Often times in the workplace I’ll hear conversations that make me feel sorry for the individual talking, but also sorry for their spouse. I immediately will remove myself from those settings because they’re often negative and upsetting to me. Sadly enough, it’s common everywhere I go and across all types of individuals, male or female. The dialogues are all essentially the same: the spouse cutting down something their partner did, making fun of their habits or individual traits, or simply venting frustration at the changes they feel their spouse needs to make. This saddens me because if I knew that my husband was talking the same way about me to others it would hurt me deeply. Even what may seem like light-hearted banter can cut someone to the core even though they disguise their hurt.
Similarly with positive affections or displays of tenderness, the lack of them can also cause hurtful feelings or resentment. I’ve seen couples where one spouse seems to completely ignore the other when it comes to even simple affections, like holding hands. They are too focused on something else that the reciprocation of any feelings towards one another is nonexistent. This lack can drive a wedge in the middle of a happy marriage relationship just as much as the former negative placements.
The marriage relationship is like a coin, two-sided, but inescapably connected. This connection can become positive or negative based upon how we treat it. Obviously, everyone knows this. But do we really take the time to consider it in reality? Think: are my actions and words I use towards or about my spouse what I would want for myself? Easily the golden rule applies. But also like a coin, both sides have to work together in order to create and keep the value. If one side of the coin (relationship) always insists that they are the “head” and the other is in the wrong, then the balance of each side is not even.
I once heard about a family moment between a granddaughter and her grandfather on some marriage advice. The granddaughter had been recently married and was asking her beloved grandfather what he felt was the most important thing in order to make a marriage relationship successful. He reverently and yet firmly said, “You must be unselfish.” I haven’t forgotten that exchange even though I cannot remember who the individuals were.
We MUST be unselfish
Thinking back on those harmful discussions I’ve overheard—every single time, the person talking was exhibiting selfish behavior. It makes me wonder: what has happened to the good in their marriage? Why haven’t I heard a positive thing about their spouse? It’s because they are seeking the “head” of the connection that in fact does not exist. No two-sided coin can be unequally balanced in order to keep its value. No joint marriage relationship can be successful if one partner or even both try to out-weigh the other by placing themselves in the better light.
I recently had a discussion with a mother and she expressed to me how for years she had been resentful of her husband in a few ways because of things he didn’t do for her, even though their marriage had always been strong and healthy. She hid the frustration and her husband probably didn’t even know of her feelings. But then she realized over time of all the other things that her husband did do, that her feelings were unwarranted, and her resentment dissolved. He eventually started doing those things he hadn’t done before because that silent tension was gone and their connection was stronger for him to realize how he could help more. Her change in selfish behavior reflected back to him and he reciprocated without even knowing it.
We all have moments of selfish thoughts that we can choose to lead to further actions or choices. At times I’ll have a bad day or won’t be feeling well and I’ll have a wasteful battle of thoughts in my mind about my marriage. But in the end, I try to focus on the selfless things that my husband does for me every single day: he takes care of our son when I’m working, he always unloads the dishwasher, I have never had to mow the lawn or water the yard, he takes care of our dog and cleans up after him, he always insists on having a kiss goodnight or at least one hug somewhere through the day. From this I try to resolve my thoughts into positive energy and waste them no more on what the adversary may try to drive against me.
I want my marriage to have its greatest value by living in a manner that keeps my spouse and me equal in our relationship. He deserves that and it also does myself a service by not allowing myself to waste time, energy, and emotions in harmful energy. What can you do to be more selfless in your marriage?