A very wise woman once told me that couples’ counseling does not work if all both of you do is walk in and both say, “Well he does this. He doesn’t meet my needs. He needs to do this. He won’t do what I ask of him.” And “Well, she does this. She doesn’t meet my needs. She needs to do this. She won’t do what I ask of her.” She continued on to say that in reality if we are only expecting the other person to change yet are unwilling to change ourselves OR we are waiting for them to change first, to be the first to make the effort, then we may just end up waiting a very long time and become resentful and bitter in the process. Whether in counseling or not, the individuals in a relationship should understand that in order to get what he or she wants or needs from a relationship, they must first be willing to give to the other spouse what they need, want or are requesting. In the end, you should find that then, the receiving spouse is willing to give back what the giving spouse needs. In other words, you have to give to get.
My husband is often quoting someone (sorry can’t remember who and in reality it really is not as important as the message), “A marriage starts out broken and you spend the rest of the marriage making it whole again.” I take this to mean that you have two separate parts, in other words husband Part A and wife Part B, and are trying to make it into one whole, or the Whole and Complete Couple. This can take a lifetime even in the best of marriages.
My marriage is new and built on two strong, independent, self-sufficient and self-sustaining individual parts – and one, me, that lacks in patience when it comes to getting my needs met. Sometimes we can both feel like a square peg trying to conform to a round hole. It’s challenging but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible or not worthwhile. If that were the case, we would not be married.
So what does this all mean or have to do with my post today? Everything. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to build a stronger relationship with my husband, to work to making us one whole and complete entity that builds and supports the whole. Frankly, I think every marriage should make this a goal every year to make the whole even stronger. One of the steps I am taking this year to help build on that resolution is “Doing the little things that count.” Since the little things that count mean so much to me, I am making a very concerted effort to do those things in return for my husband because I know they matter and are important to him. Here are some of the things I will be doing that you may want to try with your husband:
Make a hobby that is his and hobby that is yours.
This really equates to spending time together. Generally speaking men like when their “girl” spends time doing things with them that they like doing. This does not mean adopting something you hate, but rather to try to find things that you both enjoy or that you could enjoy if slightly modified.
For me, I know my husband LOVES fishing. He and my son are obsessed. I don’t hate fishing BUT my limit is about an hour. Even when I am catching fish, I am only good for about an hour, two at the most. So one of the things I will be doing is seeing about combining two of our likes. I love taking walks in nature. So I will be planning some two hour little adventures that will include an hour of fishing and an hour of walking.
Perhaps your hubby likes basketball or sports in general. Is there one that you enjoy that you could watch together or that he could “teach” you? Maybe its surfing or skiing or bike riding.
Admire him and his efforts.
I have to admit, I am really bad about this one, which is ironic since it is my number one need – admiration/respect. I believe in giving acknowledgment where acknowledgment is due and praise equal to the task at hand. So if my husband lays sod in our backyard that is absolutely praise worth in my mind and absolutely deserves to be admired and appreciated. On the other hand, I am not convinced that just because you washed the dishes or put the dishes in the dishwasher away that the task warrants the same level admiration and praise, if any, as the sod.
However, it has been pointed out to me that in general a man needs praise or wants praise for everything he does to help, even if we as women feel that it is just a given that they should or someone should do the task as just a part of everyday life. So, I will be making a concerted effort to not only say thank you and admire the huge things like the yard but also say thank when my husband does do the dishes, or takes the dogs out, or changes the litter box, or cleans the house.
Since my husband is also our main money producer, I will also be more appreciative vocally of him, his job and the work he does. Truly without his efforts there our family’s financials would look a lot different. So while I internally am very grateful for the hard work he does at work and the funds he brings home, I am not nearly as vocal as I should be.
Dress to impress.
Okay so no you are not going on an interview BUT as my husband has reminded me several times, women maybe tactile but men are visual. So making sure that we work to incorporate some of the elements of fashion that they like into our wardrobe and making sure we make an effort to appeal to them is important. I am going to say it needs to be done realistically. If you are a stay at home mom, not really practical that you wear high heels while cleaning the house or running after a two year old.
For me, I know that my husband prefers when I wear my hair down, have my make-up done, wear dresses or skirts and panty hose with heels and not sweats with my hair in a bun all the time. Sorry but I am not going to do some of those things all the time because they are not practical for my life and its demands. BUT on our date nights, I will make sure to wear my hair down, a dress or a skirt and panty hose. If I’m not in a dress or skirt, then I will still try to wear heels. I almost always wear make-up so that one is easy. As for my hair, this one might be difficult on a daily basis as I really like my hair up. But I will make an effort.
Asking for help.
I may be bad about saying words of admiration to my husband but, I am WAY worse at asking for help. Yet generally speaking, men need to be needed. Which I must say totally sucks for us women who consider ourselves pretty self-sufficient, which I am one of them. And my husband has expressed this need to me.
So if you are like me, might I suggest you suck it up like I will be doing this year, and determinedly look for ways that they can help you and ask for it, even if you can and are completely capable of doing it.
I know there are tasks that I feel I can get done faster if I do them myself, or that if they are not done how I want them, then I won’t be happy and will end up doing it again or are things I would have to teach on. I won’t be asking for help on those. That would just cause a problem. But there are things that even though I am capable of doing them, it would be a help if he did them. I am going to make an effort to ask for help.
A little side note, if your husband is like mine, I would suggest giving a deadline and letting him know that it is a hard deadline if you need something done within a certain time.
My hope is that in doing these little things that count for my husband, a few things will happen. Hopefully it will help strengthen our marriage and build on our marriage’s foundation of the love we committed to on the day we said I do. Also, hopefully, it will create a sense of desire in my husband to work to do the same to fulfill my needs more.
If you want to build a stronger marriage, try it for yourself. Find out what little things you could do for your spouse or significant other and see what happens.
As a side note, because I would be curious if I were reading this on someone else’s blog, yes my husband does read my blog posts and yes I am sure he will help keep me accountable on this New Year’s resolution.