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 is the 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?
Joanne Miller has been happily married for over four decades to career coach and author Dan Miller (48 Days To the Work You Love). She has authored four children's books and has a new book for grown ups co-authored with artist Dorsey McHugh called Be Your Finest Art. She and Dan have three grown children and twelve grandchildren and lots of years living the entrepreneurial roller-coaster life of adventure!