I feel like this is such an easy phrase to apply to acquaintances and even friends, but when you try to apply it to a marriage, it seems to fall apart.
I know I hold my husband to my own standard of perfection sometimes that’s totally unfair. When he comes home from work, I sometimes expect that he’ll be the perfect conversationalist (since, after all, the only person I’ve talked to all day only wants to talk about choo-choos – I’m dying for real conversation!). I also expect him to be an engaged father and help with the chores somehow.
I also want him to give me a break, and make sure to thank me for every single thing I’ve done that day.
I 100% realize it’s unfair. And I’m pretty good about catching myself… Most of the time.
But the truth is, I want him to be perfect a lot more often than is fair.
And I’d wager the same can be said for him. Occasionally, he comes home and gets frustrated about a messy house or the fact that dinner didn’t get made or that there are still two days worth of dishes in the sink. I know I’ve broken promises to him that hurt his feelings. I’m sure he has moments of thinking, “Why can’t she just… be better?”
I don’t blame him, because I also know we each have those feelings about ourselves.
For me, it looks a lot like, why can’t I just be a better wife? Why can’t I be more patient with our son? Why can’t I work harder? Why can’t I do it all?
There’s a serious reality check to be had here, and I think it’s one that’s worth repeating over and over. I think it’s something worth saying to yourself morning, noon, and night, whenever you’re tempted to get down on your spouse or yourself on not being “good enough.”
Marriage is not designed for perfect people.
Now, breathe a sigh of relief. That takes a lot of pressure off. You don’t have to be (or have) the perfect spouse to have the perfect marriage for you.
Marriage is about bringing together two inherently flawed, broken people so they can help balance each other out and make them better. (Which is also why it’s not always about your happiness, but that’s another post for another day :))
So I want to talk about some strategies for better embracing your brokenness as a couple.
For those times when you feel you can’t depend on your spouse and that they’re not supporting you in a way that you need, take heart. Remember that God doesn’t expect you to get everything you need from your spouse. Marriage isn’t designed to supply you with your every need.
The only person who can meet your every need, fully and completely, is God.
If you’re feeling unfulfilled by your spouse, remember that he’s only human, and take your needs to God instead.
In a related vein…
Sometimes praying for your spouse is going to sound a lot like, “Please make him stop being such a jerk.” And to be honest, that’s okay.
Sometimes that’s the best you’ve got (because marriage is work, people!) but you’ll improve over time (and I firmly believe God has a sense of humor: If you don’t believe me, ask someone expecting another baby after they just sold all their baby stuff.)
But really, pray sincerely for them. Pray for them to have happy, restful days and to get whatever spiritual/physical nourishment they need. Pray for them to better understand and meet your needs.
When things are really rough and you don’t feel like praying for them, that’s when you need to be praying the most.
I don’t mean this selfishly – because, done right, this can be a powerful, humbling experience.
Pray for help in knowing what your spouse needs. Pray that you’ll have patience with them. Pray to see the good in them and not focus on the bad.
Pray to be a better wife: Ask God to shine a light on the areas in which you need improvement. If you ask with real intent, He will show you. It can be uncomfortable, but remember: He loves you and only wants the best for you. He only wants you to be better!
The best way to embrace your brokenness as a couple is by not trying to cover it up. The strongest marriages are made up of people who have learned to be vulnerable with one another.
Talk openly about your struggles with one another. Communicate (politely, if it’s something they’ve done) about what’s bothering you and try to formulate a plan together to fix it.
If you’re struggling with depression, for instance, ask your spouse to give you an hour or two on your own to focus on self-care (and if you need help getting started, here’s a great list of ideas!). If you’re struggling with anger as a parent, ask them to pray for you to be more patient.
If it’s something that can’t be fixed immediately, figure out ways to support each other. Ask your spouse for their patience, and be sure to thank them for the things they do.
Have you heard the quote, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle? Be gentle with one another. Remember that you two are a team: if something affects one of you, it affects both of you.
If you know he’s struggling with, say, not getting enough sleep, surprise him with an opportunity to linger in bed one morning while you take the kids out of the house.
If one of you is struggling with a chronic illness, do your research to try to help each other out, whether it’s a new form of medication or a naturopathic solution to try, like stretches or essential oil.
If you’re not sure how to serve your spouse, ask them what they’d like from you. If they’re anything like my husband and they say “Oh, nothing. Don’t worry about it,” then go back to step #2 and pray for them: Ask what they’re most in need of and how you can provide for them.
Related: 40 Ways To Serve Your Husband
By taking these steps, you’ll be well on your way to a stronger, happier marriage.
I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.
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