"Men marry women hoping they'll never change. Women marry men hoping to change them. Neither happens." I love that quote. It's one of those quotes that's funny...because it's true!
Has your spouse ever done anything that annoys you? I'm talking about small annoyances here, day to day things that might drive you nuts, but you'll let slide most of the time. If your answer is no, you're probably a newlywed! Ha ha! In all seriousness, we know that marriage takes work and it's important to be sensitive to your spouses needs. Small annoyances can add up, leading to bigger problems, even resentment, so why not nip them in the bud before they get big? I found that when I was trying to solve problems it wasn't as good a feeling as when I started creating solutions! So, what's the difference? When you are "solving problems"...you are focusing on the problems (negative). When you become a "solution creator"...you start focusing on the solutions (positive).
It's really all about the "attitude". My husband gets annoyed with me when we get in my vehicle to go somewhere and he has to stop and get gas before getting on the road. He would grumble about it while I defended myself....it's not like I did it intentionally. I always saw it as a "problem" I had to solve. Guess what, it didn't change...until I changed my attitude about it.
I've heard "be a solution creator" before but this is the first time I am embracing it...and it's making a difference! It doesn't matter if it was intentional on my part or not, it bothered my husband so I should try to create a solution. So I did. Simple as that. Once I wasn't on the defensive, I totally understood where he was coming from! It was silly not to. If that's what he has to complain about, we're doing pretty good! :) Until I changed my attitude about it, I didn't want to change my behavior. I think we do this with a lot of things when we feel "on the defensive". If something doesn't feel good, we don't want to change for others.
So, now I have a day of the week designated when I go fill my tank...whether it's empty or not. I also plan to double check if we are headed somewhere. I don't drive that much, so my tank lasts a while being a 24 gallon tank! I even improved on my plan and get it washed each week at that same time. Now that this is scheduled, and part of my routine, I feel so much better about it. That wasn't hard. By changing MY attitude my husband and I are both HAPPIER! I already have days scheduled for the rest of my errands...I just added this to it! I used to just do it "as needed" and obviously that didn't work well enough.
Now, some of you may be wondering...how do you get your husband to change? You want the truth? You can't. You can't control anyone but yourself. By changing your behavior...this can lead to a change in his behavior. You can talk to him, because maybe he doesn't even know he is doing anything that annoys you. Maybe he cracks eggs on the side of the frying pan so it drips down and gets baked on the cooktop!...(can you tell this used to make me want to scream!?...not anymore because I created a solution! Now he uses a bowl!) My stepson is home from college and he leaves the medicine cabinet open every time he opens it. It's also our guest bathroom so I like keeping it neat. After closing it about 3 times a day myself and grumbling about it...I thought, "If I don't SAY anything, I'm just being a victim!" So...I talked to him about it. Great, I thought that was the end of it....until the next day when it was left open again! So, instead of yelling at him, I told him how it made me feel to ask him to do something and have him disregard it. I asked him, "what can we do to make this happen...?" Since then, he closes it. The old me would've kept closing it, getting madder each time I did...having him never even know it bothered me! Men are very straightforward, they don't communicate the same way women do. We, as women, think men should be able to read our minds and just KNOW what we are thinking. They can't. They may be our superhero's in other ways, but this is not one of them. You cannot change a man. But you can train a man. So a simple talk may do the trick. Just remember, most men don't like being told what to do...so don't nag or get mad...try going for a walk, have a conversation telling him how you feel and what you think a good solution would be. Men respond to enthusiasm better than negativity. Sometimes trying a different and new approach can make all the difference...just show them the way, with a smile!
My husband came up with a "solution" recently that has honestly changed our lives. He suggested it was time we got a housekeeper. So, what led up to this? Annoyance. Annoyance on his part never thinking the house was quite clean enough. Annoyance on my part feeling like I couldn't keep up. I tried...but honestly, I could've tried harder. I'll be really honest here...cleaning the nitty gritty parts of the house have always been a thorn in my side. Going from being in the workplace, working 10 hour days, for 17 years... to being a stay at home stepmom and wife was a big change for me. After five years I still couldn't master it. I was never the "natural housewife". It took time to adjust and honestly there were times when I would think, "Am I cut out for this...I am not a good housekeeper!" I did it...but I didn't enjoy that part of it. Along with that came guilt...because in every other way I was living the dream, right?
When I started this website and blog, it became the creative outlet I hadn't realized I was missing in my life. I am so blessed to have a husband that is so supportive and that believes in me.... so much so that one day he said, "I think it's time we get a housekeeper, I think your time is better spent doing other things." Wow. I was SO thrilled. I'm so happy that he thought of a "solution" that would benefit us both! Since then, my life is so much less stressed...NOW I'm living the dream. NOW, it's amazing how perfect my home always is! In between the housekeepers coming, I keep my house cleaner than before!! I want it perfect all the time! Just KNOWING that I don't have to clean the showers and toilets and the nitty gritty stuff (I have an old house with a lot of grout!)...it's easy to keep everything clean!! I don't think I've gone ONE day without making my bed as soon as I get out of it since this change. I LOVE my clean house and take more pride in keeping it that way now that I don't have that hanging over my head. My husband is THRILLED. Talk about a WIN/WIN for both of us. BEST decision EVER!! This is worth it for US. Something else might be the "key" for you! Once you find it, it could make you HAPPIER as a couple! I'm not saying the answer is a housekeeper, I realize that's a privilege that isn't available to everyone, that just happened to be a big key for us that was well worth the cost...it's been life changing! Since this change, my laundry is even always done!! It's making me get everything in my home organized and scheduled.
Don't get complacent in your marriage. Don't stop working on your marriage...it does take work. Ask your spouse if there's anything you can do to make them happier. Just asking that will make them feel good. Take the time and see what simple solutions you can think of that could make a huge difference to you and your spouse's day to day lives...to your happiness.
I am not an expert - but I do have a group of friends, married couples, that have some of the best marriages I've EVER seen. Before I met them, I honestly wondered if that kind of relationship existed. I remember when I first met these 5 couples....I knew they had something different, something special. I knew I could learn from them. I feel so blessed to have learned so much from them and now can be a part of that amazingly positive group dynamic....I feel like my husband and I can now be that couple...that can inspire others.