“Stop calling me a heartless man”
That was Alexis’s last straw when my attempts to guilt trip him incited his anger. Before this eruption happened, Alexis suggested throwing out everything that didn’t spark joy as he grew tired of the clutter in the home.
Being more sentimental and admittedly the hoarder between us, I found it hard to let go of many things, especially items that may well serve those just in case moments.
In my mind, I pictured myself throwing up both hands, and retorting, “But you are heartless!” If this scene did play out in real life, a war of words with escalating voices would be exchanged in the heat of the moment. So I bit my tongue and kept silent.
Marriage doesn’t get easier with time
You would have imagined that having lived together for 13 years, our living habits would be more in sync, complimenting each other in perfect harmony.
Instead, I’m resigned to believe that we will always live with differences and perhaps that’s the way it will be until forever and ever, Amen.
When we got married, we got together with our eyes wide open. That means knowing each other’s strengths and flaws and accepting that they come as the whole package.
So why do we assume that our partners need to change and conform to be like us?
Going from a C to A Marriage
Even though we are married to our partners whom we’ll go to the ends of the world for, most of us are still very me-centred. Over the years, I’ve learnt that if I want a Christ-centred marriage, I have to “die to myself” every single day.
My husband is not perfect but neither am I. So how can we take our marriage a notch higher and move from C to A?
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
From complaining to accepting
Instead of complaining, I’ve learnt to accept our differences. I’ve learnt to accept that God uniquely designed and fashioned us. And frankly life would be boring if we were all cookie cutter made.
The person that we are is an accumulation of our upbringing, personality, gender, life experiences, and neither of us is better than the other in our relationship. When we accept that differences in a relationship is the spice of life, we will have a different perspectives about the need to change our spouse. .
A practical approach is to express what you want your spouse to do instead of complaining about it.
- Honey, please remember to turn off the lights when you come out of the kitchen.
- I know you prefer to stay home, but this family gathering is important to me. Can you accompany me to it.
- I can see that you are busy, but I would appreciate if you can make time to tidy up the house this weekend.
From criticising to appreciating
Having a thriving marriage goes beyond merely accepting our differences and feeling like we have to tolerate each other. If I’m still harbouring resentment, I will always find myself in a never ending cycle of frustration.
The moment I find myself on the verge of saying unkind words, I pause and think about all the things I appreciate about Alexis. Depending on how mad I am, sometimes the list can be very very short and I’ll need to focus on those points and remind myself why I married him in the first place.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
And you know what, even though our husbands don’t say it, they need affirmations just like us. Compliment him opening and show your appreciation for your spouse. I often joke with Alexis that I always sing praises of him on my blog and I need more compliments from him too.
From comparing to adjusting
While it’s one thing to accept our spouse for who they are, I feel that personal sacrifices or what I call dying to self is also needed.
I change because I love my husband and I endeavour to be a better wife to him. As a couple, we are one and no longer live separate lives. While there may be times when living out that oneness becomes trying, we are not without help. Only when we submit ourselves and our marriage to God, can He bring about a lasting change in us that is rooted in love.
Even though I’m happy living with organised chaos, it’s undeniable that living in a more organised home gives a sense of order and calmness. So, I try my best to lean in and change and keeping the home neat. It may not match Alexis’s expectations but he sees that I’m doing my best and gives me props for that.
While I may have called Alexis a heartless man, I am warming up to the beauty of minimalism because we simply own too much stuffs. As I learn to let go of clutter, there is a new lightness in my spirit. My heart now finds contentment with lesser things to distract me from what matters most.
Reading this book together as a couple, The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker was also life changing. I strongly encourage everyone to read it to redefine what truly brings value in your life. It’s available as an E-book from the NLB too.
Work at your differences together
Regardless of where you are in your marriages, whether you are a courting couple, newly weds or even empty-nesters, conflicts are bound to happen. Overcoming them may take a lifetime because we are all unique. But remembering to accept, appreciate and adjust will put us in good stead for a happier, stronger and more fulfilling marriage.
If you enjoyed this post, you may like these posts where I share my heart about marriage and relationship.
- The day my husband asked for my forgiveness
- Why date nights and couple trips matter for parents
- Why it’s okay to go to bed angry
- Dear hubby, let’s make time for us
- Why I’m happily married to my boring husband