On Solving Problems, and When It’s Okay Not To

I work tech support and have done so for about 7 years, and so all my life is about solving problems, fixing things that aren’t working, and helping people do things that they are not able to do themselves.   I enjoy it, I really do.   I like having a problem presented to me, and then working out how to resolve it.   That is what I have spent my whole day doing for these past several years, and so solving problems has become an integral part of my life and the way that I view the world.   I often approach situations in the same way that I approach my work — as an issue to be resolved, a problem to be troubleshot, an incident requiring a solution.

That is great, it has certainly helped me in a lot of ways.   I am able to take in a whole situation and begin applying troubleshooting techniques to break it down into more manageable projects and issues which are more easily solved.   It does make some aspects of life easier – to approach them as problems to be solved, and as situations to be taken one step at a time.  It is a logical way of looking at the world and I enjoy it.

But, I have had some problems of my own that are not so easily solved.   And there are some problems that do not have easy solutions, or are not meant to be solved.   I found myself thinking about this recently after a discussion with my wife.

There have been some major changes in our lives recently, as we moved across the country and are still looking for a job in our new home in Seattle and are trying to adjust to a new living situation and our son growing up and becoming more independent and defiant.   Though we have been married six years this weekend, I am still learning many things about my wife and we are still working on drawing closer to each other.   My wife is one of those people who needs to talk through her problems and issues.   She likes to talk and explain things as her way of working through them, and I do my best to sit and listen to her, being attentive to her needs.

The problem arises when I immediately launch into troubleshooting mode and want to solve all of her problems.   For me, that is what life is about, that is what I do.  People come to me complaining or bringing up problems that they have all day and they expect me to solve their problems and be quick about it.   That’s what I do as technical support.   But, my wife is not a technical issue.   Our family is not a technical issue.   I want to solve all problems quickly and then move on to the next one, because that is what I have trained for and studied and learned, but I am learning that my wife often just wants someone to listen to her.   She does not want or need me to answer all of her questions and resolve everything right away.

I do enjoy solving problems and it has provided me a great job and career and great experiences in life, but I am learning now that not all problems need to be immediately solved.   It is okay to sit and discuss and talk about issues without having to jump to solving them right now.

Patience truly is a virtue, and sometimes we need to patiently sit and wait and we will see that things we thought were huge problems and unsolvable, simply work themselves out and are no big deal. I got more upset than I honestly should have when I thought my wife was bringing me yet another problem that I had to fix.  She was explaining an issue that arose in our family and wanted my sympathy and a jobs listening ear. Instead I saw it as just another incident brought to my attention that I was expected to resolve. And so I began along questions about how we were going to handle the situation and I was harsher than I should have been. My wife just needed me to be her husband, and her companion listening to her and loving her. I started to see my wife as another customer whom I needed to support, but she is eternally more than that.

Problems will arise, things will need to be fixed abs dealt with. Life will go on. I am glad that I have my wife beside me to help me, to constantly assist me and push me to be more than I am or think I can be. I truly do not know why she has started with me for six years, but I am grateful to her and I love her more than I tell her. Life is meant to be lived, not solved. Marriage is meant to be enjoyed, not fixed. We work together and we love together and we have a hope for an eternity spent together in the world to come based on the promises of God and his priesthood.

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