You run your show. You bring home the bacon. You’re the one wearing the pants… and the BOTH of you know it. But, lately, things haven’t been easy. There’s been tension in the air, things left unsaid, household responsibilities left undone, and outside of talking about bills, birthdays, and chores, there hasn’t been much to say… that won’t bite you in the butt later.
Can you relate to that scenario?
How you deal with marital stress will determine a great deal about how the rest of your marriage goes. Stress is nothing new nor is it unique to the woman breadwinner but how it shows up in the marriage has a lot to do with who’s wearing the proverbial pants… and who is not. Even though you signed up for this (and sometimes you didn’t), there may be parts of you wondering, “Why am I the one with all of this financial pressure?” or “Why can’t I take it easy, pursue my dreams, and have the lighter load?” The moment you start feeling like this, guess what? You’re in a particular phase of marriage that ALL married couples go through. It’s called the devaluation stage. Rather than give in to it and begin looking for the exit door, own up to it, get familiar with it, and find your way to a better place WITH your spouse by your side.
The question becomes:
“How do I do that when I spend most of my time nagging my spouse to do things he KNOWS he’s supposed to be doing?”
Here are 3 simple steps to cultivating marital peace (esp. when it’s the last thing you feel like doing):
Step 1: Do a Spouse Appraisal. Yup, appraise him. Just like you would a house. In other words, detach from the emotional upheaval that your dissatisfaction, nagging, and anxiety have caused, take a step back, pull out a pen and paper, and spend 3-7 days observing your spouse. In your notebook, answer the following questions:
1) What did my spouse do today that pleased me?
2) What did my spouse do today that annoyed me?
3) How did my spouse help in our household today?
4) What did my spouse forget or not do today in our household that really needed to be done TODAY?
5) What did I love most about how he behaved today?
6) What bugged me most about how he behaved today?
At the end of each day’s observation, compare your responses and see if there’s more good than bad. Ask yourself, “How did my mood, my day, and my thoughts impact how I evaluated my spouse?” and write down those answers as well.
Step 2: Comparison shop. This is a fabulous notion discussed by Sharyn Wolf in her book, ” This Old Spouse.” In other words, when you get fed up with your spouse, think seriously about the grass you think is greener on the other side. Look at your friends’ marriages and your divorced friends’ dating lives and ask yourself the following questions:
- Would I want to have THEIR marital problems in place of mine?
- Is that grass really greener… or is it turf?
- What lessons am I learning in this marriage that, if I don’t get here, I’ll simply take with me to the next relationship?
- Would I really be happier without my husband or am I making MY happiness his responsibility? Is that fair?
Step 3: Identify your REAL needs and ask to have them met.
This is a two-part step.
Part 1: Identify your REAL needs. When you’re nagging your spouse, what is it that you REALLY want? Do you want to be heard? Do you want to be seen? Do you want your spouse to show his care and affection by jumping up in that minute and taking care of the laundry or the garbage or whatever else you’re asking him to do? What is the emotion or the desire that you have underneath the discussion you seem to keep having? Once you get clear on your needs, you’ll better communicate them to your spouse.
Part 2: Ask to have your needs met. Not demand. Not order. Not control. When you’re in a loving mood (keep in mind that loving is your natural state and you can get into that mood at any moment you choose; just watch a cute kitten video on You Tube and tell me if I’m wrong), sit down with your spouse, look him deeply in the eyes, caress his face, and lovingly ask for what you need WITHOUT expecting that he jump up in that second to prove his love by getting it done in that minute. Ask, trust that it will get done, and move on to the next thing. You’d be surprised how trust (of the self and your spouse) mixed with affection and love do the trick EVERY time.
Now I have a couple questions for you…
Knowing these 3 tips can save your peace of mind. Taking action on these 3 steps TODAY will change your life.
Having read this post, what steps will you take to get marital peace?
Which of the 3 steps resonated with you most and what do you plan to do about what you’ve learned here?
Reveal what you plan to do in the comments below. I’m always checking and commenting 🙂