Randy recently asked me, “Do you feel marriage is hard work?”
Loaded question? Nope. Not the way we are.
Marriage has never felt like “work” to us.
You’re probably thinking several things – you’re young, newly married, and/or you just have your head in the clouds. Am I right?
Most of that is probably subjective, but I’m 30 (though I’ve always been accused of acting older than my age), we’ve been married three years (not twenty years but not newlyweds either), and, no, my head isn’t in the clouds (oh, birdy – just kidding).
We asked ourselves “Why has our marriage never felt like work?” After all, reflection is a valuable life-tool.
I’ve listed some things below that we do which seems to be different from many couples we see around us. Maybe these will explain why we don’t feel like we have to “work” at our marriage.
In a disagreement we …
- Use respectful tones.
- Try to communicate.
- Don’t take out anger on the other.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me… Yeah, who has ever spouted this nursery rhyme and believed it? Words do hurt – more so than physical hurt at times.
And tone can portray what we really think of a person more than actual words. How many times have we said what was required, but our tone dripped disgust, sarcasm, sadness, disdain? Our words say one thing, while tone negates the words. Especially in anger.
Communication is key during a disagreement. This is something I’ve had to keep in mind, because my natural inclination is to withdraw. I’m an introvert. Hubby’s an extrovert, and he sure doesn’t like it when you say you’re fine when you aren’t. Again, my natural tendency. But that’s dishonest. If I can’t talk about something yet, I just tell him we’ll talk about it later.
It doesn’t take long to apologize.
Unfortunately, neither of us is perfect – as much as I’d like to be and as much as it burns me up not to be right (perfectionist anyone?).
Whatever happens, whether we feel our tones were a little snippy or one of us wasn’t listening to the other, it doesn’t take long and one or both of us is apologizing. It’s funny because usually no matter what happened, one will prompt it (never the same person each time) and then the other will usually do the same.
Usually the response is, “Why are YOU apologizing?” But rarely is a situation cut-and-dried where only one person is right and the other wrong.
We only say positive things about each other in front of others.
This is a curious thing. I don’t have bad thoughts about my husband. I know his faults – I’m not looking through a rosy haze.
But actions and attitude follow thoughts. If I nitpick my husband or jump on the bash-your-husband bandwagon, my attitude will follow.
My husband is worthy of my respect, especially in front of others. Think about it. The person with whom you are most intimate. The one who knows the good and the bad about you – and still loves you. How would it feel if he took that and broadcast it to the whole world and made it – made you – seem less?
My husband has a way of making me feel special. Actually, things I’ve always perceived as faults, he sees as beauty. And he toots me to everyone else as the most awesome person on the planet. Crazy! I know!
For the first time in my life, I have a better understanding of how God sees me. God doesn’t see my faults as His child. He sees my beauty. This is what our marriages are – an expression of God’s love to His church.
We talk about everything.
We talk about God, kids, each other, parents, money, hurts, dreams…you get the idea. We can’t get enough of each other.
Let me give you some background. I mentioned that I’m an introvert. I’m shy. I’ve never been a talker. I find it easier to write or be with animals than most humans. And men? Get me around the opposite sex and I clam up faster than a cat in bath water. At least until my husband.
It’s important to talk.
Along those lines, we don’t make plans without talking to each other first. We don’t spend money, volunteer time, make major life decisions (like job changes), etc. without talking to the other. We’re a team.
We keep our eyes and comments where they belong.
There are many colorful sayings for wandering eyes- just because I have one outfit doesn’t mean I can’t shop around; I’m not blind. The list is endless.
Faithfulness begins in the mind and heart.
Proverbs 4:25 says:
Wandering eyes and the resulting comments break down relationships because:
- Your focus is taken from your spouse and thrust onto someone else. Whether you admit it or not, you’re vulnerable to indiscretions. Are you not already being indiscrete when you think of another man?
- You tell your wife you prefer another woman to meet your needs. No one wants to hear their spouse admiring another.
- You pull away from each other. You may not even realize it, but a couple who’s all about each other, will be closer than one who gushes about others.
We allow each other to be.
I’m a laid-back person. I can be lazy and forgetful. I’m also NOT administratively gifted. The thought of checking up on a bill makes my stomach knot.
Randy’s my opposite. He’s the administratively gifted one, the list person, got to be moving at all times. And an unpaid bill is like a cloud hanging over him. Even so, he never nags me. He’ll gently remind me or ask me – sparingly.
Nagging. That’s a woman’s prerogative, right? I don’t think so.
Proverbs 21:19 (Holman) says:
And Proverbs 27:15 (Holman) says:
I’ve taken those verses to heart, and Randy notices. He’s told me many times, “I actually enjoy doing projects around the house. I can do them at my own pace because you’re not asking me all the time ‘When are you going to do this?’ or ‘You haven’t done that yet?'”
We asked God’s will for us before we got married.
I waited a long time before I met Randy. I made some mistakes before I met him. Like many people, I got tired of waiting and tried to make my own way. I ended up with heartache – relationships that were bad for me.
Rabbit trail and another story, I know, but I say that to say this – I knew what a catch Randy was when I met him. Never had anyone opened doors for me. That only happened in movies, right? He respected what I had to say. He didn’t think I was stupid. He was exactly the kind of man I wanted to marry.
If I had followed my previous MO, I would have jumped straight off the ledge from there. BUT, my past mistakes had at least taught me:
- That I had not sought God’s will.
- That I didn’t act on God’s will immediately when I was aware of it. I tamped down what I knew in my heart – to my own destruction.
Randy was such a wonderful man. But bottom line – if God had not intended him to be my husband, it would be a disaster. No matter how good either of us were. I had to be willing to seek God’s will and immediately obey.
So I asked.
God answered me. Twice. I wanted to make sure of His answer after the first time, and He was gracious. I also wanted to make sure my feelings weren’t clouding my judgement.
I found out later Randy did the same as we discussed our plans.
I think this is where marriages fail. God isn’t involved. And if we do acknowledge Him, He isn’t at the center. We can’t love each other the way we should without the Perfecter of love.
We pray for each other and our marriage.
A marriage must be built on a foundation. Like anything in life – a house, friendship, government – a strong foundation is vital to a healthy and lasting marriage. God gives us that foundation.
God knows what’s best for each of us. He knows what pleases my husband. He knows what my marriage needs. Praying to Him, and putting Him at the center makes everything easier. We don’t need to run to Him AFTER there’s a problem because we’re already talking to Him. We’re seeking His will all the time. Asking how to be the spouse the other needs.
I think marriage is more an investment than “work” in the sense that everyone claims. My marriage doesn’t feel like a job. It is something that takes love and care. When we have a foundation of God and can trust that we have eyes only for each other – that we’ll love each other no matter – we keep things from getting to the point to where it does feel like “work.”
What about you? Do you feel marriage is work? What do you do in your marriage that you feel makes a big difference in the long-run?