Most counselors will be quick to advise that a good marriage doesn’t start with your spouse, it starts with yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before: You can’t control what anyone else does and you are only responsible for your actions.
You first hear it from your mom who so desperately wants you to ignore your sibling instead of being ruffled by every little thing they do. Then, you hear it in the form of marriage advice because, if you think about it, it’s really the same issue. You’re just a little older now and it’s with a different person.
Like most wisdom that endures through life stages, I think this is good advice. It is almost always more effective to take a look at what we can do better rather than trying to change the other person.
It’s simple, but it’s not always easy.
I’ve found it helpful in a few small areas that I’d like to share for our mutual benefit. Typing it out keeps me accountable, and I hope it encourages you.
1. I give Dellan limitless free passes for a few small things.
If you’re like me, there are some things your husband does that just rub you the wrong way. I’m talking about things like not putting their clothes in the hamper, leaving hair in the sink, or forgetting to rinse their dishes. Like I said, we’re talking about the small stuff here.
It’s probably something that happens multiple times per week and maybe even several times per day. Maybe you’ve addressed it verbally or maybe you haven’t. Either way, you’re noticing it.
What would happen if you chose to stop keeping record of whatever that thing is?
[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
I know that I would be heartbroken to find out that someone was silently keeping track of all the little things I do wrong. In fact, I’ve had relationships before where that’s exactly what the other person was doing, and it was very hurtful. All I wanted was a little bit of grace.
So, in order to reflect the grace upon grace shown to me, I’ve given him a few permanent passes in my mind. If those things come up, I just tell myself, “He has a pass for that” and go about my business. I don’t dwell on it, I don’t let bitterness take root, and I don’t complain to anyone else about it.
If they were serious issues, I wouldn’t slide them under the rug. The thing is, they’re just not that serious. Life is short, we all deserve some grace, and I don’t want to spend 50 years talking about socks or shampoo bottles.
2. I’m welcoming at the end of the day no matter the circumstances.
Dellan has been working a lot lately. We just finished up about 5 weeks of him working from around 7:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night. On the day I’m writing this, he’s at a training out of town and he headed out at 4:30 this morning.
It’s just a season, and there will be other seasons like it throughout our life together.
He does a great job of communicating to me beforehand when he knows he will have to work a lot. I am almost never notified the day of that he’s staying late. He makes sure to look ahead at his schedule so that I am not unpleasantly surprised.
Still, it’s not fun to have him gone. And this is especially true now while I’m home all day doing online school and taking care of a new baby.
However, this is another area in which I don’t want to let bitterness get ahold of my heart.
I want home to be an inviting and welcoming place for him even if I’ve had a tough time with the baby or the appliances are breaking or I’ve been writing a paper between feedings. I know that he’s been dealing with his own stress, too. And now that he’s home, I want us to just enjoy our time together.
Sometimes I have to spend a few minutes composing myself before he walks in the door. I pray and ask God to help me be a soft place to land for my family. More often than not, this is enough to turn my attitude around.
3. I don’t want to lose my gratitude.
If you’ve read my other posts, you know that I’m big on gratitude. It only makes sense that we end with this.
Dellan and I are busy, and we both take responsibility for household tasks. I’m thankful for the way he is my partner in taking care of our family and home.
More recently, since becoming parents, it feels like we are constantly just switching off for tasks. One of us holds or soothes or feeds the baby while the other makes a meal or takes the dog out.
On top of the everyday chores, Dellan does a lot of little acts of service for me throughout the day. He makes me breakfast and brings it to me during Elora’s first feeding of the morning, for example. Service is his primary love language, and I can definitely tell how much he cares for me through his actions.
All this to say, Dellan does a lot for me. And I’m doing my best to thank him often.
When I look into the future, I picture us as a sweet old couple who still shows gratitude for each other. When he helps me put on my coat or holds a hand out to help me stand up, I want, “Thank you, dear” to still roll effortlessly off my tongue.
I hope that thankfulness still comes easily, that I still love greeting him with a smile whenever he walks in the door, and that I’m still giving him grace and the benefit of the doubt.
Like with most things, it’s best to start now.