I entered my marriage completely in love. I felt blessed to have found such an amazing man. Luckily, he also felt the same way about me! We would always be this happy. We would never be that married couple who eventually just “put up” with each other. Or worse, become so miserable that we’d separate from each other. No, our marriage was unique and nothing could change how we felt about each other. Ever.
Of course, if you’ve read my other post, A Marriage In Trouble, you know that things certainly did change. From that post…
For me, it was a matter of:
- Resentment for all the work I was doing that he never could seem to match up to. It felt like I did it ALL, and it sometimes infuriated me that he didn’t contribute the way that I thought he should.
- Lack of respect for him; I wanted to be in charge. Plain and simple. Hand over the controls.
- Loss of sexual interest; because I had negative thoughts and emotions about him/life, I had little interest in sex.
- My overall unhappiness/lack of contentment (see above problems).
I also ”wanted” things. I wanted to be having babies when I wanted them, but we kept losing them! This wasn’t his fault, of course, but I somehow let it become a problem between us. I also wanted to be living in the kind of home that we simply couldn’t afford. I blamed him for this instead of appreciating how blessed we already were.
Nearly everywhere we turn, we are inundated with poisonous views on marriage and on men in general. From books and television shows to talking with other married women, we are taught that it’s okay to be against our husbands, that we don’t really need men. No one better ever suggest that the man should be ”head of the house” because apparently that concept was thrown out the window more than a few decades ago.
Magazines and silly commercials make men out to be stupid and incompetent, requiring women to “take charge.” And everyone knows women are to wear the pants in the family now, or at least share the pants.
I was certainly influenced by these things, especially how women talked about their own husbands, but once I read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, I was ashamed of this way of viewing men, as well as my treatment of my husband.
A New Outlook
In Dr. Laura’s book, I found such revolutionizing ideas as respecting husbands, giving them the care and attention that they need (as humans, not just men), and showing appreciation for all that they do. It is a very encouraging read.
Her book is full of conversations she has had with people on her radio program, as well as letters written to her by both men and women. What stood out to me the most was how over and over again, the women were angry and unhappy, while the men were hurt and saddened by their wives’ (or ex-wives’) unhappiness.
Bingo. That was exactly what was going on with us.
The author advises bitter, disappointed women to start appreciating their men and stop always blaming them, because a man cannot be expected to stay with an angry, unhappy woman forever. (Note: The same could certainly be said to an angry, unhappy man.) She does not advocate divorce, but she is realistic in the fact that these problems are likely to lead to it.
Dr. Laura encouraged one particular caller, who described her relationship as being “horrible” because her husband was unhappy with how she treated him, to make three simple changes over the course of a few days and then to call her back. The three things were:
- Ask him for his opinion about something.
- Show him some appreciation.
- If it really isn’t important, let it pass because nobody likes to be jumped on all the time.
She did call back in a few days and was rather surprised that with seemingly small efforts she had helped to improve her husband’s mood and behavior and lighten up the atmosphere in the home, all leading to her own peace of mind.
After reading this, and other things in the book, I decided to give it a go. What could it hurt? I even took it a step further and aimed to be entirely sweet for a few weeks and see how it went. (Isn’t it terrible that I had to decide that I wanted to START being sweet?! Ugh)
It was quite weird at first. I found myself viewing my behavior and my responses to him in a totally different light. Almost like I was seeing someone else’s marriage. I tried to see myself as Dr. Laura might if she were witnessing our interactions. It was almost like an experiment. By doing this, it allowed me to respond differently than I normally would.
For example, if he asked me why I had purchased another laundry basket, I wouldn’t assume that he was accusing me of wasting money (as I definitely would have in the past), but instead, I would simply answer that I needed another one because I was now also washing cloth diapers. He then amazingly answered with “Oh, yeah, I guess you would need another one for that.” And then? Guess what – conversation over! He WASN’T accusing me of anything. He WASN’T attacking me or trying to start a fight (as I had always kind of thought). No, he really was just asking a question. Imagine that.
And when I asked him for his opinion on something in regards to the house, I was encouraged by his interest and helpful answers. It turns out he does know a thing or two, and his opinions and views can be of great use! Why had I not been asking for his advice before?
I also began showing interest in sex, which was well-received, of course. I flirted with him and initiated things, and otherwise showed interest in him. And an amazing thing happened…I actually started BEING interested again. I felt closer to him and I enjoyed the intimacy that had been lacking for so long.
When I started following the recommendations found in The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, and started seeing my relationship improve, I wanted to read more. I finished that book in just a few weeks (remember I had a young baby at the time), and during that time I changed dramatically. We didn’t have a single fight or disagreement. I refused to be ugly or negative. And guess what – it apparently takes two to tango. Or, at least it did for us. It turns out that my attitude really was the problem. He took his cues from me. When my behavior changed and I began behaving in a loving way, and remaining positive instead of becoming defensive, things went smoothly between us.
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Next, I will be sharing what happened when I no longer had to fake it, and began wanting to properly care for my husband, my marriage, and myself. I will also talk about how and why the resentment I had felt toward him dissolved, and how my respect for him grew.
There have been remarkable changes in our marriage, and it all started with small steps. Stay tuned!