A friend posted on his blog about the Ten Week Positive Adjective Challenge.
The challenge: Once a week, for 10 weeks, choose one emotionally descriptive word that positively describes my wife.
- As a man, I broke through the boundaries of emotional simplicity and began to explore emotional complexity.
- This challenge forces me to positively define my wife. By doing this, I have to accept what I positively say to be true. Thus, it being written in black and white, the things I write become a permanent fixture here and most likely in the minds of the readers – including her.
- Growth. Always growth.
Since things are difficult in the wake of having one’s second child, I decided to take up his gauntlet and make the attempt. Here is week one.
Lots of people say that their wife is caring — if they think about it at all — but I am talking about something an order of magnitude removed from what most are thinking. A person who is caring can be thought of as one who shows care or compassion. I hate it when the dictionary uses a word to define the word, so care, as used in this definition, could mean worry, anxiety, concern, solicitude, heed, protection, keeping, or sorrow. This is the most apt description of my wife that I can think of.
My wife cares in the sense of being mindful (heed) of others. She thinks about our children and about her friends and about people in general. She is concerned for their well-being — physical (as one would expect of a nurse), but also mental and emotional and spiritual. And she is mindful of me.
My wife is also protective. If she is able to prevent harm to those about whom she cares, then she will. If there is a chance that she can have an impact, she will do whatever she is able in order to protect others.
My wife also mourns for others’ pain. It would be expected that a nurse would be adversely impacted by another’s physical suffering, but all suffering of every variety impacts my wife. She mourns for the suffering of those who come to emotional harm and spiritual harm, even when the wounds are self-inflicted. This will, I suspect, lead me into other descriptions of her, but I will leave it here for now.
None of the above gives any idea of why those qualities would draw me or be desirable in any fashion. Men, despite the common misconception, are fairly fragile things under all the bluster. Unconsidered words and ill-conceived remarks wound us more deeply than we want to admit — even to ourselves. That my wife is mindful of me is attractive. It means that she thinks about the potential impact before she lets fly her words. She is also protective. She has already demonstrated to me in many ways that she is protective of my well-being and she jealously guards our time — both as a couple and as a family. That she mourns other’s suffering is something that calls me to compassion — a thing to which I am too often insensate. She sees the suffering of others and is moved by it. I see it and too often wonder how it came to be. Her compassion reminds me that there is time enough to sort out how it happened once it has been dealt with.