Let me begin by saying: I'm no expert on marriage. I have been married for 7 1/2 years, and while I do have a great and solid relationship, we have had our ups and downs. One thing we do have in spades, however, is a great and mutual desire to make our marriage great...not just survivable. In that pursuit, we have attended seminars, counseling, and skill building events in order to make that a viable reality. Sadly, as I stated in my last post, I don't think that we give enough credence to the need for skills to build a lasting marriage. Additionally, I spend a significant amount of time analyzing the "what went wrong?" question, in response to the marriages I see falling apart around me. So to that end...I want to share a couple of really important things I've learned...this week, it's about needs.
I believe that, as a society, we share a common philosophy that states that marriage takes work. However, our action structure is very different. In other words...we say that we need to spend time putting effort into our marriages...but, our daily life consists of everything but. First and foremost, we have to begin the process of realigning our mentalities...to put the needs of our spouse, as the person we love, ahead of our need for them to fulfill a business partner role, on the logistic front. In other words...begin and end the day with "how is my spouse doing?", instead of "what is my spouse doing or not doing as a parent, financial contributor, laborer...?".
It Starts at the Heart
I care about my husband's heart...and he cares about mine. That is our first priority. It is, after all, what we pledged to do...to be the one person on the planet, who cares most about the other. Certainly, we have to wear the different hats, in order to make our lives run smoothly...but, when you don't center those efforts around the foundation of fulfilling each other's needs...then at some point, it's no longer enough. It becomes platonic. You realize that you could have this relationship with just about anyone...there's nothing special left. It's simple and hard...all at the same time. So, it's time for people to understand what those needs are.
I want to build my husband up. I want to elevate his reputation, his confidence, his heart, and his viewpoint. It is the number one need of a husband...honor. Men need to be honored. You know that old saying..."behind every successful man, is a very good woman"? Well, there's a reason that it's a saying. I once heard a sentence at a wedding that will stay with me for the rest of my life. A pastor said to the bride..."Right, wrong, or indifferent...a man will always live up to...or down to...what his wife believes of him." Another half-joke I like to say, is "yes...he's the head of the home, but, I'm the neck, and I show the head where to turn." That is not to say that I play games with my husband, but it is very indicative of the fact that how I treat him, often times determines how he walks through the world...how he makes decisions. For 10 years, Brandon and I had a certain issue. It drove me insane...and, no matter how many ways I put it, no matter how many conversations we had about it...it never changed. I felt like I was blue in the face every single day of my life. A little over a year ago, I decided to change the way I handled it. I decided to just start treating him as though he were meeting that need in me, beautifully...even though he wasn't, yet. In other words...honoring him, even though I didn't feel like it...or that he deserved it. Guess what?...the honor I gave him inspired him to actually rise to the occasion. Once I began believing that he was going to fill the need, instead of dwelling on how he wasn't...he did it. After all these years...my needs, in that area, are met. I knew that I was to be his helpmate, in this life...I just didn't realize that being his helpmate was going to help ME!
Women need to feel secure. We are most successful as people, when we don't have to wonder all the time, if we're going to be OK. If we are spending our time wondering if our husband is faithful, or if we're going to make it financially, or if we are going to be safe...it creates a vacuum in us, where trust, fun, intimacy, happiness, and contentment are. Brandon always tells me that I'm good at keeping us progressing in our marriage. I'm never willing to stay in "survival mode", in order to not rock the boat. We have a pretty great marriage, as a result. However, what he doesn't realize is...he creates the atmosphere for me to be able to move us forward. If I were to constantly be wondering about his activities, constantly worried about whether or not we are going to make it...I wouldn't be at all concerned about building our communication skills, or upping our game in the emotional connection department. Through his honesty, and his commitment, I have the room to push us forward...to up our game. Because I know he is willing to do whatever it takes to support us, I don't worry that he doesn't have a job. I know it's going to be fine. He has created that security for me. This coming from a woman who has no home! I am still...because his character is secure...and that's what I can rely on.
These 2 issues, while central, are just jumping off points. There are many factors that go into each individual marriage...but, I challenge you to try focusing on these 2 specific things, if you are having trouble. Just experiment, and see if it works for you...moves you to a different place. It certainly won't hurt, and you never know...you might begin to see your spouse through a fresh lens. Their heart is worth fighting for...even if you have to fight your own pride.