7 Ways to Be a Good Spouse (At Bad Times)

couple-simpatico

In November Spencer and I celebrated our two-year anniversary, and the retrospective portion of that was a lot different than the year prior. They can have 2016, it was rough for us. I had sat down then and tried to write a reflective post, but it just was not coming together. It was hard to sort through everything and make it interesting and upbeat. Right now I’m in a unicorn phase where I am obsessed with my husband and what he’s doing and wearing and he can’t get in a fight with me, so I wouldn’t want to convey otherwise. I decided that better than describing what BS we went through, I would skip straight to the lessons I learned from it.

  1. Be still as things neither you nor your spouse have control over frustrate the crap out of you.

The Army is number one for putting couples in the position of complete inconvenience with no one to hold accountable. When Spencer made it home from being dropped from Ranger School for no good reason, we had problems. This was January. He was getting moved to a different Division because of it and I was stressed about coming up on a year of unemployment. It was tense in our house for the first time. Then this summer, I was working full time and he was trying to deal with lack of job satisfaction and things got tense in a different way. Six months later I’m working from home, he’s working a different detail and the most tension we seem to experience is when he steps in water I didn’t dry up after refilling the Brita. I am saying that circumstances change, and don’t expect the issues or patches you are going through for a time to be your forever.

  1. State your grievances as clearly as possible and provide detailed instructions to help your spouse stop pissing you off, while maintaining an optimistic attitude.

This past year was one of transition. I was disappointed that it was not intuitive for Spencer to decide to sweep once he saw food piled under the cabinets. Unfortunately I conveyed my exasperation when I asked for his help, which offended him because I was in effect punishing him for something he had no clue was an expectation. This situation reiterated in many different forms. My advice to anyone would be to state your complaint and solution calmly and in good faith. If your request is not received after attempts on three separate occasions, feel free to pop off.

  1. Reevaluate your priorities to determine if the expectations that are stressing you really need to be on your list.

I tried to keep my house as clean as it had been before I started working 40 hours a week. I was wearing myself out going to the gym, cooking, going to work, and then coming home to spend all my free time cleaning at a snail’s pace because I was tired. I had to let go of my expectations for a clean kitchen. I had maintained certain standards because I felt those were my duties, but my husband wasn’t helping out without being asked because those were not things he cared about. I had the choice to let it be something I cared less about. On the other end of this, if you still care about something like the house being really clean, consider hiring someone to help you and alleviate some stress in your life. Yes, I know people can’t afford stuff like that and suggesting it makes me sound high maintenance, which I am.

  1. Find someone else to talk to.

My husband is not a talkative person, but I don’t think his reticence excuses him from having a conversation with me about my day or whatever is affecting me at the moment. Regardless of what his skills were, a listening face is what I needed in those moments and as a consequence, his inability to provide that was another fault added to my list. My advice to others is to again moderate your expectations of the other person, and figure out if you really need to talk or if you really want attention. There are ways to get attention without requiring him to be an excellent active listener when he is stressed too. If you really need to talk, recruit a friend and don’t let your spouse frustrate you by not being eager. Counselors are great for an opportunity to talk through something. Unfortunately I was unable to see mine at that time because of said job.

  1. Keep doing it (SEX).

I can’t make a list about being a good spouse without speaking on sex. This isn’t anything I learned from the past year, but it is important to keep viewing the sex as an aspect of the marriage to be maintained. It is easy not to be interested in sex when there are issues, but neglecting it will only make things worse. Requiring no words, sex may be the only way you communicate that is the same language. Sex helps to relieve stress and to reconnect as one.

  1. Keep it legal.

Don’t be looking to any other person or thing to fulfill the needs that should be met by your spouse. I know I just said to talk to someone else, but that’s for when you need to work through something. Don’t turn to another bank account to make you feel secure, or another man to make you feel desired, or even worse, vices to get you through. Things like those feel like remedies but rob the oneness of your marriage. Stay focused, and keep working at being the right person and helping your spouse be the right person.

  1. Pray for yourself and your spouse/Pursue personal development.

I think back over the struggles and still have trouble finding solutions other than what I chose in the moment. The only thing I can really pinpoint is that I should have committed to praying for myself and my spouse and fasted to really petition God for help. The solutions I came up with weren’t anywhere close to that, ie: not cooking for a week. I know everyone is not a Christian, so my advice is to be invested in your own well-being to center yourself for dealing with what comes and do the same for your spouse.

Being newlyweds, this year was the first time I had encountered a ‘system error’ in my marriage. As things changed, I wondered if things had always been off and I was just now becoming disillusioned. I found myself saying to my spouse “It’s like you don’t understand that marriages can end,” when I was fighting with him to do the work it takes to maintain ‘us.’ No, divorce never crossed my mind; we weren’t anywhere near that, but since I didn’t realize we were going through a trial, I felt we might be in the early stages of demise. I now know THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And, it takes time to grow and gains skills from new challenges. Be faithful  be steadfast in the work it takes and you will come out on the other side, holding hands, still leeching Netflix from your parents on a rainy day, simpatico once again.

2 thoughts on “7 Ways to Be a Good Spouse (At Bad Times)

  1. This is a sweet post and I hope you can keep track of it to look at a few years down the road, see how your advice changes as you get older and experience more and different challenges. I remember back in *high school* you saying something about being proactive — you have always been a go-getter. Keep on keeping on. 🙂

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