Let me begin by saying emphatically that I HATE GARLIC! I just do. I can’t stand the smell of the bulb, and definitely can’t stand the smell of the bulb when it’s exuding from the mouth or pores of people I’m around.

I half-jokingly tell people that garlic was named “girlisha” or something like that before the fall of mankindĀ and had a sweet-smelling savor. After sin entered into the world, however, garlisha became known simply as garlic, and started to stink like the dickens.

Man … I hate garlic. While I will agree that it has powerful medicinal qualities, I don’t like it.

Now that I have established my position with garlic, let me tell you that my wife, Cetelia, LOVES garlic. She can’t get enough of it. She rubs it on the kids’ feet when they aren’t feeling well. She cooks with it. She drinks it. She dices it up and takes it for colds. She slices it and puts it in her socks when she’s not feeling well. I’m willing to bet that if someone came out with a line of garlic perfume, she would buy it and wear it proudly. She’s just that into garlic.

Can you guess what one of the biggest contentions is in the Bullard home?

Yeah, garlic, and how we both approach the gloriously stinky vegetable.

For 15 years, Cetelia and I have gone back and forth about the role garlic should play in our marriage. While I understand that she loves it, and I want to be sensitive to that, I also know how it completely puts me in a standoffish frame of mind because of the smell.

Likewise, Cetelia is sensitive to meĀ and knows that I can’t stand the smell. Believe it or not, for about a period of a year, she completely disavowed garlic and said that she would avoid it just to please me. Too bad that year came to a close.

So, we’re back where we started.

Now, before you think that this is a simple issue and I’m being childish, let me tell you something very important: You, too, have a garlic issue in your marriage.

What is a garlic issue, exactly? It’s when one spouse cares for something that is not sinful, yet is bothersome to the other spouse.

Maybe your garlic issue is TV or internet consumption or shopping or eating out or hanging with friends or visiting family or working or spending money or saving money or anything else you can think of that causes spouses to disagree.

Whatever it is, if it is not talked about honestly, openly, and maturely, it can reek havoc on the marriage. It can cause one or both spouses to feel alienated & disrespected, and can destroy the intimacy in a relationship.

I know this is true because I have felt myself going down this path before.

As I offer you some thoughts about how to make peace with the garlic in your marriage, know that I’m giving the exact same advice to myself.

3 Ways to Make Peace With Garlic

  1. Rights before feelings.
    Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said you should put the rights of others before your feelings, and the feelings of others before your rights. From my vantage, that means I put Cetelia’s right to eat garlic above my feelings. Note: I don’t have to change my feelings, I just need to subjugate them to her rights. The same is true in your marriage. Whatever the garlic is, know that your wife has the right to ___ (fill in the blank). As long as she is not sinning against God, her conscience, nor you – let her be. You don’t have to like it, and you can address it and try to find a compromise. But, when it’s all said and done, you need to respect her right to do what she’s done. After all, if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t you want her to put your rights ahead of her feelings on the matter?
  2. Prefer your wife.
    Philippians 2:3-4 gives a very firm command, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” In other words, it’s not all about you. This scripture encourages us go beyond our own ambitions, values, and interests so we can partake in our wife’s ambition, values, and interests. I know that this is not the easiest thing in the world to carry out, but it is possible — and it’s a command. Perhaps the Lord put the garlic issue in your marriage just to get you to grow out of selfishness. Maybe the garlic issue is there just to teach you how to find value in what your wife likes and thinks is important. The only way you’ll discover this is if you begin preferring your wife over yourself. Note: You don’t have to prefer the garlic – just your wife.
  3. Love & honor your wife.
    The final way I’d like to recommend you make peace with the garlic in your marriage is to be devoted to your wife in love, and honor her (Romans 12:10). This means that even if your wife continues with her garlic ways the duration of your marriage, you’re called to be devoted in love and honor her. The call you have as a husband supersedes the garlic issue. Sure, it may be taxing to you or be a source of frustration, but you must realize that love is deeper than annoyances. Love is deeper than irritations. Love is deeper than garlic. Just as you have garlic issues that God chooses to overlook so he can love you faithfully, so too, must you love your wife that way.

Take these three suggestions to make peace with garlic in your marriage. You’ll be a better husband and person. And who knows, before it’s over, you just might start liking garlic!

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