So here we are, on another Wednesday, and it's time to talk marriage!
My husband and I spoke at a marriage conference last weekend, and it was a great time. We always feel especially close after sharing truths about relationships (though the week leading up to the conference is often rotten)!
But the one truth that we try to hammer home is that you can't change another person. I think this is women's bent. It's like the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. We think it goes like this:
Beauty meets the Beast. She sees great potential inside the Beast. So she loves him, and because of her love he blossoms and becomes a Prince.
In other words, she loves him so that he will change. And then he does!
In our relationships, if that is our attitude, what happens if he doesn't change? Then it must be his fault, because we are doing the loving! What is wrong with him? And a lot of us have a long list of things that need to change. You say to yourself, "I'd be happy if only he'd..." and you can probably finish that sentence. Figure out what a mop is for. Spent some time with the kids. Stopped working so hard. Showed me some affection every once and a while.
But what if the Beauty and the Beast fairytale actually is different? I think it's more like this: Beauty meets the Beast. At first she is completely repulsed by him. But as she gets to know him, she accepts him and loves him, for the Beast that he is. Because of that acceptance, he changes.
Acceptance is the key. Don't we all just long to be accepted for who we are? Isn't that our deepest need: to be fully known, and yet still loved? And yet how many of us are holding that acceptance back from our husbands?
I'm not saying to ignore major issues in our marriages; not at all. In fact, we had several sessions this weekend on how to bring such issues up. I'm only saying that those your love for your husband should not be contingent on those issues. When we start thinking to ourselves, "maybe I can change him if I do this...", we're missing the boat.
But we can change ourselves. You can change the way you interact with your husband. You can change the dynamics in your home if you change yourself. And that is likely to cause ripple effects in the whole family. But such changes should be made not so that your husband will change, but so that you can be happy.
So if you feel taken for granted, figure out a way to get your kids more involved in chores. If you feel like your husband never spends any time with you and isn't romantic, plan romantic getaways yourself, and he'll likely come along. If you have no time together, just the two of you, trade baby-sitting with someone else. You take the steps, rather than getting mad at him, and chances are you will be happier even if he never changes. This is the main theme of my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum
, and if you're feeling depressed and taken for granted, I can't recommend this enough as a way to turn your marriage around.
I'll talk next week probably about how I see submission when it comes to this issue, but I want to drive this point home: what one or two areas are you waiting for your husband to change in before you fully accept him? I am not saying accept sin; again, that falls under the category of things we need to confront. But do you accept him, despite his laziness, his thoughtlessness, his selfishness? Do you accept him despite his faults, just as you have faults? If you don't, he's always going to be defensive, and your marriage can't grow.
So there's some food for thought for everybody.
Will you share your tips, or your problems, about marriage? Simply go and write your own post on your blog, and then come back here and fill in the Mr. Linky with the link that goes directly to your post. Copy the picture at the top of this post onto your hard drive (just right click it and "save picture as.."), and then post it on your post, too, to spread the word. Thanks so much!