(From the book, Women of Grace: A Bible Study for Married Women by Michaelann Martin. These are my thoughts after reading the lesson.)
To Love is to Communicate
I have been sitting on this chapter a little longer than the others, letting it stew and simmer. Love and communication, sometimes not easy to achieve with our spouses. I remember in our dating and newlywed phase, DH and I would talk about everything. We could spend hours and hours talking and never wear out. Now, after 6 years of dating and 7 1/2 years of marriage, we wear out. Or, we are so busy that sometimes we forget to talk except for the quick, "Don't forget that 'child's name' has a doctor's appointment tomorrow" or "Could you please take out the trash?" I am sure you know what I mean. We have all been there. All of us.
So what can we do to reverse that, or at the very least to minimize it?
I think first we have to look at our current vocation in life and make sure our wills are in line with God's will for our life. Our Lady, our greatest mentor, raised Jesus and cared for St. Joseph. Are we content in that role or do we think that a different role would make us happier? For me, I always knew one of us would stay home and that it would probably be me since DH makes a much better salary than I ever would have. And DH agreed with this. I have not regretted this decision and I have absolutely no desire to work outside the home. I have so much to do as it is that the idea of a job just because of money sounds like, well, too much work. However, I am very, very lucky in that my DH can support our family on his paycheck alone. Perhaps you wish to stay at home but cannot because of financial reasons. If so, after some prayerful consideration, it may be that you could live off of one income after some lifestyle adjustments. Or you could work less. Whatever you do, pray and trust that God will help you, that He will provide. In the end, you will only be "happiest" when doing God's will and that will translate into peace in your heart and ultimately, your household and your relationship with your spouse.
Next, look at how you treat your spouse. Do you take him for granted? (I have.) Do you ask things of him nicely? (How often I have forgotten to say "please" and "thank you" to the one closest to me.) Do you do nice things for him - like give him a chance to unwind before dumping the kids on him? (Guilty.) Do you make time for your spouse or do you grumble because your spouse does nothing for you? Schedule a day to do something with just your spouse. You hear this advice all the time and it is something I have a difficult time doing. Lately we have taken to having in-home dates once the kids are asleep since getting out of the house is such a hassle (and expensive!). Another beautiful time I have with my husband is our frequent trips to our hometown. We have nearly an hour and a half of chat time. This is when we dream, assess, and just talk like when we first started dating. I love this time and cherish it. Think about what you can do to spend some quiet time with your spouse. Perhaps in the short time before bed or in the early morning hours or an evening at home while the kids sleep.
When you talk to your spouse, do not forget to be kind, to be loving, to be open and vulnerable. Explain what you are thinking and tell your spouse why. In detail. Literally, word for word. I know this yet I so often forget it and then become upset with DH. Why should you do this? Men and women think differently. I can see that in our sons even. You need to spell out exactly what you want done and why you want it done. Or else it may not get done (and it still may not because they think what you think is crazy or they do not see the point - ahem, putting dirty clothes in the laundry instead of scattered on the floor).
Arguments, miscommunication, whatever you want to call it - it's going to happen. Do not argue in front of the children. I am sure we all have memories of our parents arguing at some point (some more than others). Did we like seeing that? Do we like remembering that? No. Even now, my in-laws argue and nitpick in front of us and it really bothers my DH (I find it very annoying as well). So do not do it, no matter how old your kids are. Instead, work it out, alone. Wait until the kids are in bed if need be and do not let the sun go down of your anger. Talk it out and remember that "a mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) On the other hand, do not forget or be afraid to show signs of love between one another in front of your children.
Our ultimate goal in the sacrament of marriage is to help one another achieve holiness and eventually Heaven when we die as well as welcoming and educating the children the Lord blesses us with. True love is not self-seeking. Rather, it is a sacrifice we make, to lay down our life for our spouse. Look to the Holy Family as an example. Are you like Mary in serving her Son and husband? God will give us grace to grow in love and holiness with our spouses. God will always be there to help us. All we need to do is ask for more in prayer.
And don't forget... humor. We need to remember to laugh. "Life together is a challenge, but humor makes the difficulties easier to bear." So true. (Quote from the author of the study.)