Marriage is a tough road….everybody knows that. Right? It can be especially trying when the added stress of children comes along, because let’s be real…having children is dang stressful. The worrying, the guilt, the comparison, the business, the expectations, the precious little souls put in your stewardship…gosh, it’s a big job being a parent. So when I think about marriages that crumble under that stress, it makes me so sad considering the factors that led to it. Nobody’s marriage is perfect. Some may appear that way, but they’re not…I assure you. In my particular situation of having a large family, my husband and I try our best to put our relationship first so that when those stresses come knocking, at least we can hope to face them as one.
I believe unity is the major player in almost any issue that may arise in marriage. Unity with finances, raising children, responsibilities, loyalty, etc. When we feel like our unity is being pulled in different directions, whether that manifests itself in the form of arguing, ambivalence, distance, or what have you…we try to stick to a few things that have helped us along the way, that I might be so bold to share today.
1. Tone of Voice: This is a big one between me and my husband, as we often have to remind each other to “watch your tone”…especially in front of the children. This is almost never received well, because if my tone is unpleasant, it sure as heck ain’t helping to be called out on it either…but that’s beside the point. The tone of voice we use and the way we communicate with one another is not only absorbed and internalized by our children, but can also cause harm to your spouse even if you “don’t really mean it like that”. As a rule of thumb, if we are agitated or have something to gripe about in a negative tone of voice, we save it for later…out of earshot of little ones. Or there’s always the option of texting with an obnoxious amount of angry face emoticons. Which I NEVER do. Hardly. Ever.
2. Complete honesty: Now I may have some objections raised at this one, but I firmly believe that true and complete honesty with your spouse is key. This can be accomplished without hurting feelings….most of the time. Having a transparent relationship enables both parties to fully trust each other, which in turn, allows for deeper connection and love in my opinion. I don’t like it when my husband tells me that I have lost my booty, and that I need to do squats and lunges and probably some more squats…but I know it’s coming from a place of love and I try my best to take it for face value. I would never want him to feel like he has to lie to me about that kind of stuff. And if I expect and honor his honesty in that frivolous capacity, it should translate to other areas of communication as well.
3. See the absolute best in your spouse: It is so easy to criticize one’s spouse (see #2), but when those thoughts creep in my mind, I remind myself of all the wonderful traits he embodies and really force myself to forget the not-so-great stuff (Honey, if you’re reading this…there’s really nothing not-so-great about you…it’s all pretty darn great!) But really, can’t you think so much more critically of your spouse right now off the top of your head than you can complimentary? It comes pretty naturally, I suppose. But spouses who place each other on the proverbial pedestal are much less quick to snap a nasty remark over something trivial, which may cause lasting hurt on both ends. Look for the good in eachother and sincerely pay compliments. I also love the quote that sums up how we should approach our marriages…. “True love is not a matter of romance, as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion.” What a wonderful example to set for our children!
It’s funny how this blog post evolved…I didn’t mean to make it a Marriage 101, but rather a little insight into what kinds of behaviors/thoughts I strive for to make my marriage the best it can be, for which cause I’m always wanting to improve and grow. Aren’t we all? It’s a daily struggle. Fighting and contention in the home is probably a lot more prevalent that we can imagine. Children are shaped by their home atmosphere, whether good or bad…and I would absolutely hate to think my impatience, immaturity, or pride was the culprit of issues my kids deal with down the road in life.
What about you?….What are your tips to help alleviate spousal stresses that accompany family life?