Marriage is such a complex relationship. Married for 28 fabulous years to wonderful Mike, I find I am still ‘working my marriage out’. Truth be told, the moment you say, “I do”, you can no longer be independent and free to do whatever you want. Even before children come along, you have to consider what your husband is thinking or feeling, needing or wanting.
When the Bible describes us as becoming one flesh, it is not only physically. Marriage is united, on-the-same-page teamwork, where decision making should not be ‘his or mine’ but ‘ours’. Selflessness comes in and selfishness goes out. That’s often a tough pill to swallow.
There are many things I have learned about my husband as the years have gone by, but there are three things which I know, when I implement them, improve my marriage immediately!
Curious? Here they are:
- Shut up and listen
One of my biggest problems is I interrupt Mike. He will start telling me something and one or two paragraphs in, I butt in and start saying my point. When I allow him the opportunity to finish what he’s saying, he immediately allows me to have my say and ensures he doesn’t interrupt me either. If the conversation is more of a debate, it is far more likely to end lovingly than tensely. It starts with me. I have to let him finish. When I do, it is amazing what happens. I have discovered that I hold in my hand the ability to create an argument or prevent one, simply by letting him finish.
- Give him time to get used to an idea
This is a big one for me. Not long ago, my brother called and suggested we go away for a weekend, adding that he would pay. At the time, Mike was under a certain amount of work pressure. He had asked me not to schedule any trips for excursions until the stress was over. The planned weekend was many months away, so I thought it was safe to ask him how he felt about it. The outcome wasn’t good. I picked a bad moment and he was suitably unimpressed! I found myself awkwardly stuck between my beloved brother and his amazing generosity and my beloved husband and his needs. When I told Mike about the offer, he was not happy.It was at that point, that I needed to just stop and change the subject and let him get used to the idea. When I am patient and don’t push it, he eventually comes round, gets excited and inevitably the plan is pulled off and we all have a wonderful time. Most men who are in stressful jobs are doing a balancing act of note. They are trying to be a good provider, a good husband and good father. They often don’t have enough time for themselves. When we wives come up with something we want to do, they struggle to get excited immediately. They have enough on their plates.
I have found that both our needs are best met when I drop the seeds of the idea in his mind and then let them gently germinate at a pace that suits him. Once some time has passed, at a time when he is least stressed, I will raise the topic again and sound him out about it. The thing that improved my marriage was giving my husband time to get used to the idea.
- Be happy
There is nothing Mike likes more than having a happy wife. I try and be home when he gets home and when he first sees me, it is with a smile on my face and a welcoming embrace. Regardless of the day I have had, I make sure he gets the smiling me. Sometimes, it is an act. I may have had a dreadful day, but the moment he drives up is not to let on that piece of information. My job when he gets home is to be awesomely happy. It sets the tone for good start to the evening.
I believe that there are many husbands who would appreciate these tips, but I also think that there are some wives who wish their outgoing, talkative husbands would take note as well. Not all women are extroverts. Men who are, need to apply these tips for their more quiet, stressed wives.
I am sure there are many hints wives could give that have improved their relationships. These are just three that have come to mind and been worked on recently.
Marriage is seldom static. It ebbs and flows, it has periods of both joy and hardship. Sometimes it is mundane – other times exciting and exhilarating.
Through all the seasons of marriage, there is work to be done.
I like to look upon my marriage as my special project. It’s a tapestry within my life that requires time, care and protection. When both partners value and nurture it, it becomes a beautiful thing.