Working for Your Marriage When it Doesn’t Work for You
By Evan Page
Marriage is hard—especially when it is a new journey. Most people aim to prepare us by asking questions like, “Which way do you turn the toilet paper?” But in all the stories of broken relationships, have you ever heard someone say, “I just couldn’t live with how he/she turned the toilet paper.” Not likely. So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of three questions we can ask ourselves when our marriage starts getting tough and we feel the need to blame it on our spouse.
1. Am I communicating clearly?
It took my husband and I awhile to get this figured out. He always thought I wanted him to agree with me. Although that would’ve been nice, what I really wanted was to just feel understood. I learned that when we were talking, what I was saying and what he was hearing were two different things. So, if you feel like you aren’t on the same page as your spouse, here is an easy task. Take turns talking. Once one of you has finished, let the other repeat back what they heard. Keep repeating until both of you have an opportunity express yourself and feel understood. (*Note: The most important criteria in this activity is to listen to your loved one. If you don’t genuinely listen, you won’t be able to understand where he/she is coming from.)
2. Am I being selfish?
Let me go ahead and answer that for you … Yes. When two sinners get married most of our issues are bound to come from a place of self-serving. We usually have one goal in mind: our own happiness. It takes self-discipline to stop and evaluate our motives when in a disagreement with someone. Ask yourself if you are upset because you aren’t getting exactly what you want. One of the best pieces of advice my husband and I ever got was to try to out serve one another on a daily basis. It is nearly impossible to genuinely serve your spouse if you are being self-centered.
3. Is it an “you/me” problem or a “male/female” problem?
From the first chapter of Genesis we see that God created man and woman different. Let’s just call it a blessing and a curse. A lot of my first-year frustrations in marriage weren’t issues that were exclusive to my husband and me, they were issues that every male and female in a relationship deals with. When we stop trying to fight our differences in how we were created, it gives us an opportunity to recognize issues that are bigger than just the two of you and extend grace towards our spouse. It can also help us to let go of the things that we can’t change and work together to be part of a solution.
It’s important to keep in mind that no marriage is perfect, and it is a daily choice to be intentional with your spouse. Your attitude and your willingness to self-reflect can have a huge impact on your marriage. As author Dr. Gary Chapman said, “Marriages either get better or worse. They never stand still.”
Evan Page lives in Hilton Head Island with her husband, Stephen, and her two boys, Merrick (3) and Wake (2), and they are expecting their third baby in August. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and most of her days are filled trying to capture adventures with her children on camera.
Helpful Marriage Resources
“The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” and “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman
“Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
“Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti” by Bill and Pam Ferrell