Just before our wedding an elderly woman who’d been married for many decades handed Becky a thin paperback: Men Read Newspapers Not Minds.
Becky read it on the first flight of our honeymoon. The humor on its pages was a couple generations out of date but the wisdom of its title stuck with both of us. I’ve passed it’s lessons on to others often over the years.
Turns out a lot of people expect love to be clairvoyant.
Recently a man told me he was considering leaving his church because, in his words, they hadn’t been there for him. Probing a little deeper I learned that during an illness multiple people from his church reached out to his family asking if there was anything they needed, offering to serve in every way possible. Those willing to help were told no help was needed.
“People say they don’t need anything but your church family should always know better.”
The effects of that little book wore off in time. I forgot that Becky’s love for me didn’t give her ESP. I went through a period of resentment because I didn’t want to be the one who always instigated sex. It made me feel unwanted. That phase ended in a fight about something else entirely and a confession that I’d been mad at her for quite a while. “I can’t read minds,” she reminded me.
Until Becky needed me home more and kept that unmet need to herself. Resentment built as I failed to notice just how hard single-parenting was on her. With tears in her eyes she told me how she felt, what she needed. I was relieved. I was only working so hard because I didn’t want her to worry about finances. If only I’d known that having me home was something she needed more.
It means a lot more when someone meets our needs without being asked to. I get that. Me too. But it’s not reasonable to expect those we love to always anticipate our every need…or to know that when we say we have no needs we’re actually lying.
Love does not make mind readers of us. Loves makes us eager and able to meet the needs we know need meeting.
Do the people who love you most know what you need most right now?