Marriage Advice | Some of my biggest lessons
I've wanted to share this blog post for a couple of years now. I've said it before, but it's funny all the things you start saying to yourself as to why you shouldn't do something good... Some of the things that kept coming to mind were: Who am I to share advice? What if I give bad advice? What if people think I'm trying to be a know-it-all? What if people take it the wrong way? The list goes on! 🙈 Well, I'm here to say, I'm just a normal girl (define normal, I guess, haha), but I'm not someone "special" or an "expert," and I don't wanna pretend to be. I intend to share lessons I've learned mostly the hard way and things that have significantly helped my marriage in hopes that they can help you or even someone you know. I DON'T know it all, but I've learned a lot because I've messed up a lot, and I'm STILL learning and messing up. The majority of these are things I still struggle with from time to time. I have not mastered any of them, but I'm better than I was, and our marriage is better than it's ever been! :) And that's the ultimate goal, right?!! :)
•You have to let things go
I constantly have to remind myself of this, and even my hubby will say things that remind me that I need to chill. lol! This is harder to control when I'm PMSing, for sure! haha. There are several verses in the bible that talk about this very topic! ( Proverbs 14:1; Prov 19:13; Prov 21:9; Prov 21:19 ) I've thought about Proverbs 14:1 a lot recently, "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears hers down." YIKES! I don't want to be foolish, and I definitely don't want to tear my house down. I don't think it's meant literally in this verse, though, like she's ripping the doors down and bashing in the windows (I mean, I did break one of my husband's favorite vases once out of anger our first year of marriage). Oops. haha (I literally said that as I slid it off the counter) 🙈. I think that verse is about the power we have as women when it comes to setting the tone and pace of our homes. We can build our home up with our actions and our attitude, or we can be a part of tearing it down. Wow!! That's scary but encouraging to me at the same time.
My hubby has learned when I'm being short, griping, or nit-picking to ask if I'm "about to start." It's his way of helping me recognize where it's coming from and for him to understand and have more patience with me. Otherwise, if he thinks it's coming out of nowhere, it sounds like I'm just being a jerk and trying to start a fight. This extra communication has kept us from many arguments that we used to have. It also helps me take a step back and have more control of my attitude and words.
Something else that has stuck with me is assuming that my hubby passes away before me (sorry to get grim). I think about how there might be a day when I will miss some of the things he does that get on my nerves. There won't be a sock on the floor 1 foot away from the dirty clothes bin to pick up. There won't be a frying pan stored with the lids. I try to keep this in mind and focus on being grateful that I have a hubby to clean up after! haha. I'm not saying to always think about your husband dying, but more shifting your focus to being grateful rather than having a mindset that sees faults. Girl, it's not always easy, and I often forget and start complaining, but my mind will come back to this thought and help me count my blessings.
and to tag off this first one, here is why! ⤵
•Men often take the path of least resistance
...when it comes to your relationship. Another big reason to let things go is if you continually complain about him not doing the dishes right, he will stop helping with the dishes. Men are just that simple. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way and in many different areas. If every time your husband tells you about work and you appear not to be listening, criticize him, question him (in a negative way), etc., he will just stop telling you about how his day went. Later down the line, when our husbands don't help anymore or don't tell us about their day, then we start complaining EVEN MORE!!! haha!! All we can see is that we are upset that he never helps or he doesn't talk anymore, all while being blind to the fault we play in the matter. It truly puts a wedge in between the two of you and can cause more problems. Your actions and reactions train your husband on how to deal with you, and trust me- the last thing you want to "train" your husband in is not helping you and not feeling like he can talk to you because it causes even bigger problems.
My husband eventually explained how my constant nit-picking was affecting him, which was eye-opening for me. He said this to me right after I complained about something petty while he was helping with the dishes, " Babe, when you talk to me like that, it makes me not want to help you. It really makes you sound ungrateful." I couldn't even be mad at that. I was like, "SHOOT... he's right." I never want to come off as ungrateful, and it was a good reminder for me to hear that because it's like my mind is just trained to find what's wrong sometimes!! I think we don't even realize when we are being that way most of the time. When I stop and think about it rationally, I'm like, I would never be that way if a friend were helping me! Why do I do it to my hubby?! What has helped me is to work on being more aware and catching myself before I say something.
On the flip side, I definitely think this can be a two-way street. Obviously, it's okay to express when you want things done a certain way, but I think it's wise to pick your battles. :)
•As a Christian, your husband is also your brother in Christ
I realized this during one of the most challenging times in our marriage. In truth, I kept looking at him as this person who wasn't allowed to mess up and this big jerk who kept doing things that hurt me. I stopped laughing at his jokes, I was mad a lot, I cried often, and we fought ALL THE TIME. It was a terrible time, and yes, my hubby played his role, but that's a topic for another time. I realized that we were in this "evil cycle," as I call it, and one of us had to break it. I took a step back and thought about the bigger picture. He would do something that hurt me (driving the wedge), I felt like I needed to close off and "punish" him (driving the wedge deeper), we would fight and drift farther apart. This cycle went on and on. At our darkest time, we started an online bible study/counseling program with a Christian couple. I emailed back and forth with the wife daily, and he emailed the husband. She was the one who helped me see that I needed to think of our problems as things we needed to work on together. I needed to be on his team, not against him. That was hard to swallow at first. Honestly, my thought was, "Why would I want to help him! He's hurt me so bad that I don't want good things for him." I hate to admit that, but it's true. It took a lot of prayers and a lot of talking it through with that lady for me to get to a good place mentally and change my attitude.
I was holding him to this unrealistic standard of perfection. On top of that, I hardly ever encouraged him. I was pretty much always saying something catty and discouraging. I realized that by basically expecting perfection from him, I'm wasn't in the battle with him. I was there on the sidelines throwing shade, and that was not helpful!! I started realizing that I was always the positive and encouraging one to my friends but not my husband. Granted, he was doing some pretty crappy stuff that played a HUGE part. BUT as Christians, we are still supposed to treat others how we want to be treated (Matt 7:12). And at that point in our marriage, I had realized that trying to get even or be mean and hateful had NEVER worked out for the better. You are supposed to treat people differently when you view them as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It took a long time (YEARS), but we worked on it day by day. I prayed about my attitude and worked to act with love and kindness. My hubby followed suit, and we turned things around!! I think these verses sum all of this up (1 Pet. 3:8-9). The first part of 1 Peter 3 talks about how husbands and wives should treat one another, and then he ties it all together in vs. 8 &9! :)
"8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be2courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing."
•Try not to let your insecurities hurt your intimacy
I won't get too personal on this one, but I think it's worth talking about. I don't think we talk about it enough or realize that it can be an issue. This has been a relatively new lesson for me. At times, I have certain insecurities that make me shy away from my husband. Whether I think I'm gross because I have coffee breath, I'm too hairy and haven't shaved, I haven't showered within the past few hours, etc., etc. I kept thinking, "If I think I'm gross or feel like I am, then so will my hubby." I started realizing that these things were causing me to push him away when he would try to be intimate. He and I finally had a really good and honest conversation about it a year ago. I told him everything I think that he is thinking and my insecurities. He would respond with how he either doesn't care about those things or doesn't even notice. One of the hardest parts was ACTUALLY BELIEVING what he told me!!
I felt like I needed to be physically PERFECT to be intimate with him, and all he wanted was my attention. I think most men are more simple than we think they are, especially in the moment. It's like they get blinders on and don't hone in on all the imperfections we tend to obsess about. I think some of these backward thoughts we have come from the hurt the porn industry has done in our culture. If you were like me, you most likely feel like you have to look like those girls. That's what guys want if they are watching it, right? But that's not truly what your husband wants. He wants your attention and wants to know that you want to be intimate with him. (& yes, porn addiction is a whole other topic that I'm not diving into). When you constantly push him away based on what you think he might think if you aren't "presentable" (haha), he takes it as you don't want to be intimate with him. And that's a bigger blow, especially over time, to a man than we realize. I'm not saying not to groom yourself and do things that make you feel more attractive. Just recognize that those things can hurt your intimacy and might not even be true!
A word of encouragement♡
If, like me, you have been doing all or most of these, or you feel like things in your marriage are not good, you can turn it around!! I genuinely believe that all is not lost. ♡ It's not easy, and you aren't going to get it right all the time. My hubby and I definitely don't. You might sit down with your spouse and tell them you recognize how you have been acting and want to work on it. If he is open to listening, you can bring up things he is doing as well (try to be kind and not accusatory!) Try to catch yourself before you start griping/complaining and stop. Remind yourself that you are grateful for the help, or whatever positive thing you can find to be thankful for. Apologize in the moment. Open up to your spouse about your insecurities. Listen and believe his responses. Be the one to break the cycle and be kind first, even when you feel like they don't deserve it. And continue to work on these things! Unfortunately, marriages don't change overnight, but I promise the work is worth it.
I realize that this blog post could be like a 5-hour podcast going into detail about all the different angles, but I mainly wanted to focus on what we as women can control. Obviously, there's way more to my story and way more to yours that are part of the whole picture. This is just a snapshot. If I had to sum up in a nutshell, what truly helped turn our marriage around- it was that both of us wanted to do what's right and be pleasing to the Lord. We opened up and communicated our needs and feelings, swallowed our pride, and apologized when needed, I focused on what I could change, and my hubby focused on what he could change, all while striving to have grace and compassion for one another. One day at a time, we got to where we are today, and it wasn't easy. In truth, a handful of times, I wanted to call it quits and leave because of how hurt I was, and as bad as our relationship was. I'm glad I didn't though. Neither of us would be the people we are today, and we would've never known the love, trust, and friendship we now share.
I promise it's beautiful on the other side. ♡