1. Forget Expectations-
I’ll never forget a couple months after we were married, Jeff was working at UPS in the morning and school was out for the Summer. He would wake up at 3am and then come home and go to bed because he was so tired. Well, the good wife that I was, I made a long list of things he could do while I was at work. I’ll never forget my reaction when I came home and found that nothing had been done on my list. That is the moment I realized Jeff isn’t a list person like I am. We are different and it actually works better that way. Now, six years later I have found that Jeff helps out and does more chores than any list I could write up for him, because he wants to help. We’ve come to drop our expectations of household chores for each other. When we see a need, we take care of it. I have a friend that couldn’t believe that I take out the trash sometimes, I told her “well I am the one that wants it taken out, so I do it.” Jeff never expects me to do dishes or laundry. Just like I don’t have the garbage pile up and wait until he takes it out. We share responsibilities by getting things done when there is a need instead of waiting for the other to come around and do it. It works out perfectly for us.
2. Don’t ask friends for marriage advice, go to your husband.
I can’t tell you how many times I am around people who complain about their spouse. And it makes me sad. If you’re not happy with something, talk to your spouse about it, not others. I learned this the hard way. In the beginning of our marriage I thought “husband bashing” was just a pastime amongst girlfriends. Now, I hold my complaints and disagreements until I can talk about it with Jeff, and him only. It’s so much better this way! Girlfriends always seemed to fuel my fire and get me more upset than I was in the first place. I would go home angry and ready to start an argument because I was right gosh dang-it and all my friends agreed with me too! Keeping your marriage between the two of you brings more happiness and better communication.
3. Don’t depend on your spouse for happiness.
Say what?! Yeah, that’s right. Jeff makes me happier than I have ever been, but I don’t wake up in the morning wondering what Jeff will do to make me happy that day. At the beginning of our marriage, when Jeff had a bad day, I would get grumpy too. Now, looking back that makes no sense. Instead of helping him feel loved and uplifting him, I would just be mad right along with him. Now, I wake up wondering what I can do to make Jeff happy that day, whatever the day may bring. Jeff frequently tells me, “when you’re happy, I’m happy.” When we look for ways to bring happiness to others we don’t have far to go to feel happy ourselves.
4. Let the little things go.
Honestly, I’ve always thought our marriage has been pretty good. It wasn’t until we lost our little Boston that our marriage changed dramatically. We wouldn’t wish the loss of a child on our worst enemy, but it has brought us closer together than ever before. Our eternal perspective has been strengthened and we realize that after such a tragedy, that the big problems are really the little things. There is more to life than having the toilet seat left up or the bathroom messy with makeup! Petty arguments seem extra silly when you have an eternal perspective. Maybe that is what has helped us drop our expectations for each other. We both have the same goal- to be happy and stay together forever. Boston has taught us to look at the big picture and we can’t wait to give that boy a hug!
5. Give Service to others (and each other).
Jeff and I were just talking about this a couple nights ago. I have honestly never met a person that is more service oriented than Jeff. Are you moving? Jeff will help you. Do you need a ride to church? Jeff will pick you up. Are you hungry? Jeff will bring you food for a week. Stranded at the airport? He will be there in a half hour. I have learned from him to put others before myself. While we were talking the other night, I asked him what blessings we have received from giving so much service to others (maybe because I was looking at a service opportunity in a negative way!), and without hesitation he answered, “we’ve got a great marriage!” I had never thought about it like that. When we truly forget ourselves and go to work, our relationships can benefit too. It gives us time away from home to be involved with people who need us and it helps us to feel grateful for what we have to offer and what we have been blessed with.
6. Make your spouse's interests important to you.