Our marriage is far from perfect. In fact, I’m certain there is no such thing as the perfect marriage. Yet we’ve managed to survive pretty well, if not actually flourish, most of the last almost ten years despite having some pretty rough times.
I mentioned earlier in the series that communication is one of those to-go classic pieces of marriage advice at hen parties. Things like “Make sure you keep communicating” and “Don’t go to bed on an argument”. Good tips (though sometimes I do just head off to bed without resolving something. I’m not great with conflict) but here are some things that I’ve found useful, which I’m hoping may be useful for others too…!
Men are direct communicators, women are often not
You hear women say things like “I asked him to lift X out of the dishwasher to dry and he didn’t bother emptying the rest of it”. But in fairness to the guy, they did the task they were asked! I genuinely don’t think they see all the things we see to be done. Not excusing them all, but I think we need to be more explicit when we talk to our men.
It seems like the politer way to ask “Could you empty the dishwasher and hoover the floor?” is a comment like “The floor really could do with a hoover and the dishwasher will be finished soon” but they probably just hear a comment about how clean the floor is.
Having said that, my personal go-to phrase if Colin is sitting on the same sofa as me is, “Can I put my feet up?” which is my indirect way of saying, “Could you rub my feet please?”…he does know that one though!
Accept you’re both flawed people
No-one is perfect and the sooner you realise that and lower your expectations, the better! I know I’m never going to be the perfect housewifey stay at home mum, I have attention problems (annoying if you’re watching TV with me, or I’m running a bath….) and I can’t remember how to log on to our internet banking. But Colin has accepted me even with these flaws so I try not to beat myself up about them (or constantly apologise about something I’ve not done) and at the same time, not beat him up about his weaknesses.
Pray for each other
We both pray for each other, specifically and regularly. Colin tends to pray on the bus to work. I pray in the shower. I write down my prayers for Colin occasionally but when I reread them I think that I maybe only put pen to paper when I’m particularly annoyed with him. The most ranty prayers seem to end up on paper. “God, I pray for Colin because of X, Y and Z. Help him realise A, B and C.”
Things are best when I pray first for his wife, then for him. Know what I mean?!
Don’t bad mouth them to others
I try not to voice my frustrations about Colin to other people. I think that once something has been said out loud it then becomes very acceptable to complain about regularly and you actually get more frustrated by them. By trying to stay quiet about issues that have arisen I feel like I am valuing him and being considerate of him. I certainly wouldn’t want Colin mouthing off to others about my weaknesses. It is also unhelpful to talk to others about issues and not seek to talk to him first.
Respect each other
This kind of goes on from the not bad mouthing each other, but I get the impression when I hear others talking about their other halves they don’t really respect each other. It works both ways too. Colin supports all my (often varied) dreams and encourages me and builds me up. I tell the boys as much as I can how great he is in providing for us as a family, as a husband and a dad. They know we think each other is great and that’s providing them with great role models of what to be as husbands themselves and what to look for in wives.
Have fun together
Honestly, the reason we’ve got through the tough times so easily is probably the fun we have. Colin has had many a hospital stay over the years and I would go up (pre kids) every evening for evening visiting and sit up on the bed watching comedy shows, or bring a game in. I always think a couple with an arsenal of in-jokes is a good sign that they spend quality time together and have plenty of fun. Being able to laugh through some of the tougher times is a good thing. One of our in-jokes (less in now I’m sharing with you all!) is the Palin Poo, a joke you can only understand if you have a husband with a chronic bowel condition, and enjoy politics.
There’s plenty of areas I have zero good advice on, like how to resolve conflict (not my strong point) or what to do if he’s a total knob, but hopefully maybe one of these points will helps someone! Now, I'm off to put my feet up...!