Michelangelo is quoted as saying, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” I love that quote. Researchers describe a Michelangelo effect between spouses when one spouse brings out the best, the angel, in the other. My wife is my Michelangelo. Other people look at me and see a slab of rock; but she sees something more. She looks into that slab of rock and sees a statue waiting to take shape, dreams and aspirations waiting to emerge, an ideal self waiting to be set free. At times, I think she believes I am more like that ideal person than I really am. She compliments me like I’ve already achieved more of my ideal than I really have. Not only does she see and believe in my ideals and dreams, she actively helps me reach for them. She supports me and even assists me in reaching my goals. All the while, she talks about how much she enjoys doing things with me.
Don’t get me wrong. She still recognizes my limits and shortcomings. In many ways, she compensates for them. When I feel frustrated with so much bureaucracy, she handles it. When I become overwhelmed with all that needs done, she takes some of the burden. Sometimes I become obsessed with worry and she “talks sense to me.” Other times I prepare to jump head first into the mix and she brings needed caution and forethought. All the while, she encourages and compliments.
Yes, my wife is my Michelangelo. She has taken a slab of stone and helped find the statue inside. She did not decide what statue she thought I should become. Instead, she realized the ideal self I wanted to become and encouraged that ideal. She recognized my dreams, accepted those dreams, and supported me in reaching for those dreams. In the process, she lovingly chisels away at the fears and inhibitions that interfere with my dreams. She helps add shape and substance to my dreams and makes me a better person for it. I only hope I can do the same for her.
So, to my wife I say: “Thank you for being the Michelangelo to my slab of marble. Thank you for honoring me enough to envision the ‘angel in the marble’ and patiently, lovingly helping to ‘set him free.'”