Today I am sharing a post from my blogger friend Lisa. Lisa is married with three beautiful boys and blogs at Delighting In My Days (linked at the bottom of this post). Whether you are newly married or single, these principles shared by Lisa will be helpful as you create your expectations for marriage (and even relationships in general!). All of these are issues I’ve faced in my own marriage and Lisa’s advice is well timed!
My husband and I married young. I was 20, days away from turning 21, and Justin was 21. I still had a year of college left and my husband started work at his first post-college job four days after our wedding. The adjustment to marriage was overall a small one for us but there were sticky heart issues that I needed to face. There are plenty of things to work at as a couple but there are some that only you can fix. Here are six of the heart problems that I found when we got married.
- Don’t criticize his help. It doesn’t have to be done your way. My husband is awesome at just doing whatever needs to be done. If there’s laundry on the couch to be folded he’ll fold it. But he does not fold the laundry like I do. I’m a visual person so I like to fold everything neatly and stack it in the closet with the folded side out so that it looks pretty. Justin just shoves it all on the shelf (even in the appropriate space!). And you know what I do about it now? I shut up. Can you imagine if I came along behind him and restraightened the linen closet? If I refolded the towels so that the corners matched exactly? He would probably never fold the laundry again. If he leaves crumbs under the table when he cleans up the kitchen, I shut up. When he dresses the baby and the clothes don’t match? You guessed it! I shut up! If you criticize the help you get you will solve your problem. You won’t get any help. Don’t get worked up about things that don’t really matter. Just say, “Thanks, babe,” and give him a kiss.
- Put the focus on him. Stop being self-centered. When we first got married I had all these ideas about how he was supposed to behave, especially when we were on dates. Do you know how often he acted like that? Pretty much never. He’s not a robot. The problem is that my entire focus on those dates was on me. How did I feel? Or even worse, how did he make me feel? Of course I was miserable because my expectations made me believe he didn’t love me. And he was miserable because I was so grumpy. We went on a date in January (with no children!) and I prayed as we were leaving that I would forget about me and make the date enjoyable for him. We both had a great time. Make the focus him and not you. This applies to more than dates. Forget waiting on him to make your day or your work easier. Forget waiting for him to realize that you need something. Look for a need you can fill. Find a way to be a special blessing to him. God will take care of you, I promise.
- He is not responsible for your feelings. He cannot complete you. That is a myth from movies. You must find your satisfaction in Jesus. Your happiness is not your husband’s responsibility. It’s yours. Waiting on him to make you happy is a dead-end street for your marriage. Your husband is not there to make you happy because he can’t. You have to decide that you are going to be happy. If you are in a bad marriage, you are still responsible for your feelings. If you aren’t married, don’t wait on a man to make you happy. He will not be able to. Be satisfied with the person you are becoming in Christ.
- Be the woman he fell in love with. You probably liked her too. When you are single or dating it’s easy to put your best face forward. You’re happy and you listen to his stories. You smile and compliment him. You make room for him in your life. Don’t forget those things. When you get married and get neck deep in jobs, bills, and babies, it’s easy to be focused on all the work. When he arrives home you show him a bill. When you go on a date you talk about problems. Stop! Of course there is a time to talk about those things but don’t let it be your only conversation. Be fun to be around sometimes. Laugh with him. Enjoy hobbies together. For that matter, look like the woman he fell in love with. Of course your appearance will change. But if he married a woman with charm and poise and some deodorant, stay that woman. Fix yourself up out of respect for yourself and he’ll benefit too.
- Don’t complain. God hates that. After we had our second child that I made sure that Justin knew everything that had gone “wrong” with my day. I wanted to be sure he knew I wasn’t sitting around while he worked. He never thought that; it was my own insecurity speaking. He doesn’t want me to be miserable. I realized I didn’t want him to feel sorry for me every morning as he drove off to work. So I started telling him how I was living my dream. I started sharing the great things about my day instead of whining all the time. Not only does it free him but I’m a more cheerful person too. I do share my struggles. He knows my challenges. But he doesn’t need my complaining.
- Don’t take everything personally. It’s not all about you. Men are sometimes quiet and contemplative (or the opposite) about a situation at work or a problem they need to handle. If he seems out of sorts, ask him. And then believe his answer. I can’t state this enough. You must accept his answer and go on. (If you are dating someone and you can’t believe what he tells you, break it off.) Don’t nag him about what is wrong and don’t assume that it has something to do with you. Just because he’s being quiet doesn’t mean he no longer finds you attractive. It could just mean he’s had a long week and he needs a nap. If you don’t nag and you make a habit of listening he will probably discuss his problems with you at some point.
All of these issues stem from your relationship with God. If you are satisfied in God you make fewer demands on your husband. Give your husband the gift of a woman who is complete and confident in Christ.
Once you are satisfied in God, learn to focus on others. Get your eyes off of yourself and do what pleases God and helps others. Practicing these two things will bless your marriage and yourself in ways you can’t imagine but they are not easy things to learn. Marriage is not an easy thing to do well – but it is worth the effort.
Lisa Hensley is a wife of seven years and a mother of three. She writes to encourage women to be in the Word and about their work. She blogs at Delighting in my Days and you can also find her on Instagram- @delighting_days.