If you've been married longer than a minute then you know that marriage is tough! Today might be hearts and flowers while tomorrow is toilets and tantrums. That's just the way of it.
This week I have three tips to get you started. Try them all at once or tackle one at a time. Either way, get started!
Tip #1: Turn it around
I've been married for 27 years. And honestly we have a pretty traditional marriage. I take care of "hearth and home" while he takes care of cars, lawn, and pigs. I've always been the one to cook. I make all our meals and generally from scratch. I just love to cook and bake. So we have hot meals - breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and usually dessert) - that I lovingly prepare. It's one of my love languages. I love sharing food that I made with others.
Then my husband bought a Big Green Egg. Up to this point he had various grills and would make hamburgers once in a while, but it never was a "thing." Well, I don't know if you know this, but the Big Green Egg (BGE) is a whole culture all its' own. He belongs to online groups of BGE chefs and watches Alton Brown now! He's even on various text chats with other BGE owners. He started with some grilling here and there. That was fine. But then he started making side dishes, appetizers, and lunches.
Now he was stepping on my toes! I am the one who provides meals for our family. (you hear my petulant voice, right?) I'm the one who shops and cooks and gets all the accolades. I'm the one who plans a menu and cooks for guests. He's supposed to pour drinks and tell stories!
This upset me for quite a while. I really felt like he was in a place he didn't belong.
But then I saw his joy. I realized that while cooking and baking for my family brings me joy, it clearly does the same for him.
How can I begrudge him the joy of sharing a gift with his family and friends?
I realized I was often cranky with him when he cooked, and now I knew why. I took some time to apologize for my bad attitude and explained that for 27 years we had a system. The system is changing and I need time to adapt and change with it.
The important part is that he's enjoying cooking. Are there some kinks in the system that need to be worked out? Sure. But his enjoyment needs to be more important to me than me feeling put out. Philippians 2:3 is clear that we are to put others before ourselves.
So sometimes we need to turn our complaints around and see the situation from our spouse's point of view. And you never know, there could be some really good brisket in the deal!
Tip #2: Compliment Him
I'm an early bird. Bible study at 5 a.m. while I watch the sun rise is my happy place. Throw in a cup of coffee and it's a slice of heaven. My husband, on the other hand, is a night owl. He wants to stay up all night and does his best organizing and thinking then.
Once in a while, when I've been asleep for hours, he will come to bed and snuggle up behind me. He'll start whispering love for me. I'm sure he does this more times than I know, as I'm sure I do not always wake up for it. But he whispers how beautiful he thinks I am, how grateful he is for all I do for our family, and then he lists all the things he sees me do (you know, those household activities you think no one notices). I feel all warm and cozy. Not just because he's snuggled against me, but because he SEES me. He sees what I do and how hard I work to keep our family healthy and happy.
The hitch is that he does all kinds of things to make our family healthy and happy, too. Yet I rarely acknowledge them. I may acknowledge that the lawn is mowed, the car gassed up, or the Christmas boxes taken to the storage room, but I don't often compliment him for doing these things.
Maybe you're like me. You see the things your husband does, but rarely take time to really tell him how grateful you are that the chores are done. This goes beyond thanking him for doing the chore, but telling him what it is that he did well. Really make it a compliment.
I'll be honest. One of the reasons I don't do this regularly is that he doesn't seem to care. He doesn't answer or show any sign of hearing me. But I know he does. And research backs that up. No matter that we are in 2022 - men want to be our heroes, ladies! They want to save the day, solve the problem, and fix what's broken. They want us to see them as valuable. And the only way we let them know that they are valuable is to tell them.
So this weekend, thank your spouse for something he did. Even better, thank him in front of others or in front of the kids. I know that my husband cares when I compliment something he did in front of our boys. And it's good for my teenage sons to know I appreciate what their father does around our home and farm.
I recently told my husband that he's still very handsome. He didn't say much, but I know he heard and i know that it meant a lot to him.
How can you compliment your spouse this week?
Tip #3: Kiss 💋
If you've been reading along with me for a while, you know this is one of my hot topics. Kissing is essential for marriage!
It's far too easy to get carried away by life - kids, work, school, chores, shopping, finances, in-laws - and forget the basics. Kissing is basic marital maintenance behavior.
Bad breath? Go brush and rinse. Chapped winter lips? Go put on some moisturizer. Making dinner? Turn the burner off for a minute. Dogs need to be fed? Ask the kids to do it.
There's never a good reason NOT to kiss. And seriously, we're talking about moving beyond a peck on the lips. I mean a good, old-fashioned lip lock. Count to 30 before you even think of pulling away! It's okay if your kids see you kiss - they need to know that Mom and Dad have a special relationship. (Move much beyond a kiss and definitely take that behind closed doors, though!)
So, go kiss your spouse! Maybe this is a good excuse to go buy a new lipstick. 💄
That's it. Three separate things we can do - with our thoughts, our words, and our actions.