I’ve been thinking lately about turning to your spouse instead of turning away from your spouse. What I mean by this is when your spouse makes a bid for attention, or affection, or assistance, you return the bid with love and understanding, instead or prioritizing yourself and your interests.
I posit that there have to be people that just do not understand why they got married or why they are still wed. Which is totally fine, if you want to be somewhat miserable, or very miserable, or unbelievably miserable.
Like, for example, my parents.
My mom and dad were married for twentysomeodd years. Mom and dad were in love with each other, I have absolutely no doubt. They each thought the other was a great, wonderful person. But they got divorced. Makes no sense, I know.
The reason they got divorced is because they had no communication skills at all. AT ALL. For example, my dad bought a house. My family lived in that house for almost twenty years. My mom hated that house. FOR. TWENTY. YEARS.
She never told him how she felt. He never told her why he bought it. Until after they had been divorced for more than five years.
My mom hated the house because it was too small. She wanted a bigger house, especially after she had another child. There were only two bedrooms for six people. She thought he would recognize her frustration without discussing it with him.
My dad bought her that house- that TOO SMALL house- because it was two doors away from her best friend with whom she had a business making cakes. He thought she would be happy to be so close, but he just assumed she’d recognize the gesture without discussing it with her.
He didn’t like the house either.
THIS is the environment I was raised in. That level of miscommunication was the average. NOBODY talked to ANYBODY in that house unless they were upset or angry, and then it was with raised voices. It is no wonder that we have struggled greatly with relationships.
With all of that in mind, I’d now like to address the topic of the week, that of turning toward your spouse. This is an area that I struggle with to no extent at all.
What? Not at all? How could that be, with your history, you may ask. Or you may not, which is fine too. I will answer regardless.
When Tessi approaches me with a request, or with a suggestion, or with a question, I try to stop what I am doing, both physically and mentally, and turn toward her- with all possible meanings of the phrase intended. I look at her and listen to her, even if it is a hard conversation. Even if I have other things I want to be doing.
Why do I do this? Why do I prioritize her needs and wishes over my own?
Because I WANT TO BE MARRIED TO MY WIFE. I want that more than I can even tell. I love having someone in my corner who is always there for me. I adore having someone who I can spend time with and can travel with and can love with and can cook with and can do dishes with and and and
It is awesome!
I stumbled across a secret long ago that has shaped the way I interact with my wife. Would you like to hear it? Here goes-
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
What? You- you have heard it before? Really? It’s common knowledge? HMMM…
Then why is the divorce rate so high? Why are people, married or not, miserable?
Here’s how I practice it. Whenever my wife and I are awake and in the same space together, I think- “what do I want right now?” And then I answer myself the same way every time- “I want Tessi to be happy. I want her to be the happiest person on earth right now. I want her to never forget how happy she is in this moment.”
And then I do whatever I think it will take for that to happen.
I don’t always get it right. I am very selfish sometimes. I am cranky even more times. But always, there is in the back of my mind, the thought that I married the most amazing woman who is strong, brave, beautiful, and wise, and despite all that STILL married me.
So turning to my wife in difficult times, or in easy times, or in any times at all, isn’t even a question. It isn’t a challenge, or a hardship, or a burden. I chose this woman and I decided that I wanted to spend every available minute I could with her. I remember that she didn’t have to say yes. She said yes because she thought that being with me forever would be better than being without me.
It isn’t a burden to give her attention. It isn’t an inconvenience to listen to her tell me how difficult work was today. It isn’t a chore to wash dishes with her, or clean the catbox because it’s my turn, or respond with love and patience and understanding when she is upset at something I did wrong, or didn’t do when I said I would, or even when I have to change plans at the last minute.
I love her. I want to be with her. So turning to her is my privilege.
It’s an honor.