“A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.” – Jim & Elisabeth Elliot
I’ve heard this quote a while ago and Joe and I refer to concept often: That in actuality, I love about 80% of Joe. Hey just telling ya like it is. Everyone has got the 20% that their spouse doesn’t like. Those qualities and personality traits in each other that you wish you could change.
The 20% is not the stuff that is intentionally hurtful. The areas where you sin or are sinned against. I’m talking about the stuff you just don’t like. The stuff you would prefer he not do.
Joe will often ask me, but how am I doing with the 80%? And I’m like, yeah, you’re killing it with your 80%. I’m loving that!! But man the 20% can drive me crazy!!
This issue has the potential to wreck marriages because statistically speaking, someone else holds that 20% . Someone else “does it right” in the areas where your spouse always “does it wrong”. Someone else is so very strong exactly where your spouse is weak. I guarantee you that you can find that someone without even looking for it.
Just talk to any friend about their spouse for more than a moment or two and that discontent sinks in: your hubby does what?? My husband would never do that. You’re so lucky. I wish my husband was like that. That’s the #twentypercent. Of course she leaves thinking the same about your husband.
When I only think about: why you can’t you be more < fill in the blank> and why can’t you be less <fill in the blank>. When my mind lives there, discontent grows. Disconnection happens. Our marriage is filled with complaining and criticizing.
When people say no one is perfect, that includes your spouse. Every positive personality trait comes with a flip side that is equally aggravating- you can’t get one without the other. When I’m tempted to complain, I remember that if I traded in Joe’s 20%, I’d also lose everything that I love about him. It would be the worst trade I could ever make.
Like the Elliots shared, I’ve spent many years working diligently on fixing Joe’s 20%. It’s a tough job getting him up to my standards!! And maybe after 23 years, I might have only 18% of him left to work on:). But I need to decide: do I make my myself and my marriage miserable trying to nick away at that 18%? Or do I choose to truly appreciate the amazing 82% that God has given me? And I remind myself my husband still loves me despite my 20+%! In the end, that’s a good deal.