So, you are frustrated with your husband or wife. Annoyed. Bugged. Upset. Again. You’ve admitted to yourself that there are tons of things you don’t like about your spouse.
You’re discouraged. You don’t want to feel this way, but it seems like your spouse keeps doing things that annoy you, or frustrate you, or hurt your feelings. You don’t feel as close to your spouse as you used to. You’re starting to think that if things don’t change, you’ll be stuck in a dying, distant marriage forever.
Be encouraged – you are not alone. Marriage is hard. For everyone. But that’s okay. We don’t have to run away from hard. We don’t have to run away from stress. We don’t have to run away from annoying. We don’t have to run away when things don’t go our way.
You see, living with a spouse isn’t easy. Yet, it’s beautiful because of what it does for us. It requires the very best of us. It tests us and tries us and refines us and makes us better people – if we choose to let it. And it causes love to grow. You are creating family here. Family – the people who are stuck with you (or choose to stick with YOU) through thick and thin, right? The people who know everything about you and still kind of like you (or LOVE you).
So, you may have rough days where your spouse drives you batty and you realize that they aren’t meeting your expectations for a spouse by any means. Is that means for a fight? For criticism? For divorce? Simply because your spouse isn’t who YOU want them to be, or because they aren’t doing things the way YOU wish they would?
I don’t think so.
It’s pretty easy to find faults in others, even without realizing we are doing it. Scary, I know. So, if you have found yourself creating a laundry list of things you don’t like about your spouse, stop it. Right now. And try one of the following four options to help you like your spouse more. These four suggestions are time-tested principles that are proven to help you not just endure your marriage, but to actually enjoy your marriage.
1. Lower your expectations. Do it.
Your spouse isn’t perfect. You aren’t either. So get over all their imperfections and love them for who they are.** Marriage is about unconditional love. The world would tell you that if your spouse bugs you that you should seek for what you want and need elsewhere…but guess what? You won’t find it.
Why? Because people are human. And once you marry someone and live in their space day-in and day-out, it doesn’t take long for their human-side to show through.
So, get over it.
Embrace imperfection and realize that change and progress are possible. And that is pretty good news. Instead of focusing on all the things your spouse is doing wrong, put on your rose-colored glasses and make it a priority to find the good in that sweet spouse of yours and to focus on it.
**This obviously doesn’t apply if you are in an abusive relationship. If so, we urge you to seek professional or ecclesiastical help.
2. Find the good – there is plenty of it.
Easier said than done, right? It’s just not natural to focus on all the good things our spouse does, you say. However, perhaps it can become natural if we work at it and make it a habit – part of who we are.
If you are struggling to come up with good things about your spouse, then start a list. Keep a list on your phone. Do it. It sounds tacky and idealistic, but it will help. Especially on those nights when you are pretty sure that you have the worst spouse ever (exaggeration of course, but you have had those nasty feelings sometimes, and you don’t like them).
I challenge you. Find the good in your spouse. It’s there. It’s always been there. The thing is, is that you have allowed the stressors of life to cause you to focus too much and too often on what your spouse does wrong instead of what he or she does right.
Find the good. You fell in your love with your spouse. You chose your spouse. They haven’t changed much from when you knew and loved and adored everything about them. You say love is blind, and maybe it is. So maybe that is your answer – love more. Love more.
3. Talk about change in respectful ways.
There are definitely some things that ought to be talked about – things that really need to change. However, the key is to approach these “talks,” in a kind, respectful way. And to not let them turn into a yell-fest of things you hate about each other. That would be bad. Like, really bad.
So, read this article about communication and find a savvy way to tell your husband that the socks on the ground thing just kills you, or to tell your wife that you both need to reign in the spending (that would be a soft way to put it, and including yourself would make your wife feel much, much better).
4. Be the kind of spouse you would want to be married to.
Seriously. This may be the best answer I have for you.
Changing yourself is all you can really do. You can choose how you will think, feel, and act towards, and to, your spouse.
So commit to be better. Commit to be kind. Commit to love unconditionally. Commit to be your very best version of yourself for your spouse to live with. Your attitude and actions can save your marriage from going down the wrong road. You’ve got this.