Habit #9: Treat your spouse as if today were his/her last.
Not too long ago I suggested this notion to a friend and he was not exactly impressed with the wisdom of such an idea. “If I were to act as if today were my wife’s last day on earth”, he retorted, “then I would literally not leave her side”. Fair enough. This is true. But in taking this idea to an extreme, my friend missed the point.
So what is the point of making it a habit to treat your spouse as if today were your last day together? A couple of thoughts come to mind.
First, there is the idea (and I would assume a goal that most of us have) of living in such a way that by the time it is our turn to exit this life, we have accumulated as few regrets as possible. Since to be human is to be hopelessly imperfect, it is inevitable that we all have some regrets we must accept and live with. But our greatest and most painful regrets usually occur as a result of having said or done something to the ones we love the most. Granted, when we are able to apologize or “take back” what we are sorry for and promise to do better next time, we are able to dilute the regret factor and move on with little or no harm; nonetheless, it is inevitable that the regret remains to some degree.
It might at first seem to go without saying that the death or loss of our partner dictates that it is really too late to apologize or to take back any hurtful remark, unfair or abusive behavior, or any other actions we might be sorry for. But it needs to be said, and we all need to be reminded, because it is easy for most of us to forget. When we live as if this were our last day with our spouse, we go a long way in avoiding any regrets we might not be able to deal with and dilute tomorrow.
Secondly, in spite of the fact that it is highly unlikely that today will actually be the last we spend with our spouse, when we keep in mind the remote possibility, it will likely encourage the kind of attitudes and behaviors that are necessary to nourish and grow the kind of relationship that we desire and value. Living as if this were our last day with the one we love and cherish will have a positive impact on how we conduct ourselves in the very relationship that is supposed to be the most important and meaningful one we will have during our lifetime.
So living as if today could possibly be the last with our spouse helps us avoid behaviors and attitudes that lead to regrets, and at the same time motivates us to act in ways which bring about a deeper and more satisfying relationship.
Ed Wimberly, Ph.D. is the author of PARENTING WITH AN ATTITUDE....21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves