I remember just in to the beginning of our marriage... I was complaining to my mum one day about something that Mike did and her response shocked me. "Well it's a good thing he isn't more perfect than he is sweetheart, or he certainly wouldn't have picked YOU for a wife." (Enter awkward silence here... chirping crickets... tumbleweed...) I'm actually very grateful for such a thought provoking perspective so early in our marriage. We can be so quick to see and point out faults in others, especially our spouses, but we are not so quick to point out or see our own imperfections, huh?
It's so easy to compare our relationship to others and think that we fall short. The grass seems so much greener on the other side sometimes, doesn't it? But it is important to remember that when we compare ourselves or our relationships to others that most of the time we are comparing our absolute lowest points with the very best of someone else's. We don't ever see the worst in other peoples marriages... all we get to see is the perception they want to give, whether it be posts on social media, Sunday faces, or what have you. For the most part people aren't going to share the struggles they have, only the best of times.
I love the quote "Marriage is not 50-50... Marriage has to be 100-100. It isn't dividing everything in half, but giving everything you've got." I have often heard people say that a good marriage shouldn't have to be that much work, but I call BS! If you want a marriage that is wonderful then heck yes it is going to be a lot of work. It takes putting each other first, being each others best friend, doing things the other likes, laughing together, loving together, spending time together, getting to know each other, talking, asking questions, texting, planning surprises, dating each other, working together, helping one another, paying attention to each other, putting away distractions, thanking each other, admitting when you are wrong and shutting up when you are right!
If you are feeling like the grass on your side may need some watering but are stuck on where to start, here are a few things that have helped Mike and I in our marriage... again, I emphasize that our marriage is far from perfect, but we are both consistently trying hard and I believe it makes a big difference for us.
- Be with the one you are with. In other words, PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Don't text or check social media when you are on a date, eating, watching a movie together or even just walking through a store. Give all your attention to your spouse when you are with them. Anytime your spouse communicates with you, look them in the eye... let them know they have your full undivided attention and they are the most important person to you. And don't use the time after the kids go down to bed to run errands or text or visit with friends. This is precious time just the two of you! Make good use of it!!!
- Get to know each other. Something fun that we have recently discovered is to take a drive, or lay in bed or go somewhere scenic and ask each other random, sometimes crazy questions. There are TONS of sites that have questions you can pull from, so you don't even have to come up with them yourself! Here is a list of 100 to start... http://ephesianswife.blogspot.com/2013/12/friday-date-idea-car-interview.html. Google or Pinterest are your best friends for ideas like this.
- Date each other. Don't have money? Who cares! Be creative. Check out this list of 121 things to do instead of spending money... http://www.savvysugar.com/Things-Do-Instead-Spending-Money-34350539 or this list of 50 fun or cheap date ideas... http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/01/50-fun-and-cheap-date-ideas.html
- When you are feeling frustrated or upset, make a list of the things you LOVE about your spouse. It's hard to stay mad when you are remembering all their good qualities. Also, if you are having an argument, (what? who argues??? ;)), then try to start each sentence that comes out of your mouth with "I feel..." instead of "YOU...". It's amazing what a difference this little tweak makes as it changes the argument to be less about blaming and more about feelings.
- Quit keeping score... It doesn't matter who does the most housework or who brings in the most money or who watched the kids last night. Serve each other selflessly and without expecting anything in return... because you love one another. Stop looking at what you get and concentrate on what you give.