I’ve been married for….(*checks calendar*)….almost twelve years, and even though that feels like a long time to me (it’s almost a third of my life), I understand that’s a drop in the bucket for some married couples. So while I certainly don’t have all the answers, I have picked up a few things in the category of “What to do” and I could write a book on the subject of “What Not to Do.”
From the very beginning of marriage to the day death does you part, a husband and wife are going to be in a constant state of growth. You’re either going to grow farther apart or grow closer together. With prayer and commitment, it will be the latter. And as you grow, there are some things that can be done to ensure that the marriage is strengthened not weakened.
For an example, consider the “quiet time” time of day. This is the part of the day when the husband and wife spend the most time talking to each other. For some it’s early in the morning before they separate to their jobs, schools, etc. For others it is the end of the day, maybe during dinner or in the evening when the kids are (finally) in bed and the house is a little quieter. Whenever it is, it is in this period of the day that husband and wife will either grow closer together (and each look forward to this time of day) or grow apart (and try to find ways to avoid this period) because it’s when they will spend the most time in their day eyeball to eyeball, just…talking to each other.
When we were younger and still newly wed, that “quiet time” for Lauren and me was right when I got home from work. I usually left the Forest Hill church building around the same time the students at the preaching school were getting out for the day, putting me home just before dinner. As we ate a quiet meal togehter my wife would start telling me about her day and then I would tell her about mine.
As we’ve gotten older and kids (and kids, and holy cow more kids) have come into our family, that time of the day has chopped into tiny fragments; windows of time in between the circus of our lives. Kids get home from school and then run to their rooms for a moment; that’s our chance to say “how was your day?” Kids finish dinner and then run to their rooms for a moment; that’s our chance to say “so anyway, what were you saying about your day?” Jack and Caleb finally get to bed, Joshua finally gets laid down and it’s 11:30pm and we know we have about two hours before Joshua wakes up and stumbles into our room, having lost the pacifier that is LITERALLY CLIPPED TO HIS SHIRT. That’s when we’ll turn toward each other and one of us will say “you never finished what you were saying about your day….” and then we’ll have to slap the other one to wake them back up to hear about it.
Life’s crazy is all I’m saying.
Whenever your “quiet time” is, it needs to be done and it needs to be done right. If it’s not then you and your spouse will not grow closer together; you will drift more and more apart. So what can you do to ensure the “quiet time for talking” time is productive?
Here’s a thought…
DON’T TAKE YOUR PROBLEMS HOME WITH YOU
If all you do when you get home from work is gripe and complain, and have a negative attitude that you take out on your spouse, then your spouse eventually may decide that talking to you is a bad idea. Eventually, all communication may be stopped, and before you know it, you may not know what she wants in your marriage, and she may not know what you want, either. Everyone has bad days, but that does not give a person the excuse to go home grumpy. Check your attitude at the door, and your marriage will grow because of it.
Here’s another thought…
TAKE YOUR PROBLEMS HOME WITH YOU
Never take your attitude home with you. But your spouse is going to want you to talk about your day. If it was a lousy one, she wants to hear it, so she can try and cheer you up, or help you see things from another perspective. There are very few people, apart from my wife, that I can talk to about a bad day, and go away feeling better. There are very very few people, apart from my wife, that I will open up to and express my feelings (and even then she usually has to pry it out of me). But when I do express them, I feel better. Spouses take a vow “to have AND to hold” each other. When you’re having a bad day, let your spouse hold you! Let your spouse give you the time to get it out. Take your problems home (not your attitude), talk to your spouse about your troubles and together work to solve them. You’ll find your marriage will grow as a result.
Also wives, let your husband eat the leftover cookie dough.