“She’s different with me.”

This incident took place on May 2019.

I look in the rearview mirror. We’re going on a long drive; just a group of pastors traveling for work away from our families. For some reason I’m always the designated driver. It started in 2007 when my name was on the rental agreement and the role just stuck.

Today is no different. After a week of intensive study, we have a free day. We are driving 90 minutes to a historic landmark: the very first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Everyone in the car is asleep, except for him. I’ve known him for a long time, but really got to see his personal side more these past few years. Maybe that’s why I have the nerve to start this conversation.

Pastor _________, can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure, Joseph.”

“You know how some married couples look like they’re so sweet? Like their wives are especially very expressive of their affection. I noticed that your wife doesn’t seem to be like that. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I think she and Carla are similar.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Carla doesn’t like things that are too mushy. Sometimes I see stuff other wives or other couples do and I just know that won’t work with us.”

“Oh yes,” he chuckles, “my wife is the same.”

“So given that, how is it for you guys? How do you show love to her if she doesn’t like mushy stuff? And how does she show love to you? And don’t you have a hard time with her sharp tongue sometimes?”

He smiles. “Well, she can get pretty intense when she talks. But I just have to be secure and be thankful that I married a strong woman. At the end of the day, she submits to my leadership, and I’m glad she’s strong and capable.”

I nod. I am quite glad my wife is strong, but still chooses to submit to me out of faith in God. He continues.

 “And she has her own way of showing love to me. It’s not through big gestures. She’s different with me. She shows her vulnerabilities to me. With me, she can be weak. And I protect that. That’s her way of showing love to me, because I know she would never show that to anyone else. I take that as love. I don’t know if that makes sense.”

I’m surprised that I know exactly what he’s talking about – the sides of Carla that she very tentatively lets me see. I realize that they aren’t burdens to carry, or even just a cry for help. This is her reaching out. They are acts of trust, expressions of love. She’s been constant in showing her love; I just need to recognize it.

I thank him for this insight and soon he nods off as well. 45 minutes to go to KFC. One more week till I see my wife. 

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