“I don’t know what caused me to call you,” my friend said, “But I just thought: I need to talk to Sue.”
She was calling for marriage advice. I really couldn’t believe my ears. John and I have a pretty good marriage, but we’re not perfect. To give marriage advice kind of scares me because it’s such an individual thing. I tried to garner marriage advice from our friends before we got married and many didn’t have much to offer. It was a hit or miss kind of thing. Most men gave half-hearted answers like “Just always tell her she’s right” or “I say ‘Yes, Dear’ a lot.” And most women said “Just prepare to be disappointed.” It was not too enlightening or encouraging.
And yet we still went through with it.
Marriage is not a one day event – that’s the wedding. Marriage is a life long commitment and people grow and change during that life time. If you want to keep a strong marriage going it’s work for both parties. As people evolve – so must the marriage.
Think about your typical day. When I wake up in the morning I feel like I can do anything. It’s a fresh start, I have rest on my side as well as a whole day ahead of me. Today is the day! Then I get out of bed.
Usually by the time I’ve had breakfast and try to manage my hair into place some of my optimism has abated. When I have to start dealing with other people – it dips even more severely. I get frustrated easily and by the end of the day, after dealing with a multitude of different personalities and opinions, I have just about had it. I’m ready to head back to the safety of my bed. I think most of us are like this – especially on bad days. Now some days are better than others. Perhaps someone held a door for me today or paid me a compliment… so it’s better. I might come home and cook dinner, feeling good about myself and my life. Or I might come home and slump on the couch, turn the TV up to full volume and block out the world. Including my spouse.
But now add in to the end of that day – communication with our spouses. It’s still time to be loving, caring and supportive… even when we don’t feel like it anymore.
One thing I have found is this: my spouse is the one person who I truly feel myself around. This is great for me because I don’t have to put up any guards, I don’t have to pretend to like him, and I don’t have to smile or act like I’m having a great time. I can be me. For him: it’s not so great. He comes home – much in the same frame of mind – and then we both end up treating each other pretty crappy because we’ve acted nice all day to others. We don’t want to do it anymore.
I’ve said some nasty things to my spouse during these times. Things he hasn’t deserved and certainly didn’t ask for. I let my guard down and my venom spew. He gets the brunt of everything I wanted to say to everyone else all day long. It sucks for him. (and vice versa sometimes…)
Except we still need to try with our spouses. It’s not about being fake, but it’s about the bond we have together and having respect and love for one another. This person that you chose to be with you for the next 50 years or so also had a bad day. Also is a little frustrated. And also can’t quite play nice right now. But you love one another! So it’s worth the effort.
The number one thing I think every married couple needs to remember is this: the other person is human too. They have faults, issues (some more than an entire magazine subscription) and bad days.
Sometimes they forget to put something away and it irritates us because we have to do it. Suggestion: Ask them nicely to put it away – or better yet – ask them where it goes and you’ll put it away for them. Or just put it away if you know where it goes and it’s bothering you. It’s not bothering them. It’s YOUR issue.
Sometimes they don’t clean up their mess – or make a larger one right after you cleaned up. Suggestion: Clean it up yourself. Don’t make a big fight about it. You can certainly ask them to be more considerate in the future, but maybe they just didn’t notice you had just cleaned. (Men especially can be a little dense on this subject.)
Sometimes they don’t hear us because they have a lot going on in their own head. Suggestion: Try to get into their head. Ask them about their day. Give them a safe space to communicate with you. (This is especially true for women who have a variety of things going on in their heads at once.)
Sometimes they just say the wrong things. Suggestion: Forgive
My top five things to do in marriage (and I mean BOTH SPOUSES need to do this ALL THE TIME):
1) Forgive – don’t hold on to things
2) Communicate – be open and honest
3) Forgive – let the past go
4) Communicate – give your spouse a safe place to talk to you
5) Forgive – Let. It. Go.
It’s worked for us thus far. I hope maybe it’ll work for you.
What marriage advice can you share with our readers? What has worked best in your marriage?