During the early years of our marriage, my husband and I had to learn to work with each other. We also had to learn how to communicate. It wasn’t always easy. I mentioned in my last post that since divorce was not an option we could either learn to live together for life as two miserable individuals or we could work hard to learn how to have a happy marriage.
Today I’m going to share a few steps my husband and I took to build a happy marriage.
1. Don’t give up!
First, we did not give up. This is very important. We may have had moments where we felt like giving up.
“He won’t listen to me!”
“She isn’t paying attention!”
“What is so hard about putting away a simple dish?”
“Why won’t he take out the trash?”
These were all questions we internalized. It would have been pretty easy to keep all those problems internal and not even try to communicate. Neither of us like conflict. If we kept our feelings pent up inside then we wouldn’t have to risk making the other person angry.
But by giving up, are we the only ones truly affected? Will the feelings that I think is being kept on the inside really not affect my relationship with my husband? When I have a problem, I can’t give up and hope it just goes away. I have to be proactive and work with my husband not distance myself from him.
2. Read books on marriage.
This is one thing that my husband and I did a lot of. We really liked self-help books and would read and read. There were some books that I remember really benefiting from. Then there were others that left me crying and feeling hopeless. My husband looked at the ones that made me feel bad and he said not to listen to those. You have to consider the source. Some people are writing from a selfish world view. Even if they are popular books that does not mean they are good.
Some books that helped me were
- Wife After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George
AttractAttack by Jack and Carole Mayhall
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley
- The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly Lahaye
Those are just a few of the books that impacted my life. I may think of more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.
From these books I learned that it is a good thing to do whatever you can to show your spouse that you love them. Don’t be selfish with your love. Learn their primary love language and find ways to show them you love them not just in your own preferred way but how the way they like to be shown love.
For instance if your spouse loves to be given gifts and your preferred method to show love is quality time. Then find someway to put the two together. Perhaps you can save up your money and invest it in quality time shopping together for something you specifically need or want. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift to show you care.
3. Show you care about your spouse’s hobbies.
Do things together. Does your spouse like music. Find an instrument you can enjoy playing along on. Art? Find ways to be creative together. Writing? Find ways to help. Exercise? Put aside your pride and sweat a little.
I had problems with this early in our marriage. I worried over everything. Is taking karate classes with my husband very lady like? There weren’t very many other women in the class. Most just sat on the sidelines. I don’t want to get hurt. I’ll just watch. But just watching and actually taking part are two totally different things. I’ll talk more on this in a future post.
I also had a problem with learning the guitar. My husband was teaching me how to play the guitar. He was impressed with how fast I learned and how well I remembered chords. I was afraid what if I got better than him at guitar? I didn’t want him to feel bad if I was getting that good at it. So I quit trying. I backed off. Then I read, I believe it was in the Opposite’s Attack book, that my husband actually wants me to take part in his activities. He isn’t jealous if I get better at it than him. In fact, he finds it something worth bragging about.
That little piece of truth had me crying. I told my husband what I read and he said that it was true. He likes it when I take part in what he is doing and isn’t jealous of my learning something faster than him. He is just thrilled that I am willing to join him in the fun.
Now I play chess, take karate class, play various instruments, draw, and write. Any activity that my husband is interested in, I now take an active part. I play games with him. I go outside my comfort zone and take short term mission trips with him. Even shy little ol’ me took a picture with an elephant giving my hair some extra conditioning. (At least I’m not describing what I got in my hair in the above picture. My expression should tell it all.)
Right now our biggest project together is my writing. He has been painting some really beautiful pictures to illustrate anything I write. We’re partners and best friends.
Did you find resources that helped you get through the hard times? Do you have a hobby that you enjoy with your spouse? Please share with us in the comments.
This was Day 16 of 31 Days Building Commitment.
Tomorrow, I am honored to share with you a guest post by a childhood friend of mine, Jill Luna. Jill will be telling us how she found love and commitment even after experiencing failed marriages.Like