Joe is always telling our friends what to do, and he doesn’t realize they’re rolling their eyes as soon as he starts imparting his “words of wisdom.” I just want one party where he listens and doesn’t talk – is that too much to ask?
He says: Why shouldn't I share the fruits of my research?
What can I say – I read a lot. Why shouldn’t I share the fruits of my research? I’m sure Marybeth is exaggerating – our friends love me!
What do they do?
The only thing worse than being an underappreciated genius is being married to one. Our sympathies to both of you. Let’s start with you, Marybeth.
It’s a good sign that you’re feeling Joe’s pain, even if he can’t or won’t feel it himself. Indeed, because you’re in a “one flesh” union with him, it would be problematic if you were not affected by how others perceive him. Just make sure, regardless of how irritated you might be with his behavior, that you speak with him about it only in loving and patient tones and never with snarkiness or disgust. Also, there’s no need for any of this to disturb your own tranquility. Yes, express concern for his reputation, but, at the same time, just let it go. This is his burden to bear, not yours.
Now, Joe, come on, you’ve got to be smart enough to know that everyone, including you, has at least a few social blind spots. And if a person doesn’t think he has any, it’s a virtual guarantee that he has huge ones. The fact is, we all, even the most socially adroit, occasionally need our loved ones to give us a knee under the table, and we should thank them when they do. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Prv 27:6)
This doesn’t mean these faithful wounds feel good. We understand how devastating it could be to see the truth in Marybeth’s observations. But if that’s the reality, accept it, thank her, and then allow God, through the humiliation, to chisel you into the man he made you to be. Trust that he will reward you for it in the end. Humility is indeed the beginning of wisdom, and that’s what you really want anyway, right?
It’s one of those great ironies of the Gospel: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Lk 14:11) So if you want the authentic love and respect of others, then be the guy who can see and laugh at his own absurdity. If you can’t, trust us (and your wife), others will do it for you.