This boy and me?
We’re doing good. I like him. He likes me. We make out a lot. Life is pretty good.
After almost sixteen years that Chris and I have been together (WHAT?!?!?!), I recently discovered something new about our relationship. Don’t you love when that happens? When you’ve known someone for so long and then, out of the blue, you learn something new about them?
I’ve learned lately that the most important thing I can do for my husband is actually one of the easiest things I can do for him. I can encourage him. Encouragement is so incredibly important in a relationship. We go out every day into the big, wide world where we have to face tough decisions, difficult people, failures, stresses, and uncertainty. The most important thing I can do for Chris is make sure that when he flies home to the nest every night, he has his biggest fan waiting to cheer him on.
In the early years of our marriage, I was very passive. I didn’t want to rock the boat, and so I hardly complained or criticized at all.
Then, in those middle years, when we were doing really important things like having babies and buying houses and making career choices, I really let it all out. Life’s stresses were weighing on me and I think I felt like I shouldn’t have to filter myself to my husband. He should just take me as I was – bossy and critical.
But in the past few years, I have changed my tune. Because, yes, Chris needs to take me just as I am, but do I want that to be bossy and critical? Or do I want that to be loving and kind? The wonderful thing about Chris is that he loves me unconditionally. And this is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, he will love me if I’m snappy and constantly demanding things from him. But he’ll also love me if I am encouraging and supportive, and that kind of love fosters such a better home life.
So, I’ve made a conscious effort in the past two or three months to be the encouraging, supportive kind of wife instead. When he comes home, I’m happy to see him. I always greet him, which I know sounds weird, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to just keep cooking dinner or going through the kids school work or whatever I’m doing when Chris walks in the door. The kids make such a fuss that I figure a shouted out, “Hey, babe!” will do the trick. But, how little effort does it take for me to stop and go say hello to him? And how big of a difference does it make in our relationship? It’s huge, I tell you!
In my marriage, I’d say 80% of our communication is insignificant.
Isn’t that so funny and weird to say? It’s true though. About 80% of the time, it’s “hi” and “good night” and “what’s for dinner” and “did you get the mail” and “when is your mom coming to visit” and “did you see the neighbors new dog.” All those insignificant interactions that husbands and wives have while running a household and raising a family.
But here’s the thing – 80% of ANYTHING is significant. Which means, those mundane, typical, practical interactions that I have daily with Chris are really important in my marriage. It’s the difference between a distracted, “Hey, babe,” when he walks in the door or a hug, kiss, and “Hi, sweetie! I missed you today!”
Simple, yes? But so incredibly important because in this 80% is how I make Chris feel. Am I just throwing out a rote response to our routine or can I use the opportunity to build him up?
It doesn’t mean that when I’m mad, I don’t say I’m mad or when I’m upset, I don’t say I’m upset. I tell him those things, too. But because we have spent so much of the 80% encouraging each other and speaking love to each other, those heated moments lose a little bit of their sting and power. I find that I can let go of anger faster and that both Chris and I are quicker to forgive and move on.
Life won’t always be this simple and calm. Who know what is coming down the line for us? But in these quiet times of peace, contentment, and happiness, I’m filling my marriage tank reserves with encouragement, kindness, and love. And we have never been happier.
Want more thoughts on how Chris and I keep our marriage happy? Check out my three keys to a successful marriage today over on Relationships Advice.