I’m presently working my way through a book called Spousonomics: Using Economics To Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes. The title sparked my interest, and it’s an enjoyable read, although I find the lengthy explanations of economics a bit tiring. I’m only a few chapters in, but so far the book has covered a few of the main conflicts that married couples face. The first chapter is called “Division of Labor, Or, Why You Should Do the Dishes.” As I read through each “Case Study,” where the authors describe real life couples in real life situations, I thought through what my husband and I have fought about the most.
One evening, I brought this book up in conversation with my husband, and we discussed what seems to cause us to enter a “rough patch.” It’s not division of labor (I foresee that as a future problem, but it’s neutral for the time being).It’s not money or finances. Not because we never argue about money, but because going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University together really helped get us on the same page.
When we hit a rough patch, communication breaks down, and we start avoiding each other. This rough patch can sometimes be triggered by extreme stress/strain, or tough work schedules. I find though that the first thing to switch over is my attitude. I start thinking about the kind of husband my hubby is or is not being. I think about how he NEVER does _________[fill in the blank]. He ALWAYS does ______[fill in the blank], just to annoy me. Every little idiosyncrasy suddenly rears its head. When I’m 100% in this mode, every other move he makes is irritating to me. I suddenly feel a surge of fear and ask myself, “What is happening to my marriage?” Sometimes it takes a confrontation to get me to start analyzing myself. I’ll realize that I have switched my brain over to thinking entirely about MYSELF, MY needs, what I want to do, how I am not being served.
When my heart is in a humble/desperate enough state to stop criticizing for a second, then I realize what I am doing and start turning those questions around. How am I serving my husband’s needs? How am I being kind to him? What would he like to do? What is he feeling? How is he doing? Usually this exercise is enough to bring me off my high horse. Having redirected my focus on what I could be doing to be a better wife, I find that all those annoying idiosyncrasies (that were driving me crazy just 10 minutes ago) suddenly dissolve into the background. I usually find that I am not being kind, and have not looked for ways to serve my husband.
I’m going to end with a passage from a book I hold in high regard. It was given to me by a professor while I was attending college. From The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis:
“D.L. Moody was one of the greatest Christian evangelists who ever lived. He could hold a crowd in the palm of his hand, won thousands of converts to the faith, and established several religious institutions. Yet he never displayed the pompous air of self-importance that so many famous evangelists did in that era. He was a tolerant, understanding man who rarely criticized. One of his famous sayings was, ‘Right now I’m having so much trouble with D.L. Moody that I don’t have time to find fault with the other fellow.’ ”