Have you ever thought about what makes your marriage work when it’s working good? Like really good. Those times when everything is clicking and you and your partner are truly happy and in sync. I already know that love is the main thing that makes it work, but I’m talking about on a smaller level. Recently, I’ve been wondering what changes on the days when everything just gets on my nerves, or everything just gets on his nerves. Thankfully, those days are usually few and far between, but who wants to ever have those days, amiright? One of the things that hit me was that I actually change. My personal attitude shifts, and it shifts a lot because, hey, I’m human.
Recently, I’ve tried to be more aware of those shifts and see what the constant was on the good days and the best days. I realized that there were several constants, and that really these should be my personal rules to a happy marriage because I’ve proven to myself that they work. Consider these “rules” marriage advice from someone who doesn’t claim to know much about marriage, but does have a happy one and hopes you do too. The first piece of marriage advice that I want to share is to try and have a servant’s heart.
What is a servant’s heart?
Growing up in the South, I’ve heard this expression most of my life, but I never really thought much about what it means. Having a servant’s heart is when you put another person’s needs and wants over your own. It requires a humble heart and a giving spirit. You, simply, aim to serve another person. By no means am I talking about degrading yourself or allowing someone else to do that. Rather, consider the strength of character and kindness it takes to focus less on your pleasure and comfort and more so on another’s.
How does this apply to my marriage?
I’m sure this answer is obvious. When we bind our lives to another’s, we have a responsibility to preserve and care for that person’s happiness. Sometimes that’s really easy. Sometimes, it take a little more concentrated effort. Let’s talk about practical ways to try out this marriage advice/servant heart thing.
1. Take care of your responsibilities with no whining.
This one gets SO HARD for me. I work a full time job as a teacher, and sometimes the dishes are just too dang much after dealing with the perils of the classroom all day. I can spend a good fifteen minutes whining to my husband about dishes and the laundry and the yada yada yada. Then, since I’ve been whining so much about the dishes and such, I secretly hope that my husband will take it upon himself to do them for me. And sometimes he does, but when he doesn’t… flames of fury. All of a sudden I’m even more mad about the dishes than I was before. Twisted, right?
If I would choose to just do the stupid dishes without complaining I probably would have a more pleasant evening. And I also wouldn’t be stewing for no reason. Better yet, what if I chose to do those dishes with a good attitude? Does that sentence make anyone else laugh? Seriously though, what would it take to just focus on how doing that one task happily will positively affect your relationship. When we don’t work with favors or expectations of praise in mind, we don’t get disappointed when they don’t happen. Try instead to focus on how what you’re doing is making life a little more pleasant for the person you love most.
2. Do some unsolicited favors.
I’ve found that this one goes a long way in my personal happiness as much as my husband’s. When I do something for him that he didn’t ask me to, I actually feel good about myself. I have a sense of satisfaction that’s like, hey, I’m actually pretty good at this wife thing. What’s something that your husband hates doing? Taking out the trash? Dropping off dry cleaning? Maybe you could find time to do one of those things for him as a small surprise. I’ve never done a favor like that for my husband and NOT received a sweet text or call or even a favor in return.
3. Try to think a few steps ahead.
If you know your husband has something important coming up like a big project at work or a cool opportunity, try to think ahead of ways that you can help. You may not know a thing about the intricacies of what he has going on. No problem. Because you do know that the printer is going to need lots of paper to print those sheets of legal documents or spreadsheets of figures. That’s where you come in! How about making a trip to the store and buying enough paper and ink to keep the stuff spitting out of the printer? Your husband never has to stop, and you just prevented a potential annoyance. Yay, you! He may never think twice about it, but we know you did it. And we are dancing with you.
4. Try to view things with a positive attitude.
I think this is one of the greatest acts of service we can do for our spouses. Actually, even for ourselves. Who wants to come home every day to a negative attitude? No hands? Didn’t think so. When we try to be positive, it creates good energy in our hearts and homes. It’s really hard to do sometimes, but give it your best effort.
We don’t always get the best news or have the best day. Sometimes, we don’t even like hearing about someone else’s bad day. But try to be the positive spin on the things that come up in your household. If your husband has had the worst day, or is just feeling negative like we all do from time to time, show him the positive that he’s overlooking. He may not want to hear it, but I guarantee you it makes an impact. Think about it in the reverse. You getting annoyed by his negativity or adding negativity multiplies the negativity. Writing that word that many times is depressing much less living out that scenario. When you bring the positive outlook, you’ve challenged your husband to change his attitude and served him on the sly. Nice.
Let’s get real…
Are these things possible 24/7? Well gosh, no. I can’t say it enough. We are human, and we are flawed. I’ve probably messed them all up in the last 5 minutes. But, can I try to put at least one of these tips into practice at least some of the time? Of course I can, and so can you because you’re awesome. Try them out or at least think about this perspective and see if it makes a difference.
Comment below and let me know what you think, or if you try it out. Also, share with your friends and start a conversation about what makes your marriages/relationships work when they’re at their best.