Dear Wife / Wife-to-be,
I address this letter to you, not because I think I know it all (believe me, I still have a lot to learn), but because I think there are a few things that I have learnt the hard way that I would like to impart with you, so that you don’t have to walk around the same mountains that I’ve had to.
My first piece of advice would be to pick your battles. My husband and I are both strong-willed, hard-headed people, but we have learnt that not everything needs to be discussed, debated, or complained about. My husband does not see the use behind making a bed. His argument is that you’re going to get into the bed again anyway, so just freshen it up before you get in. I am not that person. I like the bed made with all twenty-seven scatter cushions neatly placed on the bed, as well as the throw. Am I going to fight with him about it? No. Why not? Because, in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I leave my shoes lying around (so does he) and I leave lights on and cupboards open. Especially the laundry closet-door – and, at least once a week, my husband walks into the door and spills his coffee and screams profanities. Do we fight about it? No. Does he sit me down and have a talk about my shoes that are lying around? Or the fact that I (with my OCD) cannot, for the life of me, remember to unpack my lunchbox? No. If your husband’s clothes fail to find the laundry basket, or his dishes fail to find the dishwasher, leave it, let it be. It is not such a big issue. Be grateful that you still have a husband that leaves his clothes in the house, or eats at home. Many women pray for this.
Kindly note that there is a difference between small quirks and a messy, dirty spouse, and the latter may present a very material issue.
No one likes a nag. The Book of Proverbs says that a nagging wife is like a dripping tap. Imagine how annoying it will be if you have someone who nags the whole entire time. Do this? Do that? When will you do this? When are you coming home? When will you start the fire? Make the bed? Put your clothes in the laundry? Oh my word woman. You sound like his mother. Is his mother sexually appealing to him? Hopefully not (because then you have bigger problems and I don’t think that this is the post for you). I ask my husband once. Baby, please pour us something to drink. Or, baby, please will you buy formula. He heard me the first time. I know us, as women, when we ask something from our husbands we wanted it done 10 minutes ago already. I get that. I am that woman. Yet, no one likes a nag. I want my husband to see me as his wife, not his mother.
Which brings me to my next topic – bitching and moaning. My neighbours have a thing. My friend’s fiancee gives her, for argument’s sake, 30 minutes to complain about the day, people, work, office, life, whatever. 30 minutes. Then it’s over and the rest of the evening is light and fluffy. Women need to vent. We need to get it out, have our husbands listen (warn him beforehand you don’t want him to fix it, you just need to talk about it) and then we will feel like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. Yet, complaining the whole time and not having one positive thing to say when you get home after work will annoy even the most saintly.
Don’t correct your husband in public. Don’t interrupt him. Don’t put him down. I have been around so many women that insult their husbands in front of a crowd just to get a laugh in. Treat your husband the way you want to be treated. Talk to him the way you want to be talked to. Don’t degrade each other. Imagine how you would want your daughter to speak to her husband, or how you would want your son to be spoken to (and vice-versa).
A big, big, unbelievably big lesson I’ve had to learn (and I am ashamed to admit) is that I can’t control my husband. I can’t make his decisions for him. I can’t keep him away from beautiful women who are opportunistic. I can’t control his coming and going. I can’t control what he does in his business, social life or personal life. This is a bitter pill to swallow for a control freak, and I still battle at times. But, it has taught me to trust him to make the best decisions for himself and our family. And he hasn’t disappointed me thus far. Yes, there have been instances where I thought that he was making a mistake (and most of those instances I have been wrong). I have learnt to let go and let God and that God can protect my husband more than I ever could. It also lightens the load on your shoulders to not to have to control your husband, and I actually quite enjoy that.
I have also learnt that everything does not need to spoken about. There are many battles that must be fought in prayer and not with your spouse. Einstein said that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is true for so many marriages. In every marriage there is that one something that bothers you about the other person. I speak under correction, but I think my only-child syndrome sometimes gets to my husband, or my absent-mindedness, or my extremely busy and consequently forgetful brain. There are marriages that have overcome addictions, extra-marital mistakes, abuse, you name it, not because of nagging, or talking about it, or by seeing a counsellor, but by fighting the battle in prayer.
GOD CAN CHANGE IN A WHISPER WHAT YEARS OF NAGGING CAN’T DO.
(Disclaimer: We all have our vices that are not good for us or other people. Pray for bad habits or unhealthy relationships to change, but, if you have to ask God to change the person your spouse is, maybe you need more prayer than your spouse.)
My last piece of advice would be to have fun. Be the woman your husband dated. The one who didn’t just discuss to-do lists with him, or nag about how hectic her day was, or judge every person that walks by. Be best friends – there is no space in a marriage for a man or woman to be “best friends” with another person of the opposite sex. You must be each other’s best friends. So invest in each other. Pay attention, like you still want to impress the other one. Be spontaneous (even if you have to plan it).
Marriage is awesome. Treat it as such.
Married for only three years and loving it