Time really does fly by. This week especially demonstrates how fast time flies because this very week marks our ten-year wedding anniversary. Ten years married. Wow!! It seems like no time at all has passed and at the same time, it seems so much longer than ten years sometimes. I’m no expert, nor am I a professional marriage counselor. But over the ten years, I think we have come up with some ideas that work pretty well for us.
Ten Years Goes Quick
We have packed a lot into our ten years of marriage. There’s been a lot of fun and a lot of serious stuff too. We’ve bought cars, a house, had two kids and traveled. We’ve had health scares, surgeries, deaths of loved ones and Autism. My husband got a MAJOR promotion at his job, while on the flip side, that allowed me to quit my job to be a stay at home mommy! All this seems like it happened in the blink of an eye.
Has it all been sunshine and butterflies and joyful? Of course not. Has it all been terrible? Absolutley NOT! Marriage is a lot of work, ESPECIALLY when you have little kids and big jobs. You have to really work hard to stay as tuned in as you can and not lose each other in the shuffle of daily life. It happens all the time. We’ve watched lots of friends go through the struggle.
Celebrate the Success
But lots of people succeed too. I realize that the statistic that half of all marriages fail is startling. But the flip side of that same statistic is that half of all marriages are not failing. No one gets congratulated if things are going well! And coincidentally, things aren’t going well because you are lazy and complacent about your marriage. Things are going well because you are working hard to make that union work.
Advice From A Radio Show
One day, several years ago, I was in the car listening to a call-in radio show that gives advice. The woman that called in ranted on and on about how her husband didn’t do anything to help her around the house, didn’t help enough with the kids, didn’t make her feel appreciated, etc. Her list went on for quite a while. The caller ended her rant by asking the host “What should I do? Is there any way to make this any better for me?” And the answer the radio host gave stopped me in my tracks. (Well, I kept driving… but I sure did mull this over the entire day! And for days to come)
The Swift Kick in The Gut
The host, ever so calmly, without so much as missing a beat said, “I wonder, what have you done today, or even recently, to make your husband glad he’s married to you?” To which the caller got super offended and restated all the things that she saw her husband as doing wrong and what he wasn’t doing for her. And the radio host again said “I’m not interested in what you THINK he’s done wrong, I want to know what have YOU done today to make your husband glad he’s married to YOU?”
The call went on for several more minutes, and ever so slowly and reluctantly, you heard realization dawn on the caller. Maybe every problem she had in the world was not her husband’s fault. Perhaps her husband could very well have a list of complaints about her that was just as long (maybe longer!) as her list of complaints about him. She was so wrapped up in how she thought SHE was being mistreated, that she had never stopped to even imagine she was just as guilty if not more.
Once the caller was in the headspace that the radio host was looking for, she began to walk the caller through ideas both large and small that she could try to improve her home life. The host suggested something as simple as greeting your husband at the door with a smile, a hug and a kiss could change the trajectory of your entire evening. Especially if you made it part of your routine and he always knew he was coming home to a sweet reception.
The radio host also went ahead and floated the idea that the entire world didn’t, in fact, revolve around this woman caller. And that perhaps she should realize THAT little nugget of information as well.
Host Wrap Up
Additionally, the host suggested one small act of kindness will lead to another, and another, and another in your marriage. And he will soon want to reciprocate that same kindness. And before you know it, everything at home is more pleasant and no one is fussing or complaining about the to do lists or the mess. Everyone is happy to pitch in and help, because you are a team.
Take Away Lesson
After this short call, I felt like I had gone to a marriage master class. I have no idea if the host was actually in any way qualified to give marriage advice, but I sure felt like that was a solid nugget of advice to put into practice. It’s so simple if you just ask yourself, “What (if anything at all) have I done today to make my partner glad they married me?”
Everyone is busy. It’s super easy to get swamped in day to day life and not take the time for the little things that seem trivial, like greeting your partner after their long day. And if you don’t watch out, lots of those little things can turn into really big things that lead to big problems in a marriage.
I felt like this was borderline genius advice. So very simple. But so very important.
A few other lessons I’ve learned in the last 10 years:
Everyone is Tired
There is no award to be won for the most tired partner. There’s no competition. Of course you are tired. If you are married for ten years, chances are you have a young family. You are in the season of life where you are going to be tired. Did you think you’d be raising small kids AND be a bundle of energy all day every day??
And just because you were up with the baby all night and your husband slept all night is NOT a reason for you to be a grouch to him all day long. Don’t get me wrong, you need some rest at some point too, but there is no need for both of you to be exhausted. Especially if you are going to be home and your husband is going to work the next day.
Also, while we are at it…
If you are staying at home with the kids, don’t think for a minute that your partner is off at work having a grand time and vacationing at a five star resort each day. They are working hard, earing income for your family, and trying to keep their company running successfully.
Sure, there aren’t two little tornadoes of action in their office all day hurling handfuls of cheerios everywhere and needing diaper changes. But there is enough corporate level crap they navigate through every single day; trust that they deal with their fair share of poop too. Just a different kind of poop… Wink… Wink.
Their office time might be kid free, but it’s not stress-free. Try to keep that in mind.
SAY WHAT YOU NEED
If you don’t take any other point from this article, take this one. Please!
MEN ARE NOT MIND READERS
Tell them what you want or need. My husband is happy to watch the kids while I go take a bath or a nap or run to the store by myself. But he can’t magically know if I want to do those things. He’s not a mind reader! My husband is actually pretty good about asking now and then if I want or need a break. But if there’s a day that I really need a break and he hasn’t asked, I’ll ask him. Or I’ll let him know well ahead of time before he gets home… I need a break… and bring home ice cream. While you are at it, dinner too!
And guess what? He’s thrilled to help and to let me go do whatever I need to do. He just simply wasn’t thinking of it right that minute. Your partner isn’t slighting you or ignoring you if they aren’t asking you exactly what you want or need 24 hours a day. They are busy thinking about their own stuff too. Simply ask for what you need. I bet you’ll be shocked how excited your partner is to help.
He has his own worries too…
Keep in mind, this husband of yours is NOT standing at the grill, flipping burgers, thinking about all the ways he can ignore your needs today. The poor guy is standing there flipping burgers probably thinking about one of the five meetings he had today at work, or the 4 meetings he has scheduled tomorrow. Wondering how he’ll get his graphics turned in to the printers on time. Or the low estimate for the interest rates. And he’s wondering if it’s time for the van to get an oil change. Or wondering if you are saving enough for college for the kids. He’s looking around to see if he can squeeze in mowing the lawn before dark. Will the Braves ever go to the World Series again?
I’m guessing all this goes through his mind in less than sixty seconds. Everybody has their own stuff going on in their heads. Simply ask for what you need and stand back and be amazed by what happens. And keep in mind this is a two-way street. Listen when you partner asks for what they need too.
So, the question for you to figure out is “Why is my partner glad to be married to me today?”
There are a million little things you can do to make your partner feel cared for and loved. Here are a few ideas:
- Make their favorite lunch to take to work. With
everythingthey need including drink, napkin, etc. All he has to do is sit down and eat.
- Prepare his favorite meal for dinner, especially if you know it’s been a long day.
- Give him time to relax when he gets home from work. Don’t start throwing kids and chores at him. Let him catch his breath for a minute.
- Listen when your partner talks about their day. Make sure they do the same for you.
- Try to schedule regular date nights. It can be tricky. Try hard and make it happen. Even if it’s just at home after the kids go to bed. Take the time to connect and watch a tv show or a movie. Let your partner know that time with them still matters and is valued. I know you are tired. I get it. Trust me. But will you be that much MORE tired if you take the time to watch a quick 30-minute show together and unwind from your day?
- If your partner is clearly exhausted, send them to bed early and take care of the night time routine with the kids yourself.
- Please and thank you never go out of style. Use them. Use them often.
Say thank you. A lot. Show some appreciation for all the help and hard work along the way.
Go Practice – Now
These are just a few ideas to help you get started. You know your partner best, so you can come up with more ways to make them thankful every single day that they married you.
You could even ask them what would make them feel the most loved and appreciated. Ask – and watch the deer caught in headlights look you get. And then really listen to what they say and take it to heart.
“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get–only with what you are expecting to give–which is everything.”
– Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of My Life
Will it be possible to do all the things all the time? Of course not. But doing some of those things most of the time will really help your marriage. And make your partner glad they are married to you today.