I was listening to one of my church CD's today and the woman was telling a story from one of the church magazines called The Grapefruit Syndrome. I loved it so much that I came home and looked it up and wanted to share it with you.
Lola B. Walters, “The Grapefruit Syndrome,” Liahona, Sep 1999, 24
As a young wife, I learned that marriage could be sweeter if I didn’t focus on my husband’s faults.My husband and I had been married about two years when I read an article recommending that married couples discuss truthfully and candidly the habits or mannerisms they find annoying in each other. The theory was that if partners knew of such annoyances, they could correct them before resentful feelings developed.
It made sense to me. I talked with my husband about the idea. After some hesitation, he agreed to give it a try.
As I recall, we were to name five things we found annoying. I started off. After more than 50 years, I remember only my first complaint: grapefruit. I told him I didn’t like the way he ate grapefruit. Instead of cutting it open and eating it with a spoon, he peeled it and ate it a section at a time. Nobody else I knew ate grapefruit like that. Could I be expected to spend a lifetime, and even eternity, watching my husband eat grapefruit like that? Although I have forgotten them, I’m sure my other complaints were of similar importance.
Then it was his turn. It has been more than half a century, but I still carry a mental image of my husband’s thoughtful, puzzled expression. He looked at me and said, “I can’t think of anything I don’t like about you.”
Gasp. I quickly turned my back, not knowing how to explain my tears. I had found fault with him over such trivial things, while he hadn’t even noticed any of my peculiar and no doubt annoying habits.
I wish I could say this experience completely cured me of faultfinding. It didn’t. But it did teach me early in my marriage that we need to keep in perspective, and usually ignore, the small differences in our spouse’s habits and personalities. Whenever I hear of married couples being incompatible, I always wonder if they are suffering from what I now call the grapefruit syndrome.
Sometimes (okay, often) we seem to find fault with each other over the smallest things. It might be the socks on the floor or the dishes in the sink. I could be the way a child makes a bed, or who leads family prayer. I think the grapefruit syndrome is applicable to both marriages and children.
When I look back years ago, I can't even remember why I was angry or what I was angry about. This goes for my experiences as a mother and as a wife. As a mother, I know I made many mistakes. I know that I yelled too much, that I did not have enough patience, that I did not always know what to say or how to say it. I know that I worked too much and worried over every little thing, (and the not so little ones too!). But the one thing I hope none of my children ever doubt, is that their mother loved them.
I always wanted them to know that and believe that. I wanted to be like the perfect mom that existed somewhere in my own mind, but she never managed to quite find her way out to my real life. Instead, they got an imperfect mom who tried the best she could to make their childhood at least a little better than hers had been.
My children have taught me so much and continue to teach me today. My husband truly treats me like a princess and a queen. He loves me exactly as I am and has never once found a fault that he asked me to change (he might have thought them, but he never voiced them to me!) I wish with my whole heart that I could go back in time and take away those grapefruit moments. I am not so good at knowing when to look and say simply, I love you, just as you are.
Now I finally understand that time is fleeting and but a small moment. Now I see how much those I love really mean to me. My family is so amazing! They have loved me through all my years and they have helped me to grow and become more of the person that I should be. I am so blessed to be surrounded by those who love me for myself and can forgive me for my grapefruit syndrome.
Together, Heavenly Father has given us that which we need to make it back to Him. We each have different strengths and weaknesses, but together we are complete and those strengths are enough to help us make it back home to Him.
If I could go back and change anything in my life, I think that I would not choose to do so. My Heavenly Father knew what I needed to help me become who He needed me to be. He knew what things I need to experience to make me the woman I have become. I am content with the things I have learned and continue to learn. I don't always like them when they are happening, but the blessings that come because of them are so meaningful to me.
May we each be more like the sweet husband who said, "I can’t think of anything I don’t like about you.”