About 6 years ago or so, Scott and I went to a bridal shower. It was supposed to be men and women but, as these things usually turn out, there were mostly women at the event. Come to think of it, the groom-to-be wasn’t even there. The hostess’s boyfriend was present, and he and Scott hid in the corner for most of the event. I sat on the couch, wishing I could hide in the corner, too.
Most of the ladies in attendance were single or divorced, which made the “advice” game a bit
idiotic interesting. It wasn’t really a game, per say, but everyone anonymously wrote down a piece of marriage advice on a little card, placed it in a basket, and the bride-to-be read all the advice aloud. I smiled to myself when I wrote down my advice. Scott and I weren’t married yet, and we’d only been dating for about a year, but I’d already learned a lot about the impact of the little things. “Surprise him with a romantic dinner…especially if you’ve been fighting!”
After Scott and I had our first argument, I was horribly upset. I hated the tension it put between us, and I wanted to take an eraser to that fight so we could be happy again. My previous relationships never made it past the first fight, and I just knew this one wouldn’t either. We’d only been together a few months at that point, but I couldn’t bear to lose the happiness we had together. After the fight was settled, the tension still hung in the air between us. I needed to make a gesture, take him on a romantic date–something! But I didn’t have any money to do anything.
So, I invited him over after work. I lit candles. I made Hamburger Helper. Hey, it’s what I had! He was probably dreading coming over to see me after our fight, but when he walked in and saw the candles, the dinner, and me in my fanciest dress, all of the tension was gone. I felt the anxiety melt away as we sat down together, happy again, no longer worried about that stupid fight. It was perfect.
I was confident when I put my advice card in the basket that it was a gem. Let’s just say I was the only one who thought so.
I don’t remember the exact advice on the other cards, but I remember the gist of it. “Tell him to do as you say. You are the boss.” When my advice was read aloud, it was ridiculed. “Who wrote that down?!?!” someone shouted. “Yeah right! Have him cook for you! I’m not cooking for my husband! Especially when we’ve been fighting!” The general consensus was that he’s always wrong, you’re always right, and make sure you get your way. Or else! And make sure he knows you’re not his maid and you’re not his cook!
It’s in our human nature to be selfish, to want to be dominant. When I look around at failed relationships, the most common themes I see are a complete lack of willingness to do anything for the other person, and an unshakable determination to be right and have your own way. How can we say we love someone with all our hearts, forever, but refuse to do anything in the relationship? How can we be so unyielding and so domineering that we put being right and having our way in front of our relationships? Just making a gesture to show your love doesn’t make you a slave, and neither does letting the person you love have their way.
Just ask Scott: I like to have my way and I like being right. We can’t drive to the grocery store without me correcting him on which lane to get into and when to change lanes. Doing laundry is a challenge because clothes have to be folded the right way–aka my way. And I cannot tell you how hard it is to hold back from going into gross detail as to why you have to get into a certain lane at a certain time and why shirts should be folded a certain way.
The last few months, I haven’t been feeling like myself. I’ve been back and forth to the doctor, poked, prodded and scanned, and there’s still more to come. I don’t know if it’s just from anxiety, but my energy level is zero. I feel exhausted constantly, and I’ve fallen behind on the housework. Without complaining or waiting to be asked, Scott started doing the laundry. He’s even made an effort to fold things the way I like them to be folded. He hasn’t mastered it by any means, but he’s put forth a real effort. It’s the little things, after all, that make you feel loved and protected.
I recently started following Hallie Lord, aka Moxie Wife on Facebook, and she’s been doing a marriage challenge with a different task for each day. Here are a few samples:
Happy Sunday, pretty ladies! I just love today’s marriage challenge! Are you ready for it? Simply “leave him a sweet note.” What fun!
Tomorrow’s task is another sweet one, my fellow marriage challenge participants! “Kiss your husband the first time you see him in the morning.” Well, that shouldn’t be too hard. 😉
Sounds easy, you say? Brace yourself for the toughie:
Oh, girls. We should probably start praying for one another right now. Tomorrow’s marriage challenge? “Go a whole day without correcting your husband.” Good luck! 😉
Now, I just started following, so I haven’t been doing the challenge….yet. When I saw that last one, I knew immediately that I needed to follow along, even if I’m a few weeks behind. Somewhere along the line, I turned into the stereotypical nagging wife and left the eager to please, young girlfriend behind in the dust. In a way, our relationship has matured. I’m far more willing to stand up to Scott than I was back then, and if something he does bothers me, I need to let him know–to a point! But while I’m just as likely to admit fault when I do something to hurt him, I’m less likely to make a romantic gesture in an attempt to erase the hurt. At some point, I allowed my want to control things get in the way of making his happiness my priority. Is our marriage failing? Absolutely not. But I do everything I can to make sure Scott knows at every turn that he is loved and the he is my top priority? No, I’m afraid not.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behoveth in the Lord. –Colossians 3:18
Probably the most hated verse in the Bible. However, you have to keep in mind:
Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them. –Colossians 3:19
It’s about serving and loving each other to build each other up, not trying to beat each other into shape. It’s easy to forget that in our me-me-me culture. But we’re supposed to be separate from the culture. I’m not talking about any radical changes, just making an effort to do a little something for him every day, to put his needs before mine. I think it’s time for a 30 day challenge; to make myself a little sweeter, and maybe rediscover the woman who cared more about being in love than being right.