I was going to be the perfect wife. Seriously, I was going to rock this marriage thing. It made no sense to me when couples would fight, insult each other, or neglect each other. Sooner or later someone had to do this marriage thing right – and, surely, that was going to be me.
I fancied myself a submissive woman. No need for me to study Ephesians 5… I had it down pat (or so I thought). When married life caught up with me and I discovered that I did not always care for my husband’s excellent leadership, I shared my surprise with my mother: “I thought I was a pretty submissive person.” “Really? I never thought of you as a submissive person.” Ouch. Well, she would know. ~smile~
Reality Sets In
As you probably guessed, I got married, came face to face with the hardships of married life, and failed to become the world’s first perfect wife. (Serious bummer.) However, I have emerged victorious in some ways. Failing miserably has taught me better and worse ways to approach my relationship with Eric. I have come to find out that my tongue is my biggest enemy!
Have you ever been in an argument where you wanted to say something clever and cutting, but you knew you were going to regret it if you did? Happens to me a lot! During those newlywed days, I had a difficult time keeping those mean words inside my mouth. “Yes, it will make the fight worse, but it will feel sooo good for a moment. I cannot wait to put him in his place!” Thankfully, by the grace of God, I am becoming better about holding unconstructive comments back and our relationship is better for it! I think Eric is getting better at it too! Congratulations Honey! ~smile~
Better Left Unsaid
During my years of wedded bliss, I have discovered a lot of phrases that are better left unsaid. The following three are big ones to avoid in marriage!
“You embarrass me!”
Your sweetie will probably embarrass you repeatedly in your fifty or so years together, but don’t hastily and disgustedly declare it. If he tries to start the wave at the symphony, it is probably appropriate to let him know that his behavior is embarrassing you, but if he is telling harmless jokes at a party and you scoff and say, “You embarrass me!”, then that communicates disgust.
Imagine that someone you love looked at you coldly and said, “You are an embarrassment to me.” How would you feel? Foolish? Unloved? Unwanted? Like an imbecile? It would almost be nicer to hear, “Go away. I don’t want you around.” When you grit your teeth and tell your partner that he or she embarrasses you, you may as well say “You are an embarrassment to me.” That may not be how you mean it, but it will be received that way.
We all have different aspirations for our marriages, but one common goal we share is the desire to be liked, appreciated, esteemed, and respected by our spouses.
“You lost [the] <insert item here>!”
The biggest (and, now, most humorous) fight to date between Eric and I took place in the Winnie the Pooh store at Disneyland. My sister-in-law and I thought my four-year-old nephew was being looked after by Eric and his aunt; however, Eric and his aunt were not aware of this assumption. A few minutes later, we heard Eric and Aunt Val chatting and laughing when my sister-in-law discovered her baby boy was nowhere to be found. She ran out of the store in a frenzy to look for him, but I stayed behind long enough to look at Eric and scream in the store, “YOU LOST HIM!”
First of all, Eric had no idea he was supposed to be watching him – and secondly, it is never a good idea to hurl accusations, especially such serious ones, at anyone when you are in a heightened emotional state. Eric screamed something back at me (can’t remember what, exactly) and then we both hurried out of the store. Somewhere in the United States today, there are kids who are terrified of Winnie the Pooh. I’m sorry and accept full responsibility.
Don’t accuse your spouse of losing something, big or small. Simply ask if he or she has seen it. In fact, leave accusations out of your life completely. You can get at the issue a lot better by asking questions instead. “Honey, have you seen my keys?” is so much better than “You lost my keys again, didn’t you?!”
“Whatever you say, Honey”
Do not be fooled. This is not a statement of submission or agreeableness. It is a statement of abdication. Your husband will need your input. Your wife will need your input. To the outside world, “Whatever you want is fine, Sweetie” sounds pleasant and nice, but it can be compared to dropping your end of the sofa and leaving him or her to carry the entire weight of it alone.
Whether your intentions are to be agreeable or to be passive aggressive, this is a phrase you would do well to avoid – forever. If your future spouse asks for your opinion, give him or her one. If you do not have an opinion, try to find one. If you simply cannot form an opinion on the topic, let him or her know that you are neutral. If the issue is important, ask for more time to think about it, but do not drop the entire decision in his or her lap with a flippant, “Whatever you want to do, dear.” If his or her decision turns out to be bad, he or she gets all the blame as well. It’s just not fair.
The Wise Ratio of Having Two Ears and One Mouth
If I were to set my mind to it, I could probably fill a book with words and phrases to abolish from your marital vocabulary just based on my own experience. It is always a good idea for us to think through our words before blurting them out. Many marriages could be saved if the people involved would keep their mouths opened less and their ears opened more.
What are some phrases you plan to avoid in your future marriage?