This week we’re talking about simplifying family life. Tune in all week for strategies and tips for every area of life!
Marriage is anything but simple.
There is one thing you can do to simplify marriage, though — a magic bullet, if you will.
We often think about marriage as a 50/50 split, where we have to meet in the middle and compromise.
But what would happen if we each gave 100% instead? What if we gave up our rights and expectations and focused on serving one another instead?
Think about it. How different were things before you got married, when you were first dating? If you were anything like us, you spent a lot of time trying to please each other. And then you get married and settle into real life, and suddenly making the other person happy isn’t quite as important.
Sometimes, we don’t even treat our spouses with the same common courtesy that we show to strangers on the street.
Giving 100% will look different for every marriage, but here are some ideas to get started:
1. Don’t expect your spouse to live by your standards.
A question I often get asked is what someone should do if their spouse is not on board with decluttering and organizing. My response might surprise you.
Although my husband and I do share chores and responsibilities, I don’t try to hold him to my standards. He’s perfectly content to stuff things in closets and call the house clean, but cluttered closets make me even more crazy than a cluttered house does. However, this is really not a right or wrong issue, in my opinion, so if I want the closets to be neat and tidy, I take responsibility for keeping them that way. Likewise, I can’t expect him to make the bed every day just because that’s one of my pressure points. I either relax my standards or agree to be the one to do the extra work.
2. Try to live up to his standards.
That said, giving 100% means that I do look for ways to live up to his standards. Even though it doesn’t bother me to leave my hair straightener on the side of the sink when it’s not in use, it bugs Sean, so I try to remember to wrap it up when I’m done. It also drives him nuts when I peel a fruit or veggie into the sink (since we don’t have a garbage disposal, and he usually does the dishes), so I try to remember to use a plate or container to catch them instead. And when I know that he liked my hair done a certain way, I wear it that way because I like to make him happy.
I know that doesn’t sound “fair”, but giving 100% isn’t really about fairness. I can eliminate a lot of fights by relaxing my standards and trying to live up to his, and — as an added bonus — he’s a lot more likely to try harder when he sees me trying as well!
3. Look for little ways to say I love you.
Life gets busy and we spend all day trying to keep up with demands and responsibilities, which leaves little time to really show each other we care. Instead of waiting for a holiday or special occasion, look for little everyday ways to show him you love and appreciate him. A little bit goes a long way, and this isn’t about investing a ton of time or money.
Not sure where to start? Try this list of 72 simple things you can do to brighten your spouse’s day from Engaged Marriage or this list of ways to say I love you that I posted around Valentine’s Day!
Giving 100%, especially when your spouse isn’t doing the same, might not feel all that good in the beginning. But if you’re doing it for the right reasons — because you want to invest in your marriage and make the other person happy and not because you’re trying to manipulate their behavior — it really does simplify things in the long run!
Do I do this perfectly? No, of course not. But I do try!
How do you give 100%?