Well lovelies, 2014 is here. And honestly, for me, it got off to quite a rough start. My plate is full overflowing with responsibility, commitments, and to-dos. But my heart is also full. As I sit here on the forefront of the new year, I have been giving a lot of thought to what is next for me, my family and my marriage. Last year, I learned some valuable lessons about life and love. And in an effort to make my marriage stronger, I began to put them into practice. The end result wasn’t a perfect marriage, but it’s one filled with more love, more respect and a deeper appreciation for one another. We are growing, and, thankfully, we are growing closer. This year I plan to continue to work on me, my marriage, and ultimately striving to love my husband better. Here’s how:
Ways I Plan to Love My Husband Better This Year 1 of 16
Learn how I plan to love my husband better in 2014.
Continue to be mindful of his love language 2 of 16
Last year was the year I learned a few more lessons on love and marriage. I finally jumped on the bandwagon and read a book on love languages. In fact, I read it in two days. As I read through the pages and reflected on the words, it was almost as if a light turned on. Oftentimes, we show our spouses love in the way we want to be loved, but what if that isn't their love language? What if your spouse feels love through words of affirmation, while for you it is through touch? Becoming more aware of my husband's love language has helped make our relationship stronger. And, the more you practice speaking a (new/different) language, the more natural it becomes. Eventually it becomes second nature.
Be slower to speak and ready to listen 3 of 16
There are times when I do an awful lot of talking. The days when I am exhausted and my fuse is short, I don't ask why. I just assume or voice my frustration. I need to learn to ask or simply be quiet. So my husband said he would be home by 6 and pick up groceries on the way. It's 6:30 when he walks through the door, and here I am annoyed. The kids are all over the place, and I still have yet to shower. I feel inhuman. And I'm ready to let him have it as soon as he comes through the door. As I get ready to give him the side eye, I realize that he stopped to bring me home a boba milk tea. Just because. And inside I feel so stupid. Sometimes we are so quick to react.
Say "yes" more 4 of 16
I've expressed many times that I want to have more quality time with my husband. More dates and more alone time. Along with that comes saying yes more. There are times when I am tired and don't want to get up. He will ask me if I want to go on a date, and I will say no because I'm tired or want to catch up on work. The thing is, I don't want him to stop asking. I want him to love going places with me and spending quality time with me. And I want us to continue to grow closer together, which means I better start saying "yes" more often.
Be OK with memories made with just the two of us 5 of 16
I know it may seem odd, but I have a hard time making memories without my kids. I can't fathom going to a fun museum or traveling someplace and not taking them. I find myself thinking of all of the things they can do too, all of the memories that can be made with the four of us. I even feel guilty if I have fun and they aren't with me. I am learning to not feel guilty for making memories with my husband. I am learning that it's OK with my husband, and that being without the kids doesn't have to prevent us from making memories as a family of four too. Family adventures are my favorite, but my husband and I need to have a chance to recharge and reconnect — just the two of us. I know it will be good for our marriage and for our family as a whole.
Be more open to his perspective 6 of 16
I am notorious for asking my husband for his opinion or asking him what I should do and doing the complete opposite. Sometimes it helps me just to be able to talk things out. And sometimes I do take his advice into account. But there's the part of me that, despite what I say, isn't always open to trying new ways of dealing with stuff. This has become increasingly evident in the realm of parenting. Despite having raised a child before as a single parent, I am not an expert when it comes to parenting. There have been times when my husband has suggested I try something to make my days easier. Often I will respond by suggesting that it simply won't work. But how do I know?
This year I have resolved to relinquish some control and be more open to trying new ways of handling situations. We are a team. And last year we got better at working as one. I hope to continue that this year.
Take better care of myself 7 of 16
Taking care of myself is a form of loving my husband. The other day, my husband told me I reminded him of the guy on the Snickers commercial when I don't eat. He stated that I'm a completely different person. And he's right. When I go too long without eating, I get agitated and irritable, but I'll delay eating in order to run one more errand or finish something I'm working on. For some reason, I've decided that when it comes to me and my own needs, I can wait. But my lack of self-care doesn't just impact me, it impacts my family. When I'm cranky, I'm no fun to be around.
Believe him 8 of 16
So often I ask my husband what he thinks, and when he tells me, I suggest that he is just telling me what I want to hear. And boy, does it annoy him. When he tells me something, I need to trust that he is being honest. I need to remember that he has never given me a reason to doubt him or question his word. If my guy says I look good in my new jeans, then darn it, I look good!
More small talk 9 of 16
As life has become more complex and laden with responsibility, the small talk has become more infrequent. I want to bring back more of the simple conversations. The ones where we talk about our days. The ones where I ask him how he is doing. Conversations that aren't about what we need to do, the appointments and the projects and plans. Conversations about the ice cream shop I stumbled upon and can't wait to take him to, or the funny thing our daughter did while he was at work, or how beautiful the weather was today.
Greet him 10 of 16
I have a habit of calling my husband and jumping into the conversation before even saying hello. I want to get better at acknowledging my husband. Not just when I call him, but when he comes home. Saying hello before I hand off the baby and make a beeline for the bathroom. Greeting him before I start venting or divulging my gameplan for taking on the to-do list.
Cheer him on even more 11 of 16
My husband knows I've got his back. But sometimes I can use some improvement on how I show that. It's one thing to say I support his decision to go to school only to groan when he has to stay up and work on a project resulting in less time for me to work. It's another thing to smile and let him know that I'm just down the hall if he needs me. To remind him that he can do this and that I will be here to support him and cheer him on every step of the way.
Continue to ask for what I want and need 12 of 16
How many disagreements have ended in, "What do you want me to do?" What if I simply asked for what I needed before it got to that point? What if I told my husband I need to take a nap or I need to go for a walk? Or that my plate is full and I need his help?
At the same time, I want to make more of an effort to check in with my husband and ask him what he wants or needs. How can I help you more? Is there anything I can do to help you feel more supported? I want him to always feel like I've got his back.
Stop comparing 13 of 16
My friend Michelle has written about the comparison trap. I've fallen into it when it has come to parenting and even my career. But since we're being transparent and all, I've also fallen into it when it has come to my marriage. Reading Facebook statuses filled with romantic gestures done by husbands. Couples sitting side by side happily in church (meanwhile I'm praying on the inside and asking for forgiveness because I had some not-so-nice thoughts on the drive to church). Those couples that seem to have it all together, you know, the ones that agree on everything and the husbands actually like shopping with their wives :). The ones who never argue and especially not in front of their kids. Everything seemingly falling into place perfectly for them. But not us.
The thing is we don't know someone's story simply by reading their Facebook status or even a blog post. We don't live their life. We don't know the work involved in getting to where they are now. We know what they share. I need to be focused on loving my husband with everything I've got and being the best wife I can be. I need to be mindful of the fact that he is giving our marriage his all just as I am. We need to be striving to meet our own standards of what a healthy marriage is rather than striving to reach someone else's standards.
Be a tad less senstive 14 of 16
When someone is super sensitive, sometimes it can be hard to say what you really want to say to them. You don't want them to get upset or angry, or feel hurt. There are times when my husband has struggled to tell me something because of the response he would get. I might get mad, cry, mope, or take it out of context. I want to work on being better about accepting feedback. If I want my husband to be able to tell me anything, I need to create an environment in which he knows that it is safe to do so. Yes, you can tell me that I acted immature and no I won't give you the silent treatment when you do.
Go to bed angry 15 of 16
I have come to accept the fact that sometimes going to bed angry is the best thing to do. Sometimes it isn't a good idea to talk things out, at least not right away anyway. Sometimes going to bed can work wonders, causing both parties to calm down and wake up with a fresh perspective. The same with taking a "time out." Sometimes you need to remove yourself from the situation. It doesn't mean you don't care or you are running away. If anything, it shows maturity.
Be more proactive when it comes to my own happiness 16 of 16
There are times when I've looked to my husband to fix things, times when I have struggled with where I am in my life — in limbo between being content and longing for more. I have to remember that while my husband wants to make me happy, I am responsible for my happiness, not him.
My colleague wrote a beautiful post about this very thing. This year, I want to figure some things out, do some ree-valuating, and figure out what is next for me. To get back to the place where I am able to find joy outside of parenting and being a wife. Somewhere along the way, I feel like I've gotten a little off course. My husband can't fix everything (and there are times when I don't even want him to try, I simply want him to listen), and I need to not put so much pressure on him when it comes to my happiness.
Many of these are things I’ve expressed a desire to do in the past, but because there is always room for improvement, I’m even more committed to loving my husband better in 2014.