So, you’ve reached the point where most of your friends are married with kids. Perhaps some have gotten divorced or are thinking about divorce. Maybe you are starting to question your own marriage and whether it is “normal.” Do you even still love the person you’ve committed your life to? Maybe you feel he doesn’t understand you. Maybe he doesn’t. Was it all one big mistake? Is there something or someone better out there?
First of all, before you head down the rabbit hole of comparing your marriage to others you see – know this…marriage is hard for everyone. Yes, even that friend you swear has found the perfect mate. No one is perfect. In this day and age it’s easier than ever to buy into the false notion that the grass is greener on the other side. But would you want your spouse to think the same about you? The real key to a successful marriage is when both partners are able to acknowledge their own role in what is causing dissatisfaction. As women we are often guilty of simply not speaking up about what we really want in a marriage. Below are some helpful tips for turning things around.
Don’t Play Games
Listen ladies – the games have got to go. Men are not mind readers, and nor should they have to be. If you want him to buy you a present on special occasions then stop telling him that you don’t want to exchange presents this year. If something is bothering you, stop telling him that you are “fine.” In general, men are pretty literal creatures. By nature they will pay more attention to the words you are say than the body language you are using as a means of communication. Stop sending conflicting messages and instead…
Ask for What You Want
If you want something, ask for it. First you must identify the problem. What is really causing you discontentment in your marriage? For me, my biggest sore spot is that I often don’t feel appreciated. My husband is not a cook, therefore the lion’s share of the cooking falls to me. This also includes meal-planning and grocery shopping on my own. So at times when my hubby makes a not so flattering comment about my cooking, I want to throttle him. Over time though, I have learned to speak up about it. I have simply asked for him to keep his opinions to himself when he doesn’t like a meal. So now instead of commenting, he’ll simply try a few bites, excuse himself and make himself something else instead. This was simple tweak– but it’s working for us.
Be Direct. Be Specific.
Once you determine what it is you need, it’s important not to beat around the bush. Don’t approach this by dropping hints and hope that somehow he’s magically going to start picking up on what you’re putting down. If you have a problem, it is equally your responsibility to come up with a solution. The worst thing you can do for a marriage is to stop being solution-oriented. Don’t make general statements like, “I feel you don’t love me.” What would make you feel more loved? Quality time? Helping out around the house? Telling you more often? Have a specific solution at the ready and ask for it directly.
My husband and I are both busy people. Sometimes it bothers me that we don’t spend a lot of quality time together as a married couple and so I asked for us to talk through a solution. Because we both love to try out new restaurants, my husband made a list of places to try and we’ve scheduled in a date night every week over the next few months. In addition we plan to watch one show together at 8pm each night whenever possible. These small little tweaks mean that we are spending more time together doing something we both enjoy. Win-Win!
Make a List if You Have To
I have made many little lists for my husband over the years. Many times I keep a running list throughout the year of stocking stuffer ideas for Christmas, and other gift ideas. Sometimes I make lists of compliments I would like to receive. I (jokingly) call it a reference guide. One time, after a particularly long argument, I actually wrote out a list of steps to take when we find ourselves in a similar situation in the future. I called it “A Husband’s Guide to Making Up With Your Wife.” I included things like: 1. Ask if she’s ready to talk. 2. Acknowledge her feelings. 3. Apologize (if necessary) 4. Don’t make it about you. Now this was a bit tongue-in-cheek but it broke the ice and gave us a little laugh. And honestly he has used it as a little reminder to himself when things are tense.
This concept is foreign to most of us, as we are taught to believe that “he should just know” what we want. After all – where is the spontaneity? Perhaps you feel that if he doesn’t come up with it on his own that it’s somehow less genuine?
In an ideal world our partners would anticipate our needs and aptly respond, however realistically life just doesn’t work like that. Expecting that it does will only breed resentment and disappointment. What you’ll find is that even though you had to ask initially, over time it becomes a habit and happens more naturally. So if you want your marriage to work, start asking for what you need. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
What kind of marriage do you want? What do you need to ask your spouse for today? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts?