Being a wife can be one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, gratifying experiences in life. It can also be one of the most emotionally draining, challenging and downright painful experiences. As girls growing up it's common to dream of our wedding day... the ceremony, the flowers, the dress, maybe even what the groom might look like... but it's rare that we dream of what comes after all of the fun parties and romantic, rose-colored promises we make in our vows. It's rare to comprehend what those vows will actually MEAN. How much weight they will carry... how they could end up feeling more like a cage than a gift. After two failed marriages and a marriage that is continually beating the odds, I can definitely say I UNDERSTAND! I get how frustrated, exhausted, angry and hopeless you might feel. Do you feel like you are the only one? The only one who takes the dog out, makes the meals, gets the kids dressed and undressed, does the dishes and the laundry, makes the dinner reservations, remembers the important dates and what makes him feel special... feel like you are completely alone in the relationship? You ARE NOT the only one who feels like this! Many of the women around you feel this way at some point in their marriage (even the ones who seem like they have it all figured out and have a completely perfect life)... No one is perfect. No marriage is without challenges. No wife is free from hurt and heartache. So whether your complaints are few and far between or your marriage is in complete shambles… here are a few baby steps that might make all the difference...
1. I'm sorry.
I know... you have probably said these words a million times... and frankly, what do you have to apologize for?? He's the fumbling, insensitive, forgetful jerk that should be apologizing!! .... I have to stop you here. This was my mindset for so long and I didn't even realize it. I need you to put all of that down for a moment and remember that this is the man who loves you, the man who couldn't live another day without you, the man who sacrificed his life of beer and football with the boys to share wine and dinner with you! His intentions are not to hurt you... even if it seems that way sometimes. Being the one to say I'm sorry first is never fun... but it does open the door to a conversation... it softens his heart and allows him to share with you how he feels... it deters him from the instinct to defend himself. Trust me... it's worth the 30-second mouthful of words that taste like vinegar to get the healing connection that will follow.
2. Just ask.
Growing up I watched my mother get so frustrated with my dad over the tasks that she wished he would do. Putting his dirty plate in the dishwasher instead of the sink, throwing his used tissues in the trash instead of littering the floor on his side of the bed, and the list goes on. I watched her feel used and taken advantage of when he didn't participate in family gatherings or accompany us to church on Sundays. These are just a few examples of the things she wanted him to know... things she felt like he SHOULD know. As a grown married woman I now understand the feelings behind what I thought at the time was unfair treatment of my dad. My mom felt unloved, like my dad just wasn't taking the time to get to know her. She felt like he must not love her if he couldn't see how much it hurt her for him to not do these things for her... and if she were to ask him to do them... well that would just completely take the meaning and joy out of seeing him do them. I understand all of this now because I have found myself feeling the same way! The problem here is ladies, our husbands really don't know. They aren't mind readers, they aren't overly observant. They don't see the mess on the floor or think about the dirty plate in the sink. Their brains just don't work that way! Thank God! Why would you want to marry someone exactly like you? That one-task-at-a-time brain is the reason your man can be so diligent, hard working, and successful. Think about how much you could get done at work if you weren’t worrying about the kids, the bills, the house or what to make for dinner all at the same time?!
ASK him… it’s so simple… and I guarantee that when he does it… you will still enjoy it.
3. Put it in writing.
Expectations are a given in any relationship. Everyone has them… professional and personal. You may not even realize how many expectations you have of that Mr. of yours… or how many he may have of you. Take some time on a Sunday afternoon to jot them down and compare notes. You may find that once you are made aware of one another’s needs and desires it becomes much easier to make an effort to meet them. For my husband and I this made an enormous difference in our day-to-day efficiency, resulting in a far less stressed wife and hubby. You could take this a step farther… break down expectations for the relationship (who plans date night, where to hang the wet towels, what does love look like to you etc) and daily expectations for the week (who picks up the kids when, who is responsible for dinner on what night etc). Post the lists somewhere you can see them often or take a photo with your smart phone and favorite it so you can visit it when you are on the go.
4. Love little.
No don’t love him a little… do something little to show him you love him. I made it a goal to do this every day and although I fail sometimes to follow through on it, doing it a few days in a row really shows. He’s nicer, more helpful, more willing to act out of love too. There are millions of examples on Pinterest if you aren’t a creative lady or if you get stuck and run out of ideas… it doesn’t have to cost a lot or take a lot of time… just a moment or two to SHOW him you love him. After all… love is an action! (Psst... click on the link for ideas... and join our group pin board!!)
My God is a BIG God! If you aren’t a follower or a fan of Jesus… maybe a little meditation or journaling (for me it’s praying) about the ways your man has brought happiness to your life. The dreams you have for him. The protection and guidance you wish for him. All of the traits you adore about him. Holding all of that positive energy in your mind leaves little room for negative energy. It will do wonderful things for both of you… bringing blessings and good vibes to him… softening and turning your heart towards him… growing the love and joy you have inside of you… replacing the darkness with a radiant light. You will find it easier to be steadfast in this lifelong, til death do us part, hands on learning experience we call marriage.
I realize this article was all about us wives. It’s not to say that he holds no responsibility for the current state of your marriage, or that he doesn’t have work of his own to do… but it does address another important lesson… you can only be responsible for yourself and your actions (or reactions). No matter how hard he tries or doesn’t try. No matter how unfair it may seem… I promise your efforts will not be in vain. Even if this journey ends with divorce (I sincerely hope and pray that it doesn’t) you will be able to stand and say you did EVERYTHING you could. However… If this could make even the slightest difference (or completely flip the script on your marriage)… don’t you want to try? My heart is with you… I’m pulling for you… I believe in you! You are one of the strongest creatures God has created. You are resilient. You are forgiving. You are kind. You are nurturing. You are beautiful. You are loved. You CAN do this!