What Being A Good Spouse Means To Me

Seth and I's wedding anniversary is fast approaching, and with that coming I have been doing lots of thinking about our marriage, and about marriage in general.

Being a good spouse is not always easy for me. I am extremely independent, outspoken, and - though I'm not always willing to acknowledge it - self-centered. I definitely struggle, in this season in particular when things are so new and exciting for me, to put him and our marriage before myself, my career and my athletic pursuits. I think, though, that I found the perfect partner in Seth, because he loves that I am my own person, with my own thoughts, and that I don't need him the way some spouses need their partners.


My definition of being a good spouse has probably changed a few times over the years, but especially since I have actually gotten married. Once you have lived together for multiple years (I mean, truly lived together, through the monotony of work days, seasonal allergies, snoring, old tupperware left too long in the fridge and ew it's a bug get it!) your interactions become much different than they were when you were dating, and it takes a lot of intention and thoughtfulness to remain what I could consider to be a good spouse.

1. Choose your words carefully.

No one wants to be nagged. No one wants to feel scolded or belittled by their spouse. Speak kindly, and thoughtfully - think before you speak, but also think about whether or not that particular argument is worth it. My grandparents were married for 66 years when my grandfather passed away - several years before his death, and I asked him, "What is the secret to a long and happy marriage?" and he said, "Always be the first one to give up in an argument." This rings true to me every day.

2. Say it out loud.

Don't hold stuff in. Don't make your spouse wonder, "Is he/she mad at me?" That can be not only stressful for your spouse, but also damaging to your relationship as the other person is made to feel as if you aren't willing to talk to them about serious issues - and where does that leave your marriage?

3. Be willing to examine yourself.

Did you guys read this post? I wrote in that post about reading the book The Five Love Languages, and how it affected our marriage. Being willing to examine your own faults and flaws as a spouse, and work to correct them to improve your spouse's happiness, it absolutely critical in maintaining a happy marriage. It's not always comfortable to say, "Well, maybe he's less happy because I'm nagging him so much about X", and to make a conscious effort to stop the behavior. But, since we read that book and have made concerted efforts toward addressing each other's love languages, it has made a ton of difference. Always be open-minded and willing to be critical of your own weaknesses as a spouse.

4. Spend time away from your spouse.

 Have your own life, your own hobbies, and spend time out of the house without your spouse. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder", right? A couple of years ago (during our engagement), I read, "The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married", by Iris Krasnow. Some of the stories in that book examined the fact that it is crucial for partners in a committed relationship to spend time apart from one another, pursuing their own passions, in order for a marriage to remain healthy. This rings true to me - by spending all our time at home with each other, we become too reliant upon the other person's attentions and behavior to fulfill us. It places an immense amount of pressure on each other as spouses to fill a huge void in our spouse's life and to keep them happy, where spending time out of the home pursuing your own passions fills that void without placing that responsibility on your spouse.

5. Pull your weight.

Marriages are not always 50/50, and they are not always in balance. Sometimes one spouse will be making more money, sometimes the other. Sometimes one will have lots of time to spend at home and be able to keep up on the housework, sometimes it will be the other. Pull your weight. Don't expect one spouse to do all the money-making for your whole marriage, or all the housework, all the child care, or all the anything. Expect that, at some point, you will have to pull your weight in an arena outside your comfort zone, and be prepared for that.

I'm no marital expert. We've only been married (almost) two years. In two years, though, these are the things I've learned about being a good spouse - to me. It's also advice that I've gotten from people that have been married a long time (like my grandfather). These things have been true for us, and likely, are true for many couples that intend to have long, happy marriages with their spouse.

9 comments:

  1. I agree with 4 and 5. spending time away from each other makes us appreciate the time we do spend together more. Also, if you think that marriage is always 50/50, you will be disappointed because it's not always possible!

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  2. I agree with all of these, but I think being willing to examine yourself is so important. It's crucial to be able to recognize your own flaws and realize when you're at fault. Great post.

    Best Wishes,
    Allison Jones
    www.LiveLifeWellBlog.com

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  3. Love this! It's been 10 years for us, and we've had our crazy times. If we could narrow it down though, I think most of it comes down to communicating. #2 resonates with me very loudly, because I'm not much of a talker - well..at least not the deep stuff that I feel. The things that I should be able to talk to someone about, but I can't, or don't. It's definitely not healthy to hold things in, because you do eventually explode

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  4. oh also - what a cute picture of you two! That is true love there.

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  5. Love your tips, it's really useful to me, thanks for your sharing!

    Jessica
    http://www.glassesshop.com/

    ReplyDelete
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