I enjoyed my work when I was there. I loved what I did. But the hours were voluminous and unpredictable. I was called into the office during birthdays, worked 46 hours from vacation, and had to cancel (or refused to commit to) countless dinners and day trips.
My job came first.
And while we all go through seasons of life where work takes up more time or energy than other parts of your life, I was about to start my tenth year of that.
That’s a long season.
So when it was time for me to make a change not just any job would do.
I’m super excited to welcome Joanne Miller back to the blog today. Today’s post is a great reminder of what matters over the long term of a relationship and an incredible opportunity to see the long-term effect of doing seemingly “small” thing right and the value of being present, observant, and grateful for all the things your spouse is and does.
Somewhere along the way we have lost our sense of propriety. We have forgotten the importance of thank you, I’m sorry and excuse me. After a while we get so used to not being polite that it snowballs into a total disregard for common courtesy.
Over 40 years ago my sweetheart and I vowed to love and to cherish; not to demand or dominate but to treat each other as we want to be treated.Pretty simple really.Unfortunately, these principles are often violated in the home where we become lax and lazy.I have actually heard people say they don’t need to be polite at home, they just want the freedom to be themselves and not put on any pretenses.Seriously?If I understand this correctly, this is the message:“I can be an inconsiderate jerk at home, so get used to it!”And the irony is that those very same people often demand their children say please and thank you and treat others, NOT as they see in their own home but as they are TOLD to do or risk dire consequences.
In our home, please, thank you, excuse me, and I’m sorry are an ongoing part of our everyday conversations.Dan has never said to me, “Get me a drink while you are in there!” Wouldn’t happen.In fact, not only would he be more polite about it by saying the requisite “please”, we would not even have this conversation because he would get up and go to the kitchen to get his own drink and ask me as he was on his way if I would like something too.That’s just the way it works in our home.Always has.No exceptions.Life isn’t just about what’s in it for me.In our home we work together to be kind, considerate and behave as mannerly as we would in public.
We used to have a refrigerator magnet that boldly stated: PRACTICE BEING KIND INSTEAD OF RIGHT! [tweet this]
Here are some ways you can be kind and mannerly that will add significant deposits into your relational bank account:
When you and your spouse go out to eat or to a movie, thank the one who suggested or paid for that experience when you arrive back home.Dan drives and pays.Before we were married we would have considered that “a date”.Over four decades later I still consider it a date. If he isthe chauffeur and paying the tab, I should be considerate enough to thank him.By thanking him, he knows I don’t just take him for granted and I truly appreciate his efforts.
When I take the time to fix a meal, Dan has always thanked me for it. Even though he doesn’t know a spatula from a meat cleaver and doesn’t cook,he knows that planning and preparing a meal is tedious and time consuming.He tells me he appreciates my efforts.A simple little thank you makes me happy to do that chore over and over again. He helps clean up and put things away and that is a great thank you to me.
Simple courtesies that every couple should know don’t stop after the marriage vows are read.Dan still opens my car door.He still opens the door for me to go in first.He still carries the heaviest load.He still offers me the seat if there is only one.I met him in the 1960’s.Women’s Lib was in it’s heyday!Unfortunately some women felt it was belittling to them to have a man be a gentleman and continue these “old fashioned” behaviors.Get real.I love being treated like a lady and I expect my man to act like a gentleman.It doesn’t mean I am less of a person.It means I have a happy relationship!
Dan spoils me, I know.Once he was following me in a separate car and I needed to stop for gas.I pulled into the service station and stopped at the pump and just sat there.My passenger seemed surprised I didn’t get out.I had seen Dan follow me, get out of his car and go directly to the pump to put in my gas.He knows I hate to pump gas and I especially hate to pay for it.So he just does it for me.It’s his way of showing he cares just as it is for me to wash and fold his laundry each week.
But I spoil him too.I have, for all these years fixed Dan a cup of tea in the morning and anytime he wants one.I know just how he likes his tea and he loves that I make it for him.I like to think that with a spoonful of sugar I add a dollop of love.I am quite sure he could make his own tea. This is just a ritual of love that makes our marriage hum.
My long-time sweetheart and I have one main goal in our relationship……to serve one another with respect, integrity and lots of love.
What can you do today that would astound your spouse with your love and mannerly respect?
Today’s post comes from Paulie Godbout who has submitted multiple articles to help us broaden our perspective by sharing experiences from more folks who want to help you improve your marriage. Be on the lookout for more from Paulie here at Confessions of a Terrible Husband.
If you’ve ever tried to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture, I’m sure you can relate with the feelings of frustration Paulie shares… I’m still convinced that IKEA furniture should come with a coupon for a free therapy session…
When my wife and I got married my grandmother gave us $1000. We decided to use her generous gift to buy a bed frame and mattress. As two people who cherish their personal space we immediately agreed that a king-size bed set was our only option.
Neither of us had shopped for a bed and mattress bigger than a twin, so it was quite a shock to discover you can’t even get a decent king-size mattress for $1000. Naturally, we did what anyone on a budget does when they need cheap furniture: we went to IKEA.
After a lot of searching and a little compromise we found a bed and mattress for just under $1000. We were proud of ourselves for sticking to our budget and for reaching a compromise in a civil, timely manner.
The experience gave me hope for our new marriage.
But, then we got home.
We unloaded everything, opened all the boxes, organized the materials and opened the instructions. My wife read the instructions aloud while I pieced things together accordingly. We made it about 10 minutes before I couldn’t figure out how to “insert something into something.” So my wife tried to help.
Only, I didn’t ask for her help.
She saw me struggling, so she stepped in to try to show me how it was done. “I’ve got it,” I said, pulling the two unassembled pieces away from her. I stubbornly tried to make it work on my own, and after a few tries, I got it. “What’s next?” I asked.
A few minutes later we found ourselves doing the same song and dance. “Please, just read the directions again,” I said, obviously perturbed. This happened a few more times before I suggested we switch for a while, me reading the instructions and her piecing things together.
It didn’t help. We switched jobs, but it resulted in the same conflict.
Finally, we finished putting the stupid bed together. There was no lighthearted suggestion of “breaking it in” or any other euphemism. Together, we sighed, relaxed our shoulders and exchanged a silent nod, as if to say we made it through alive, before heading to the couch.
The experience made me question the hope I had for our new marriage.
The tension lingered throughout the night. We crawled into bed, our new bed, the bed that I figured a mediator might one day pinpoint as the beginning of the end for us, and just stared at one another.
“We can’t do this,” I said. My wife’s quizzical eyes finally met mine. “We can’t be at each other’s throats every time we have to work together to figure out some new thing. For a long time, everything is going to be new for us.” She nodded. “So what do we do?” I asked.
Honestly, I don’t remember what all was said that night. I can tell you we talked through our frustrations and made peace before falling asleep. I can tell you similar situations have arisen since the bed incident. I can tell you we’re still happily married almost four years later.
And I can tell you why.
Because now, every time we assemble something, fix something, or install something together we grin at each other and say, “Alright. We’re not getting divorced over this.” Now, when we – two former alpha dogs – tackle a project, we tackle it as a team. Now, we look at every opportunity to figure out how to do something new, no matter how menial, as a chance to get better at working together.
I was terrible at this part of being a husband in the early days of our marriage. I still have a lot to work on, but I’ve gotten pretty good at doing projects with my wife.
And now, we love walking through IKEA.
Every trip offers a store full of reminders – symbols of hope – that we have what it takes to conquer whatever new experience we’ll encounter in our marriage.
About the Author
Paulie Godbout is a husband, father, writer and blogger. If you’ve enjoyed his thoughts on marriage you’ll love his take on fatherhood. Check out his blog Letters to Lewis, where twice a week Paulie shares letters he’s written to his toddler son about life, parenthood and faith.
“Falling” is passive, often unintentional. It’s something that just “happens.” Love, on the other hand, is developed over time. Even if you start out with strong emotions – the feeling of “love at first sight” – true love grows over time.
Love is a “complex art” that combines many factors, skills, and talents that is learned only over an entire lifetime. Love is not something that simply comes to be. It is something that is actively created, intentionally built.
So while we can quickly and unintentionally become curious, attracted, to, or even preoccupied by someone at first sight, simply “falling” in love, then, is impossible.
According to Mr. Keen:
We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
Let that sink in for a minute.
That’s personal accountability at its finest. It flips the concept of love from something that comes to me (a perfect person) to something inside of me (how I see my imperfect wife).*
If I want to develop deeper love I need to strip away all the drama and emotions of marrying my love to my definition of a perfect person and start building a closer bond with my wife based on truly accepting her as imperfect.
But isn’t that “settling”?
No. That’s not settling. That’s loving her for who she is, rather than some mythical superwoman who has no faults.
That’s real love.
But don’t I want to encourage my wife to grow, try new things, or tap into something “more”?
Sure. But what does that have to do with love?
I’m not suggesting that she shouldn’t continue to develop as a person. I’m just saying that my love shouldn’t be tied to it. At all.
So have I tied my love to her being perfect?
When you’re as imperfect as me, the last thing you do is expect others to be perfect… so, no, my “love” has not been tied to my wife becoming perfect. If anything I wondered more about why she loved me, rather than what more she could do or be….
But reading Mr. Keen’s quote certainly got me thinking that a lot of our frustrations stem from the disconnect between expectations and reality.
Even as simple as expecting her to act or react to something in a certain way has made me incredibly frustrated when she reacted in a different way.
And that frustration certainly doesn’t add any loving feelings…
Embracing her as an imperfect woman and being more sympathetic to that backdrop has really helped me connect with her during those frustrating times and in forming a stronger marriage, even if it wasn’t one of our greatest struggles.
Am I asking you to lower your standards?
Nope. But if you believe that love is an event that you can “fall into,” I am asking you to consider whether that viewpoint is short-changing you and your (current or future) spouse.
Because true love cannot be found by looking for (or lamenting that you didn’t find) the perfect person.
It is built upon appreciating the imperfect qualities that make your spouse who they are and embracing those imperfections.
So I am I’m asking you to be very intentional in disconnecting your love from qualities that your spouse doesn’t have. From who she isn’t.
And actively love her for exactly who she is.
*Yes, I called my wife imperfect. I did that very intentionally. She is imperfect. We all are. But that’s OK. Not expecting her to be perfect is the whole point…