29 April 2011

The #1 Tip for Keeping Your Marriage Marvelous

Dear Lissy,
You rose early with me this morning to watch the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  Your girlish heart -- and mine! -- delighted in all the beautiful hats and the exquisite lace gown worn by the bride. We enjoyed a four course British breakfast (Orange Juice & Tea, Porridge, "Fry-Up", and Toast & Jam) as the pomp and circumstance played out before us.  It seemed like we waited an hour for the iconic "Balcony Kiss", and you wriggled in excitement the entire time.
When the time for your own wedding comes you will have several weeks of counseling with your pastor or a trusted friend to prepare your heart and mind for your biblical role as a wife.  It's vitally important to build your marriage according to God's Word on the foundation of your faith in Christ.  But there are also some simple, practical truths that help a marriage function well.  Today's letter is going to focus on the single most important advice we ever received:

Express Your Expectations!

The #1 source of conflict in marriage is unexpressed expectations.  
It isn't fair, but it's true.  We expect our partner to instinctively know what we want and make the choice to honor those desires 100% of the time.  Very often the one offending isn't even aware they've done anything wrong until they're attacked.  They lash back in disbelief, and the battle begins.

Expectations are best expressed as questions or simple unemotional statements.
"I've had a long day, too.  Would you be willing to help me clean up dinner tonight?" honors your husband and still expresses your expectation.
"I'd like to go out to eat for Mother's Day" or "Could we go out to eat on Mother's Day?" will prevent you from an afternoon of martyrdom as you prepare a meal feeling under-appreciated.
"I'll need some help carrying everything out to the car today" or "Could you grab the diaper bag and pack-n-play?" is a far better choice than loading yourself up like a sherpa while he sails out the door with a travel mug.

Expectations can be expressed through a mutually agreed upon signal.
Whether it's a hand on the small of your back and a kiss behind the ear to signal it's time to leave the in-laws, or a special pillow on the bed when one of you is hoping for an evening of romance, unspoken signals that are agreed upon ahead of time can save embarrassment and hurt feelings.

Expressing your expectations isn't just for marriages, either.  That habit is the cornerstone of any strong, long-term relationship.  Keep this maxim in mind whenever you're communicating with a roommate, a friend, an employer or employees, or even your children, and you'll save yourself a world of interpersonal conflict and heartache.

Loved snuggling with you this mornin',

1 comment:

  1. One of the most important things I learned early on in my marriage is that no one can read my mind so I needed to just let him know what I expected. Not demanding of course but subtly and now he pretty much knows me. Saved a lot of hurt feeling and misunderstandings.