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Wife Places Relationship over Material Value

Last weekend was spent doing one of those uber-stressful things: buying a car. We are a one-car family and tend to drive our cars until they die. Our trusty Sebring could no longer be trusted, so it was time to replace it. For us, a major purchase like this is almost traumatic. We are very careful and have a purchasing style that might drive others insane. …

We've been married 20 years and have never bought a new car. It was sort of a policy of ours with the whole depreciation thing in the first year. But as we shopped we found that the models that we chose were not depreciating in value to make it worth our while. So, following a certain train of logic (reliability + features + cost) this family ended up with a bright, shiny, spanking-new, kiwi-green Honda Element. Our first new car.

Now, one of the reasons we always bought used is a concept called "the kiss factor." … When my husband was younger, he had an uncle who told him that if he ever got a new car, the first thing he needed to do was take a hammer and give it a whack, hence giving it its first dent. In other words, "kiss" it.

His logic was that if it was already "kissed" then all that fuss and stress over having something new and trying to keep it new would evaporate into practical everyday life. Practical. Sensible. Would I do it to our bright shiny spanking new, kiwi-green, Honda Element? Not on your life.

However, the downside that remained without "kissing" our bright, shiny, spanking-new, kiwi-green, Honda Element is that I, in fact, did feel a certain weird, low-grade anxiety about keeping it new—and that is not our family's style. When we get something—blender, luggage, whatever—we use the snot out of it. But this was a new car. …

But there was one factor I had not considered: my sweet husband.

I had driven it home from the dealership Saturday night, and then my husband carefully parked it across the lawn… . Sunday morning we needed to take the Sebring to that great car lot in the sky (Carmax). The plan was he would move the Element for me and then I would drive it following him (for his last drive in the Sebring). I realized that I forgot my keys. I ran back in the house, grabbed my keys, and ran back outside—just in time to see our bright, shiny, spanking-new, kiwi-green Honda Element with its bumper squared off against a tree. …

Knowing full well that he had just backed into the tree, I heard myself saying, "You didn't; you didn't," while feeling something rise up in me.

Now, this is one of those pivotal moments that tell you a lot about yourself. Looming on my emotional horizon was a dark cloud of disappointment, blame, and something even uglier. The temptation to place something of material value over a relationship.

Recognizing the moment, I snapped out of my "you didn't" chant, and looking at my husband's expression of utter disbelief, I started to laugh.

Examining the damage, we looked at each other and both began to laugh. "I guess it's been kissed," we said. Now I can relax.

Condensed from Gifted for Leadership, a Christianity Today International blog, © 2007 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Today's-Christian.com.

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