When Love Smells Rotten
By Heather Riggleman
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:7.
One of the special ways Chris expresses his love for me and our kids is served up in the kitchen. It’s through the art of nourishment and food, which is a good thing, since I don’t know my way around the kitchen. I can barely make grilled cheese without setting it on fire. His embrace usually smells of fresh basil and minced garlic rubbed into cod or a braised chicken with hints of smoke right off the grill, or thick, piping hot fudge brownies.
On this particular day, Chris was re-creating a recipe he was served from one of his various travels as a globe-trotter for work. He began cooking chicken and shrimp that had been marinating for the last 36 hours. At first, I thought perhaps it was the garbage that needed to be taken out. Then I thought maybe it was the garbage disposal that needed to be cleaned, but I quickly realized as the chicken and shrimp fizzled in the pan—it was what he was cooking. As the death smell began filling the house, I questioned his abilities.
“I think the chicken is bad,” I commented as I held my nose.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said as he continued cooking.
“No really, I think it’s bad. Why are you still cooking it? I think you should throw it out,” I say.
“Heather, leave it alone. Can you just trust me on this?” He keeps working, not making eye contact. The conversation goes like this for a good ten minutes as my eyes begin to water and Chris’ emotions begin to flare.
“Fine,” I say. “Have it your way. But I will not be eating it. The kids will not be eating it either and don’t complain to me when I have to take you to the Emergency Room for food poisoning.” The smell is getting so bad that the kids are curious why the whole house is filled with a rotten smell. They wandered into the kitchen and made the same comments.
Then Chris did something he’s never done. Exasperated, he banished us from his presence. And the whole house was not only filled with the rotten egg smell and loud sizzling noises from the kitchen, it was filled eggshells that we were required to tiptoe on because I had upset my husband with my distrust of his sense and abilities.
When supper was ready, Chris called us to the table and we reluctantly dragged our feet as we stated we would not be eating his rotten food. By then the smell faded and what sat before us was a feast of Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup). Lemongrass and garlic invaded our noses and made our bellies growl. Tentatively we sipped the soup when delicious flavors danced on our tongues.
As I looked over at my husband, I could see that our affirmations of devouring his offerings hadn’t released the tension coming from him. When I asked him what was wrong, he responded, “Why couldn’t you just believe in me? Why couldn’t you just trust me?”
How often do you mistrust your spouse’s abilities despite, his or her outstanding expertise and track record? Maybe you have the same mantra with eggshell tip toe moments with your spouse because you believe no one is trustworthy except God.
While the sentiment is certainly true that God is trustworthy, so is your spouse. We’re reminded in Corinthians 13:7, love believes the best. It trusts effortlessly. In other words, love isn’t when everything goes according to your experience, perceptions and plans. Love believes in the abilities of your spouse, unconditionally. Love also happens to include spoken words and love certainly includes trust—even when something smells foul.
One of the Old Testament words for trust, batach, has a meaning of "careless." When you trust in your spouse you are careless—free of concern with him. You don’t have to worry about anything. Ask yourself, “Am I free of concern with my spouse? Or do I mistrust his abilities? Do I run her down or believe the best about her? Ask your spouse to answer these questions too, and discuss what it means to believe in each other.
I never want my lack of trust to tear Chris down and I never want Chris to need to protect himself from me. Let’s do the delicate and courageous work of believing and trusting in our spouse in all things.
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone) with her three kids and husband of 20 years. She writes to bring bold truths to marriage, career, mental health, depression, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at heatherriggleman.com.
Originally published Friday, 30 September 2022.