Last Friday, my husband and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. I still can’t believe that we have been married for 5 years already! There are some moments where I feel like our wedding was only yesterday, and there are moments where it feels like we’ve been married for much longer than 5 years.
Lately, my husband and I seem to be stuck in the cycle of self. Most of our arguments or disagreements occur due to a difference of opinion on how things should be handled, or who should do what. And when we begin to debate on these things and try to come to an agreement, we tend to focus on ourselves. Usually, at some point in our argument, I will say, “well if you would do (insert what I want my husband to do here) then maybe I would be more willing to do (insert what husband wants me to do here)” or something similar to that effect. Or I’ll throw out the line of, “why can’t you love me like you did when we were dating or first got married.”
Reading those words that I’ve just typed, all I can think of is, ouch. It must hurt my husband to hear me utter those words. And to be honest, I almost always regret those words, after they are said.
A few weeks ago, looking back on what our relationship was like while we were dating, I started to go through old chat messages and emails that we sent one another. I mainly just wanted to see if our relationship had changed, and also to remind myself of the people that we were, when we started dating. It was interesting to me reading those old messages that we sent to one another. I learned a few things about myself, about my husband, and about our marriage.
One of my biggest frustrations is the housework. Both my husband and I work, and so as much as I desire my house to be clean and tidy, many days by the time dinner and bedtime are here and gone, I’m ready to go to sleep myself. So my house is usually messy. It takes me a week to get the clean laundry put away, there’s usually a string of clothes from the bathroom to the laundry hamper in our bedroom, and the dirty dishes sometimes pile up in the sink. (I’ve also woken up the next morning to last night’s dinner still sitting on the table..does this ever happen to anyone?) And I wonder…why doesn’t my husband clean up after himself like he used to while we were dating.
Reading through those old messages, I learned something! My husband was awful about cleaning up after himself while we were dating! We worked opposite schedules a lot, and so there were many days I would have off, where I would go over to his apartment to clean and do his laundry. Sometimes I would even do his grocery shopping!!! When I read these messages I realized that this was something that I had seemed to overlook while we were dating. I’ve thought about this discovery on and off over the past several weeks and I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason I’ve blocked that out of my memory, is because it was something that I did out of sacrifice and to show devotion and love to my then boyfriend, and not necessarily out of necessity. I was focusing on a need that Matt had, and not on myself, when i was cleaning his apartment.
And then it dawned on me, that the solution to many of the arguments with my husband, is to lay down my pride, focus on my husband and on his desires and needs. Maybe, if I was more focused on that, instead of what I wasn’t getting from him, that I may feel more fulfilled and not quite so empty. AND..I also may quit keeping score on how many times I’ve had to change poopy diapers, or get out of bed to comfort a screaming child due to a nightmare, or who last emptied the dishwasher. (you get the idea!)
I think this was God’s intention when he created marriage. He created marriage as an opportunity for a husband and a wife to serve one another. And when the focus in our marriage is serving the other person, then some of those petty arguments, or the temptation to keep score with who has done what and for who, starts to disappear.
For me, this is a hard concept to learn and digest. I’m a very competitive person, and I have to be right, all the time. So it’s hard for me to focus on someone else, put myself aside, and serve them. But I am beginning to notice that when I do focus more on my husband and serving him, the temptation to go there when I’m upset or angry, is not as strong. Because I see my husband for who he is, and the person that he’s always been!
May you have an opportunity to serve those around you today!