Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Are You a Thermometer or a Thermostat?

A recent Family Life Moments to You posting suggested that most often when we enter a room we can gauge in an instant whether or not the mood is warm and friendly, tense, comfortable or serious. In this sense we are all “thermometers”, i.e. we read the emotional temperature in the room.

This made me think (a novel experience for me most of the time) that this concept applies to our marriages as well. It doesn’t take a Dr. Phil to know when our husbands or wives are in an irritable, frustrated, playful, or happy mood. If the kids have been bouncing off the wall all day it should take the husband all of two seconds to know that his wife has had a particularly difficult day. If the husband comes home and is dejected, even though he says everything is “fine”, the wife knows better.

Here’s the insight – don’t be a thermometer – be a thermostat. Thermostats don’t just record the temperature of the room they have the ability to change the temperature of the room to make it comfortable.

So to the husband who comes in the door and realizes that a re-enactment of Hiroshima has taken place in the couple’s living room he might go up to his wife, say “I love you”, give her a big hug and say “how can I help you?”. (Most likely he will first have to get the smelling salts to revive his wife). To the wife who realizes that her husband of one word sentences is not really “fine” she could say something like “I just want you to know that I love you so much, I think you are the best husband in the world.” Guys thrive on affirmation and respect.

To carry the analogy a little further, learn to be a thermostat for God in whatever circumstance you find yourself. Tell the grumpy checkout clerk how much you appreciate their efficiency, tell the waitress/waiter what a great job they are doing, tell your child’s teacher how much you appreciate them, etc.

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