you, though.  Pick what you like.  Seriously.”  Her: (looking relieved and thrilled to be marrying the man of her dreams #PossibleEmbellishmentHere) “Thank you, Baby.  Let’s go find the perfect shower curtain!”  Me: “Great!”

We get to the store, and she took her time browsing around.  Then, suddenly, she lets out a squeal of delight, grabs me, and pulls me over to the object of her gaze.  And there it is…

Don’t expect me to describe it.  You’re looking at the picture!  Her: “This is it!  This is it!  It’s perfect!”  Me: “Terrific!  Let’s get it!”  Her: “Oh, thank you, Jesus!  (My wife is so delightful.)  This is just perfect!  And I know you said to just pick the one I like, but I am so glad I found one we will both like!”  Me: (looking at the shower curtain above, completely confused, but not daring to let on my confusion in this victorious moment) “Okay.  Right.  Good.”  (or just insert any staccato mindless blather here)

And that is the story of how we came to possess the lovely striped and flowered shower curtain that hangs before our shower to this very day.

I learned a very valuable lesson on that day.  When tackling a tough, gridlocked situation in marriage, it is ALWAYS helpful to take time to discover how your spouse FEELS about it, in addition to simply sharing opinions and solutions.  Our emotions drive us most of the time.

And that shower curtain now serves as a reminder of something much more important to me.  I look at those flowers twined around the big bold stripes, and I see my wife’s heart.  I am reminded to follow her example and consider how I can help her win, even as I seek to do what is good for me.  I am reminded of my favorite marriage passage – Philippians 2:1-12.  And I am reminded that my wife’s heart is truly lovely, and I am eager to keep facing the fun and the pain of life together with her.  It’s a great life!  I hope this post is insightful, helpful, or encouraging to you in some way.  If not…well, that’s okay with me.  I had a lot of fun writing it.  And remembering it.

p.s. – I don’t remember how many months or years it was before I finally told her that I actually didn’t like that shower curtain any better than the others, because it still had flowers on it, but that I loved the way she showed me her heart in the process.  We laughed.  Life is good.

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