Marriage: Does it matter?
Does it matter?
Daddy O and I have been married for five years now. This year has by far been our hardest. From the stress of the low price of wheat to simple lack of sleep, it's created a challenging year for us.
At some point during the year, I realized that I was responding in such a negative way towards Daddy O, his actions or whatever was "ticking me off" at the time. It also became apparent that my frustration and stress was not only being acted upon towards him but was also changing the tone of our family.
I heard it said once that the husband might be the leader and the final decision-maker in the family, but the wife sets the "tone" of the family. This has been true in our family.
When I was able to take a step back away from my stress, away from the frustration that I felt in a number of areas of our life, I realized that I had to take action.
It's easy to put all the blame on the other person in a marriage. "If only he'd put his boots on the boot rack. Doesn't he realize the mud spreads if he doesn't and then that adds to my workload?!" But marriage is truly 100%–100%, not 50%-50%. Each party has to give their all!
I also strongly believe that I have to take responsibility for my own actions and feelings and leave my husband's actions up to God.
Now even as I write this, our marriage isn't perfect. It never will be perfect, but it definitely feels better.
I began to ask myself three questions:
1). Does it really matter? In the scheme of things does it really matter that he keeps multiple glasses on his nightstand? In the scheme of things does it really matter that I get home from work and the house is a "wreck"? Does it really matter? If the answer is "no", then I have a choice. I can either choose to ignore it or I can choose to step away from the initial feelings of frustration and in a moment of calm, address the issue with my mate.
2). What does this make possible? I use this question in many different areas of my life. But when looking at it from the standpoint of an issue within a relationship it tends to help me put the focus back on what I can learn from it or what I can do about it, instead of placing all the blame on him. "What does 'the house being a wreck when I get home from work' make possible?" Well, instead of Daddy O focusing on keeping the house tidy, it allows him to invest in quality time and playing with his girls!
3). Does he really know what is behind my frustration in this area? I don't know about you, but many times I expect my hubby to "read my mind" or "get" why I'm frustrated without me having to tell him. That just isn't feasible. Not only are we two different people but we're also two different sexes and we just don't see things the same way. The other part of this is that many times when I express my frustration in less than positive ways it is because I am tired or stressed or frustrated in a completely different area. Daddy O would come home late from farming and what ever I was frustrated with him about was the umpteenth thing that had happened that day. The proverbial "straw that broke the camels back", but he didn't know that.
Now I am an action-oriented gal. So, in order to hold up my 100% of our marriage I do several things as often as possible!
1). I find ways to tell Daddy O how much I appreciate him or something he's done. Gratitude has a big impact in changing a person's perspective. I tell him things like, "Thanks for playing with the girls, so I could quickly finish dinner." Or "Honey I know how much thought and effort you put into...I just want you to know that I appreciate that." Saying this while giving him a hug, looking into his eyes and sealing it with a kiss, yields the best results!
2). I have thought a lot about the "tone" I set in our marriage and family. I have taken action in a couple different ways to influence that tone. In my mind the "tone" of a family is influenced by the language used, the amount of gratitude expressed, and the effort placed on seeing the positive even when things aren't ideal. At the beginning of November we began a "thankfulness tree" where we each wrote down something to be thankful or grateful for. We are going to continue that throughout the next year. I am also making gratitude a priority in my personal life as well and have started journaling a list of things I'm grateful for. Another thing that I have done is taken post-it notes and placed them around the house in various places. Each of these post-it notes have positive uplifting statements on them. For example I wrote one and stuck it on the wall on Daddy O's side of the bed, which reads "My wife thinks I'm hot, but she loves my heart even more". Another reads "I am following God's purpose for my life".
3). Prayer There are so many reasons why praying for your spouse is important, but it is difficult to sincerely pray for them and maintain hard feelings towards them.
4). Communicate I know, I know. Easier said than done and everyone says it's necessary, but let me share some specific ways to communicate. I was able to diffuse a lot of my frustration by simply saying something like, I am so "exhausted" or "frustrated" or whatever it was. "Could you please help me by..." Even if it didn't really take away the exhaustion or the frustration, simply asking for his help in that moment would defuse a lot of the pent-up frustration that I had. In the case of the house being a "wreck" when I got home from work, I began to figure out why it bothered me. Some days it was because I felt overwhelmed with the lack of time I had had that week to clean the house myself. I saw the "wreck" as just an addition to what I was already dealing with. So, I began to ask him to help the girls pick up toys before I got home or I'd ask him to do one chore that I knew would alleviate some of my stress. Daddy O, now knowing what my expectations were or what was important to help alleviate my stress, would kindly oblige. I hope that some of these strategies will benefit you and your marriage.
Have you found any sure fire strategies to improve your marriage? I'd love to hear about them! Please feel free to post in the comments below!