It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I write a post, and then you all chime in by linking up your own marriage posts to the Linky below!
Today we have a guest post from Rajdeep Paulus, a YA author who blogs at In Search of Waterfalls. She’s sharing with us about how her husband helped her low self-esteem–and helped her overcome her insecurity about her relationship.
When we first tied the knot, I walked nearly every step with insecurity. Jealous, afraid, and constantly putting myself down. In fact, whenever an argument ensued, even about the silliest thing like dishes or socks on the floor, I quickly resorted to digging a grave. My grave. With words like, “It’s all my fault. I should have asked you nicely. (Or my personal favorite.) I’m always wrong. I’m the screwed up one, so I’ll just go over to my little corner and throw me another pity party. Last one was five minutes ago, but who’s counting.”
Life in those newlywed days wasn’t too different from a scene out of a bad sitcom. When one dish fell to the ground with a crash, I would throw the rest down, metaphorically-speaking. Something about the din of breaking glass dulled my pain and masked the deeper issues. I believed lies about myself that pushed me into a cave so deep within myself, I had no idea how to get out and to be honest, I think I kind of liked my cave. The comfort of the familiar mess I lived in seemed like a safe place to sit and hurt.
But then you get married and now your cave is his cave and if you hurt, he hurts too. And the truth is, unless you let each other into those deep places, you live in a lonely place while you live with someone. And that has got to be one of the saddest states to be in. Together. And alone.
For the record, I didn’t grow up in an abusive home. I didn’t experience any major trauma in my upbringing. There’s no moment I can point to and say, there, that’s where this warped thinking started. And something tells me I’m not alone. A lot of us struggle with a healthy view of ourselves and no matter how many times someone says to you, ‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” you still don’t believe it.
So my FIVE tips on how to help your Spouse’s Self Esteem are not out of a Psychology book or a Ten Steps guide.
It’s from my life. A work still in progress.
1. Repeat truths, every night, to counteract the lies of insecurity.
I am totally serious about this. Hubs used to have me say, “I’m beautiful and God made me beautiful so I’m beautiful” 3X every night. No joke. At first, I’d choke on the words with tears, because I just knew they weren’t true. Over time, I began to believe them. Now, fifteen years later, ask me to say them, and I’ll shout’em from the rooftop. You better believe they’re true.
2. Take care of your body and your health in general.
It doesn’t matter whether you work out together or apart, but exercise and make good food choices. I’m not talking about constant dieting or trying to work your body into a size that it’s not meant for. But the truth is, certain foods really do trigger depressing thoughts and when you do take care of your body, you feel prettier, more confident and all around more comfortable in your own skin. Yes, it’s an investment. Of time and money (if you join a gym) and it takes discipline. But you’ll be so thankful for the results, the internal ones so much more than the exterior.
3. Spend time with other friends, and don’t make your marriage the only source of your emotional fulfillment.
Girlfriend time is what I’m referring to. Or sports night out for guys type of thing. If you rely on your hubby to meet all your social needs, you’ll wear him out. And you’ll be gravely disappointed. Our spouses are not meant to be our all in all. They’re only human, after all.
4. Spend time with God and nurture your spiritual health.
Some people might shy away from this because they didn’t grow up with religion or had too much religion forced on them so they’re done. Maxed out and filled to the brim with all that mumbo jumbo. Well, I challenge you to find yourself the place where you do it for you. Read a psalm. Listen to a song with lyrics that tell you the truth. Pray for someone who is hurting in your life. And ask God, not the mirror, mirror on the wall, the truth about you. Fill your head and heart with truth and over time, the lies will fade. I really believe they will.
5. Spend intentional time together where you’re not distracted by work, kids, finances, and stress.
In other words, date as a couple. It’s not easy. But who ever promised that marriage would be easy. And take turns planning. It helps the planner to get a break and the other spouse to initiate. And when one spouse initiates a date night, it speaks volumes to the value that spouse places on the marriage. And once a year, if possible, invest in something longer, a weekend, a marriage retreat, a class like PAIRS or Third Option, something that says, “My Marriage is important and worth fighting for.” Read a book together like the Five Love Languages and then actively apply what you’ve learned. Who cares if you didn’t think of it? Someone did the work for you, but you still have to choose to get off your comfortable behind and live out the challenge. I always say that falling in love takes a moment, but loving someone takes a lifetime. Of daily choices. One act of kindness at a time. That’s the journey of marriage.
You might have noticed that none of these points to conquer insecurity in marriage included therapy or specific words to say or even a formula for how to get through low self-esteem seasons in your marriage. That’s because I don’t have them. What I have learned is that “the grass is greener where you water it,” but the weeds of life will never cease popping up to try and mess us up. When you take the time to take care of yourself, your spouse’s’ self-esteem issues should move to a better place, but ultimately, you cannot fix or change him. You have to work on you. And that helps the team of us. Every time. I really believe it does.
**On a side note, there’s something to say for complimenting your spouse in public, being thankful for your marriage in front of company, and championing his dreams in and out of the house, even if deep down you question the rationale for such a dream or his ability to reach it. Everyone needs a cheerleader in life. After all, we don’t walk this life alone. We weren’t meant to. And something mysterious happens when we allow those dreams to soar like kites. They lift us up, give us something to look forward to and help us swim through the cloudy days of marriage.
What’d I miss? What has helped you and your spouse during a season of doubt, insecurity or sadness? Got any date night ideas you want to share? Let us know in the comments!
Rajdeep Paulus studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and spent over a decade as an English Teacher and SAT Tutor, during which she married her best friend from Chicago whom she then followed to the island of Dominica where he began medical school. Fourteen years, four daughters, and a little house on a hill in the quaint town of Locust Valley, New York later, she now blogs weekly and writes masala-marinated, Y.A. fiction.When Raj is not tapping on her Mac, you can find her dancing with her princesses, kayaking with her hubs, coaching basketball or eating dark chocolate while sipping a frothy, sugar-free latte. She blogs at www.insearchofwaterfalls.com and secretly hopes someday she’ll own a laptop that functions under water.
Now, what advice do you have for us today? Just enter the URL of the individual post in the linky below! And make sure to link back here, too, so that other people can read all these great marriage posts!