Richard and his wife, Keri, had struggled with their marriage for years. Despite initially being drawn together there was a clash of personalities between them that only got worse as they spent longer in their marriage. Richard found success as an author, but rather than easing their marital difficulties it seemed to exacerbate them. He ended up craving the freedom and relief that a book tour would bring him, although the relationship would then end up being even worse on his return.
The marriage was constantly on the edge of divorce, with them getting as far as discussing the matter. Knowing this, both Richard and Keri became more emotionally withdrawn.
It was one event that defined the rest of their relationship, the moment when Richard reached his breaking point.
He was away on a book tour and had just had yet another argument with Keri over the phone. She had hung up on him at the end and this left him in his hotel room, angry and alone. At that point he reached his limit, standing in the shower of the hotel room he began yelling at God. Decrying that marriage was wrong, that his marriage was wrong. He was in pain and confused, trying to work out why his marriage wouldn’t work. Richard knew that they were both good people, why would they fight all the time?
After wearing himself out with the shouting, he collapsed in the shower, crying.
In his lowest point he had the realisation that might save his marriage. Richard realised that he couldn’t change Keri, so that meant he would have to change himself. He began to pray, begging God to help him change, to show him what to do. He kept this up throughout the night and the journey home, it wasn’t until he was lying in bed next to Keri, having barely been acknowledged that he realised what he would do to bridge the gap between them.
When they awoke the following morning he turned to Keri and asked a simple question.
“How can I make your day better?”
Still furious Keri’s response was simply, “What?”
Richard repeated the question, remaining calm, “How can I make your day better?”
“You can’t! Why are you asking that?”
Richard answered honestly, “Because I mean it. I just want to know what I can do to make your day better.”
She retorted with bitterness, “You want to do something? Go clean the kitchen.”
Keri expected an argument over this comment and the previous day she would have got one. Instead Richard simply agreed, got up and cleaned the kitchen.
He started the next day with the same question.
“What can I do to make your day better?”
Keri was still suspicious but tried her luck, “Clean the garage.”
Richard managed to maintain his composure. Just a few days ago that would have been enough to start a full blown row and whilst he was sorely tempted to revert to this behaviour he contained his anger. Richard had a busy day and knew this would take at least a few hours but he managed to keep his promise to himself.
“Okay.” It took him two hours out of his morning but he cleaned the garage as Keri had asked.
The following morning Richard asked again, “What can I do to make your day better?”
This time Keri snapped at him, “Nothing! You can’t do anything! Stop saying that!”
“I’m sorry,” he told her, “but I can’t. I made a commitment to myself. What can I do to make your day better?” Read more