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A Bridge Over a Troubled Mattress

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - In 21 years of marriage I have learned it is important for my wife to be happy.  In his comedy act, Jeff Allen expresses this concept most eloquently when he says, “Happy wife, happy life.”

I try my hardest to make her happy.  I honestly do.  But I must admit that sometimes I believe we are operating from different area codes, opposite ends of the building, or in an area of the brain that is undiscovered terrain for me.

People are quick to say that I am a man and she is woman – we are just wired differently.  If this is true, then I am convinced that my electrical system is short circuiting because she is touching her green wire to my red wire.

These observations are nothing new but they were brought squarely into focus a few weeks ago.  In fact, I learned a valuable lesson, one that is critically important but often overlooked.

It all started on an ordinary Tuesday night.  As is my custom, I had burrowed myself into the couch in our family room with a good book.  Our son had just drifted off to sleep and my wife was in our upstairs study working on the computer.  Everything was right in my world, normal, calm.  This was to be short lived.

In a cautious, questioning voice, full of uncertainty, I heard my wife’s voice behind me. 


Men, I am sure you can relate.  When you hear the “questioning voice” you know there is trouble.  Your child has drawn on the wall with charcoal briquettes he found in the garage, there is a creepy spider crawling across the wall, or you have spent too much money this week.

But this was different.  She was calling to me for a reason I had never encountered before.  I hope I never have to again.  Sure, I have heard success stories from people who have overcome such a battle but I’m not sure I was equipped to handle such devastation.

Taking me by the hand, my wife led me to the place.  I looked on, my mouth agape with utter disbelief.  Our water bed had sprung a leak.

“Just don’t stand there, grab some towels!” my wife shouted, quickly changing gears from meek to assertive.

My world had just changed.  Everything that was right about it was now wrong.  My evening of calm had been replaced by this tempest in a water tube.  My life had just changed forever … or at least for the next hour or two.

This is where I committed an egregious mistake, a tactical error that could change the course of where I would sleep that night.  Would it be the couch, the garage, or in the backyard doghouse we didn’t have?

“Can we do this tomorrow night?  I really wanted to finish my book.”

Looking back on it now, I realize I was highly insensitive and selfish.  I would take it back if I could.  I would change the error of my ways but what was done was done.  I had said what I said and now I had to face the wrath of my incorrigible wife.

“Your precious book can wait.  Start mopping!” she commanded.  My wife was now calling the shots.  She was the queen and I certainly wasn’t acting like the king.  I was but a lowly pawn in her watery game of chess.    

“Can’t we just put some duct tape over it? I countered callously.  “Remember that time we taped the lid down on the beach cooler?  That held it together really well.”

“No,” she replied sharply.

That was it.  I had just crossed a bridge over a troubled mattress.  I had made myself look selfish and uncaring to the very person I had promised to spend a lifetime with journeying through the good times and bad.  She asked for my help and I handed her a hardened heart.

Here is the valuable lesson I learned.  I need to serve her better.  Furthermore, I should serve others better too.  I need a servant’s heart.

In Mark 10:43-45, Jesus told his disciples, “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave to all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Developing a servant’s heart requires sacrifice, endurance, and longsuffering.  It is critical that others learn to trust us and to see God’s love through us.  Jesus was very clear in the aforementioned passage of scripture.  He promises true greatness by being a servant to others.

The desire to be self-centered in all you do usually hinders more than it helps.  Rather than seeking to have your needs met, look for ways to naturally fulfill the needs of others, without forgetting those in your own family.  Right relationships are built on love, respect, and commitment to others.

I admit, it is painful to admit our wrongness, our stubbornness, where we justify our actions to protect our position.  Quite simply, we do this to avoid being hurt.  A simple ‘I’m sorry’ goes a long way in resolving the pain we cause others. 

As for my tale of waterbed woe, my wife convinced me the next day that it was time for a new mattress.  Rather than be selfish I chose to serve.  We have been resting comfortably ever since.

Tell me what you think

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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