A few weeks ago my husband and I attended a conference called The Art of Marriage presented by Family Life. We felt pretty good about ourselves until a few sore spots from the past showed themselves and we were given the opportunity to feel, talk and, once again, give and receive the healing gift of grace. Marriage needs maintenance and this was one way for us to keep “the old truck” in working order. This conference reminded me of some advice I received years ago concerning how to make our marriage better. My husband and I have attended a few marriage classes and conferences (like the one mentioned above) where suggestions abound to a captive audience. Not much of the specifics stand out to me today, although I am sure they have added to our marriage as a whole. But there are two specific pieces of advice that I remember getting and who gave them to me. They were game changers, really. Simple little words spoken as "advice" but they made a sizable difference in my expectations in my relationship with my husband.
I recall sitting next to our pastor's wife in a Sunday school class. We had been married probably 6 or 7 years at the time. The topic of the class has been long forgotten but the few simple words from an older, very soft -spoken pastor's wife have stuck in my memory. She leaned over to me and said, "The best thing you can do for your marriage is to have good close girlfriends. Your husband has never been a woman and he never will be. So be sure to develop those friendships. Your marriage will be happier and stronger if you do."
I think I was surprised that she thought this was the "best thing" I could do for my marriage. She might have listed things like: praying together, going to church, going to marriage conferences, having fun, talking and listening well, being intentional about date nights or keeping intimacy an important part of your relationship. All these things certainly ARE very important. But she offered this one bit as a top priority.
I have certainly loved my girlfriends and am delighted that time spent with them is not only good for me, it is good for my marriage. My husband has always understood this and has affirmed me in developing and maintaining these relationships.
There was another time when a bit of advice stuck in this foggy brain of mine that has also helped me to be more satisfied in my marriage. This came from a dear friend who also happened to be a family and marriage therapist. Whenever she talked I certainly listened and one day, in the midst of a conversation she said to me, "Your husband is not a mind reader. You need to tell him what you need." Oh really! Like if I want him to hug me, I walk across the room and hug him? If I need an apology I gently let him know that this would be a good time for one? If I need him to tell me that I look nice and he doesn't quite remember my need to be affirmed in this way, I ask him to help me out? Yes...and with a good attitude with a gentle spirit. This is not done in a demanding or demeaning way. It is simply realizing that my needs are important and sometimes my husband just isn't going to realize how to love me the way I need to be loved in every given moment. So I can speak up for myself. Hey, he's my best guy friend and I'm sure he'd want to know! It has worked well for us.
One more thing I need to say. My husband is the best ever and there are many times that he sees and does what is needed. But sometimes he doesn't. It's OK to ask for his help and he is always so ready to please when treated respectfully and honorably.
These little bits of advice from two strong godly women/wives have helped my husband and I have a closer friendship. After 34 1/2 years we are still committed and working to maintain a good strong relationship.
I just heard that this is National Marriage Week. Have you been given advice that made a difference in your marriage? I'd love to hear it. Then go give that spouse of yours a big hug…you’ll love the hug you get back.