Becoming husband and wife was such a strangely comfortable experience for me. It felt right, I was hopeful, and I just knew it was going to be great… hard, but still great. My twenty something self didn’t fully understand the word “hard” at that time, and my optimism quickly dissipated. In fact, I became less and less hopeful our marriage was bound for greatness as each day passed, because we kept comparing ourselves to other people. My husband would justify his not being home for dinner once a week (or more) by telling me how great he was by getting home for most dinners because that’s more than I could say about other husbands.
The thing is, I don’t care two hoots about those other husbands, I only care about my mine. I care about the man my children call “dad”. What works for other families isn’t what works for ours. I will not sit here and say, “You’re right! I’m so lucky!” Because if he wants to pull that card, then I’d be happy to tell him all the ways those “other dads” out perform him in many other areas. Which led me to ponder, why would we settle for what everyone else has?
If I wanted to be like everyone else, then I wouldn’t be in Tulsa right now. If I was okay being like everyone else then I’d be working too and our kids would be in day care for 8-9 hours a day. We would be hustling in and out of everywhere. If I wanted to be like everyone else then my life would not have lead me to this blog. I’d have nothing to write about. The point I’m trying to make is: I’ve never made a decision about my family based off what others are doing around me.
Then why do I do this with my marriage? I’m constantly looking at other who appear happier and more loving towards us and think, maybe we should do this? Maybe we should try that too! You see I’m not as confident when it comes to marriage as I am in motherhood. Being a wife makes me feel incompetent. There is so much I don’t understand in that area.
When it comes to the children, I can still sort of remember back to my childhood and maybe relate. I can give them the benefit of the doubt at times because they’re young and they haven’t quite mastered any skill and much less their tempers, feelings, emotions, and the like. But husbands are different. They’re grown up (supposedly) and they’re our equals, however I’ve never been a man. I have no brothers and I’m learning my dad was a very special type of man. I do NOT know anything going on inside my husband’s head.
Being sort of an anxious type by nature, I’ve overcome much of that personally and again as a mother, but my anxiousness has only increased as a wife. I worry if dinner isn’t ready at a specific time. I worry if the arrival of my husband after work was warm and welcoming so as to set the tone for the rest of the night. I wonder if I’m meeting his needs. I wonder if he’s happy with me. Am I putting enough effort into myself to show I still want to pursue him? What can I do more?
Some of you may look at that and think that’s silly. It may very well be, but all I know is I cannot control anyone but myself, so if something isn’t going right, I’ll do what I feel is needed in order to fix the situation. I can only count on myself. So when I’m doing everything I can, or at least can think of at that given time, and things are still just unsettling with our relationship or our day to day interactions, I become anxious. I begin to feel helpless.
Realizing at that point that there is probably nothing else I can do to make things better makes me feel helpless. How to do I overcome having a mediocre marriage when I’m only 50% of the equation?
- Don’t forget why you fell in love in the first place. Remember the time you’ve spent dating, pursuing one another, dreaming of you life ever after. Thoughts such as these will give you a better perspective when interacting with your spouse. We do actually need to give them the benefit of the doubt more than we believe. Things that happen at work, on the drive home, during a conversation on the phone, etc. have a lot more weight on our spouses than they used to have. If I love this man as much as I say I do, then loving him would include giving him grace more often.
- Break away from routine, from the mundane. Our family thrives on structure, repetition, and routine, but every once in awhile a good spontaneous adventure can help jolt a little life back into us. The same goes for our marriage. Do something out of the ordinary and do it just for fun. Someone will most likely drag their feet a little, especially if it wasn’t their initial idea, but do something to snap you our of the mundane features of your daily life.
- Get proper rest. When you’re tired or exhausted, nothing feels right. In fact, it feels as if you’re working endlessly at something that will never get better. Who likes that feeling? This may be one of those reasons you should consider declutter and unbusying your life. Get rid of some of your responsibilities so you can rest properly and therefore reset. A good push of the reset button can rejuvenate so much: your marriage, your motherhood, you spiritual life, etc.
- Lower your expectations. Wait a tick. Didn’t she just say she didn’t want to settle for mediocre? Let me explain. I want a fulfilling marriage, but what does that really mean? Does it mean we go on extravagant vacations or date nights? Does it mean we’re going to spend every waking hour in true bliss? Does it mean I’ll get everything I desire? No. No. No. No. Don’t settle, but be realistic.
- Set Goals. This you technically can’t do on your own, but it is something you can prompt. Set some small goals for your future. Setting goals means working together at something. There isn’t a worse feeling, in my opinion, than working at something for your family completely alone. It’s sort of like feeling isolated while sitting and smiling with your husband. Take that in for a moment, and then start prompting little goals for you to work on together. Eventually you may lead yourselves to bigger and grander goals.