When I first received this article submitted by Leslie, I was a bit skeptical at first glance. I thought it was going to be filled with lofty grand advice like, greet your husband at the door naked or make him a homemade dessert at least three times a week, kind of tips. Kind of like I had tons of theories and advice for parents before I had children, all so lofty and grand but unrealistic. But I must say going on 10 years of marriage, I can definitely vouch for all of Leslie’s thoughts on the subject of marriage.
Contributing Writer: Leslie Foster from Ponderings From an Ohio Farm Girl
So, you’re probably thinking that title sounds a little crazy, but I can explain. I’m 33 (and three days). I am single. This means that I have a LOT of married friends. The interesting thing about watching relationships from the outside is that you can often see things more clearly than the people in the relationship, because you don’t have to wade through the confusion of emotions. You look; you see. It’s quite enlightening, actually. From the watching, I have gained some nuggets of wisdom. Here are a couple that I find particularly good.
(sidenote: Some of these ideas are not my original thoughts. Most of them were graciously given to me by others, directly or otherwise. and you don’t have to be married for these tips to be appropriate.)
1. A woman’s deepest need is to be loved. A man’s deepest need is to be respected.
Ladies, please don’t berate your husband, and for the love of Pete, don’t do it in public. It’s painful for us innocent bystanders, and it undermines the foundation of your relationship. [And when I say public, I mean anyone beyond yourself, your husband, and God. Even your kids count as public in this case.] Gents, you get the challenge of being protective without stifling, and I’m not gonna lie: in my opinion, your job is the harder one. My advice to you is to ask her what makes her feel loved and cherished. But no matter what she says, everyone who knows you should know you love your wife. If they don’t, you’re doing something wrong.
2. If you’re waiting for the perfect spouse, you’re gonna want to pack a toothbrush. It’s not out there.
Reason Number 1: You’re imperfect.
Reason Number 2: So is everyone else.
You will fight. You will screw stuff up. You will hurt each other, sometimes intentionally and sometimes by accident. If this hasn’t happened yet, you’re either in denial or your relationship is really young.
Conflict is not a sign that you picked the wrong person. It doesn’t mean you should give up. This is the biggest relational lie of our time. When things get hard, you don’t quit. You put on your work gloves and look for a solution.
Be humble. You are almost always at fault to some extent.
Talk to each other. Pray over it. Apologize. Always apologize.
Even if you don’t know what you did, you can apologize for hurting the other person.
Sincere apologies are to relationships what cooking spray is to a casserole dish. It makes the crap come off easier.
The commitment is critical because the conflict is inevitable. Don’t walk away. Give God room to amaze you with his power to bring restoration.
3. Your words are powerful. What you say matters. What you don’t say matters. Even if you’re all googly-eyed-in-love and you think he can read your mind, he can’t (neither can she). Say what you want to be known. Tell them what you love about them. Tell them how much you appreciated that thing they did or said. Use sticky-notes. Or text messages. Or emails. Or your voice.
Communication is complicated. It takes work because what you mean isn’t always what you say. And what you say isn’t always what is heard.
If you’re shying away from this one, your pride is probably all that’s stopping you. So suck it up, Cupcake. Get over your pride and say the words.
4. Don’t punish. You aren’t your significant other’s parent. You’re not their god. Therefore, you don’t have the right to punish them. Not even if they were wrong. Still not ok. Do everything you can to make it right on your side and pray for God to work on their side. No cold shoulder-ing. No passive aggression. No withholding stuff or needling them with your words.
The goal here is restoration, not revenge.
And when this one seems too hard to consider, think of this awesome quote by Max Lucado: “You will never be called upon to give anyone more grace than God has already given you.”
5. Whoever you are, you are a better person when you are walking with the Lord.
Your spouse either benefits or suffers as a direct result of how you are doing with God. This should motivate you to make your relationship with God a priority. Anything that makes you too busy to spend time with God is an idol. And I do mean anything. Your hobby. Your friends. Even your ministry. Identify “it” and fix it. Let it go. If not for your relationship with God, do it for your relationship with your spouse.
I hope something here will be useful to you in your own relationships. And I’m always on the lookout for other good tips, so if you have one to add to the list, please leave a comment below!
Fabulous image is from Jill at Sweet Confections Photography.
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