Our marriage is far from perfect, and always will be because, well, we’re us. Broken. Selfish.
Still, I am so over the moon thankful for my amazing husband. He is patient when I am so…not. He is cool and steady when I am a hot mess. He is grace personified, spoiling me, serving me…and he’s the most fun adventure companion.
But, we’ve been married almost 33 years, so there have been one or two seasons when we weren’t as crazy about each other.
The season when kids are tiny can be particularly stressful on marriages because you both are stretched thin like wet spaghetti ready to break. And you both desperately want to be selfish because YOU’ve changed 7,624 dirty diapers and got up with the crying baby LAST time, and cleaned up the crayon masterpiece on the couch, and YOU.ARE.SO.TIRED.
There was another season, though, about 8 years into our marriage, when the kids were out of diapers and I went through a time of having an incredibly critical spirit towards John.
You said WHAT? You didn’t do WHAT? You want to wear WHAT?
It seemed like everything made me cringe and I couldn’t figure out why. John and I were still the same broken and beautiful people who married each other, but I was wearing a different set of glasses.
There are times when absolutely, counseling is the best choice you can make. But there are other times when just a little tweaking is required to get back to a healthy spouse-loving place, and if I was talking to my 32-year-old self, here are some of the things I might say.
First of all, you see what you’re looking for.
Scientists call this “confirmation bias”.
Confirmation bias – refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs.
Have you ever noticed how once you decide you don’t like someone, you see more and more evidence that your judgment is correct?
I’m still not exactly sure why that was a bad season for us, but I do know marriage is like a flywheel – it takes some hard work to get it spinning one direction, but when it does, it seems to keep going.
When the flywheel is flying negative it takes some time and energy to change direction.
If I was talking to my younger self, I’d say, look for anything and everything authentic to affirm in your husband. And then SAY IT. Tell him how much you appreciate it when he’s home on time for dinner, or takes a turn reading Good Night Moon, or changes a diaper.
More than that, the next time you’re out in public, find a way to honestly brag about your spouse to someone else. If the conversation is about a politician making rash, irresponsible statements I could say “That’s one thing I really appreciate about John – he’s wise and patient. He thinks before he speaks.”
If I was talking to my younger, critical self, I’d also say, pray. And not a rant of “Lord can You even beLIEVE what this husband of mine just did?! For the love of all that’s holy, would You just CHANGE him already?” No, I’d say pray for grace, strength, wisdom, and patience for both you and your spouse. Pray that God would equip him for every good work as he goes through his day and then watch for God to show up.
Again, you see what you look for.
What about you? Those of you who have been married a long time, what might you add?