These stories have been shared with permission, in the hopes that our walk through these times may give someone hope to say the right thing, smile when you want to scream, and keep on loving.
A few weeks ago, I returned from a weekend conference. I was tired and the kitchen was messy. So, I lost it. I let my exhaustion take the driver’s seat. Ugly words, sighs, and glances were my thank you for a weekend away enjoying friends, food, and photography.
This rare fight brought us to a point where we had to be honest about where we were on this springtime walk we call marriage.
For far too long, I’d been allowing my sighs and glances to speak for my dissatisfaction, instead of sitting down like an adult and giving my husband deeper insight into what I need.
I’ve made grand speeches about how husbands can’t read minds, but behind my own door, I was expecting the impossible.
I could blame it on morning sickness, 4 kids, adding kindergarten to the mix, or any number of things. But that would not have moved us closer to the marriage that I know we both want. That would not have moved us closer to the marriage that I know we can have.
There are times in every relationship – friendship, family, coworkers, everyone – that you must confront the uncomfortable. If you want that relationship to grow and thrive, you must hit the pause button on the mix tape playing in the background and muddle through the uneasy reality that there are things you could be doing to make it better.
I don’t like change. When I was little, I’d order the exact same thing at a restaurant every time. Once I found something I liked, I would stick to it and never deviate. On Sundays after church, I ordered popcorn shrimp with a side of tartar sauce at Red Lobster for as long as I can remember. On Wednesday nights, I’d order 1/2 a plain jane and 1/2 a chicken salad on croissant sandwich at Jason’s Deli every time.
But I needed to change. I needed to get to the root of what part of my behavior was hurting my marriage.
It was the eye rolling.
It was the sighing.
Little cues in my book, loud criticism in his.
Are any of you in the same boat?
He felt unappreciated and scolded on most days. That stinks. That really, really stinks. I love him deeply and dearly and to learn that this is how I was making him feel crushed me.
I asked what I could do to let him know how much I appreciated him. Maybe it was because it was late at night. Maybe it was because we just didn’t want to fight anymore, but we started joking around. I told him that I was going to start pointing out every single time I was trying to show him I appreciated him. I said this as I bent over and picked up his socks off the floor. I tossed them over to him and told him that when I turn his socks inside out to wash them, I’m showing him appreciation.
We laughed and agreed to keep working on our love.
Over the next week, it was actually fun to point out to each other when we were trying to show appreciation. We had a date that Friday, and when we ordered, he started to order the salad I remembered he didn’t like the last time he tried it. I pointed it out and he smiled and changed his order. When the waiter walked away, we joked about my nerdy, compulsive ways of showing him appreciation – by remembering the little things about him.
I’m still working on it. I wear all my emotions on my face, just like a good little emoticon.
I will keep working on it until my first reaction is kindness and humility and thankfulness, remembering the beautiful man that God has made the head of our family.