God sometimes uses people we wouldn’t expect Him to use, and catches our attention in unusual ways.
That’s the way it was when I interviewed Dr. Joyce Brothers. Brothers, who died May 13 at age 85, was keynote speaker at a women’s conference in our city a long time ago and I spoke to her on the phone prior to the event.
What caught my attention was what the psychologist said during the interview about treating your spouse with respect and being thankful.
“Marriage partners take one another for granted and expect them to do whatever needs to be done,” Brothers said. “Many couples fight about helping with chores, and if their mate empties the trash or cleans out the dishwasher, they barely notice. Instead, even when it’s a job we expect him or her to do, we should say, “Thank you for doing that. Nice job. That really helps.”
Brothers said when marriage partners respectfully show how much they appreciate one another, they’ll get more help and there will be less friction in the home. Saying “thanks” gets much better results than nagging, she added.
Coming from a family of workaholics, her words jabbed me right in the conscience. I expected my husband to jump on a job like my siblings would do, and if he didn’t, I’d get into a snit and do it myself—or give him an ear full.
I knew that’s not the way a Christian should act, but Satan deceives us into thinking if we’re doing our part it’s OK to attack the person we don’t think is doing his.
I tried Brothers’ “Thank you,” approach and discovered it made the home atmosphere better and it made me actually feel thankful. It wasn’t long before my husband also was saying “Thank you.”
I don’t remember watching Brothers on television or reading more than one or two of her advice columns, but that one personal interview is enough for me to have respect for her, despite what I’ve read about some of her other advice.
What she did for me was show me a concrete way I could develop fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life—by showing patience, gentleness, goodness and self control. Acts of kindness are something we decide to do, and so are attitudes of the heart. Becoming thankful definitely gave me a spiritual growth spurt.
You can find a number of quotes from Brothers on the internet such as:
“Anger repressed can poison a relationship as surely as the cruelest words.”
“Those who have easy, cheerful attitudes tend to be happier than those with less pleasant temperaments, regardless of money, ‘making it’, or success.”
“Being taken for granted can be a compliment. It means that you’ve become a comfortable, trusted element in another person’s life.”
Good advice, and may these words long outlive her.