(This blog post was originally written by Michelle Edsall in May 2018.)
For the longest time I did not relate that my preferences were just that, preferences. I interpreted my preferences to be “the right way” to do whatever task was at hand. I also, for the longest time could not figure out why there was more conflict than I wanted in my relationships. In my mind of fantasy I was as helpful as a person could be and that if the other would just listen to me then all would be well. It did not really occur to me that the other (my husband, or friends) may have preferences of their own.
My heart is grieved that I spent so many years demanding my preference be met. I had what seemed like valid reasons that my preferences were “right”. My preference was smarter, more efficient, more loving, economical, strategic, or just fill in the blank. I lived in a fantasy that the impact on others was minimal because after all I was “being helpful”. Closer to the truth is that others were not free to be themselves, the gift of who they are was not acceptable, and my emotional comfort ranked above anything else.
I am beyond grateful and humbled to know and practice preferences in a different way. For me, having a preference is just that, a preference. I make a point to honor the preferences of others. I don’t honor their preference because I like it. I honor it because it is one of the ways I can show love for the other. Often this honoring is reciprocated. For instance, when grocery shopping I have a strong preference on how the cart is loaded and an even bigger preference for how it is unloaded. I love that my family honors this. My husband loves to have a companion to run errands no matter how big or small the errand is. I on the other hand prefer to run errands alone to get in and out. As often as I can I honor his preference for a companion. The connection and love that my husband feels when I honor his preference , is all that matters in the end.