It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!
This week we’re talking about how to simplify your life, and now that we’re 8 days into it, and a bunch of you are excited about some of the things I’ve shared, it’s time for a warning.
It’s always dangerous in a marriage when one person gets excited about something, and the other hasn’t caught the vision yet. You get mad at them for not seeing it your way, but realistically, they haven’t had the input into it that you have. They haven’t experienced the things you did which gave you a little shove in that direction. They’re still living in their comfort zone.
That’s not their fault. You’re the one who’s changed; we can’t always expect our husbands to follow right along happily, like a little lap dog.
But what do we do when we think the change we’ve embraced is something important? We can’t just let it go, but he’s not on board!
Here’s a thought: give him a chance. Don’t hector him. Think about how you embraced the change: you saw the potential for how life could be different, and you got sick of the direction you were going in. He’s not going to change unless he also sees those two things: he needs to catch the vision, and he needs to become dissatisfied with the way things are now.
He’s not going to catch the vision if you’re pestering him about it. It just won’t work.
Here’s what might.
Photo by Spirit-Fire
Tell him that you want to spend some time talking to him about what he wants out of life–what his dreams are, what he feels God telling him, where he’s going.
And then start asking him. Don’t ask him about the things that you necessarily think are crucial; let him start talking about the things that he thinks are important. His opinion is, after all, rather central!
What I’d recommend is breaking it down into these big questions:
1. Where do you see our finances in five years? In ten years? And what can I do to help us get there?
Don’t tell him what you want him to do; ask him how you can participate in his goals. One little tip about talking finances, though: how much money you have saved has far less to do with how much you make and far more to do with your spending/saving habits. Many people assume that once they get a raise, then they will save–but the raise comes, and they just spend it all. So when you’re making your financial goals, don’t put it off, thinking “once I have a new job I’ll talk about that”, or “once we’re out of this rough patch we can make some goals.” Make some goals now, and ask what you can do to help reach those goals. If he sees that you’re trying to participate with what he wants, he’s far more likely to embrace the process!
2. Where do you see our marriage in five years? In ten years? How can we build our friendship?
Ask him what sorts of things he enjoys doing together. What did he like to do with you once that you don’t do anymore? How can you steal some more alone time?
3. Where do you see the kids in five years? In ten years? In fifteen? What character traits do you want them to have? How can we nurture those character traits?
Here’s one of the biggest discussion topics! If your husband, for instance, really wants to raise boys that will be responsible, independent go-getters, and these boys right now are 8 & 10 and do nothing but play on videogames, then ask him how we’re going to turn them into responsible, independent go-getters. What can we start doing now that can put them on that road?
Perhaps your husband, for instance, has been of the opinion that the house is your responsibility. Showing him that having the boys learn to clean the bathroom and do the dishes is part of teaching them to be responsible and independent may be enough to get him to embrace the concept of chores, rather than having you do all of them.
If you want your boys to be independent go-getters, you probably also don’t want them spending all their time on video games. So what can you do instead? Can you start a family games night? Can you play sports as a family more, and get away from the TV? Can your husband teach them to mow the lawn?
Ask him what he did as a child that made him responsible (or that turned him in the opposite direction)! Many men just haven’t thought of this stuff very deeply, and when you start asking questions, you draw it out of them. They become part of the process.
This is far better than announcing to your husband that you want to downsize, that you want to get rid of the TV, that you want to quit all extracurricular activities, have family games night, or set up chore charts for everyone. Do that, and you’re making changes with no input from him. And honestly, even if you’ve thought a lot about goals, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you know best how to get your family there. I’ve found quite frequently that I can diagnose a problem very well in our household, but my husband often comes up with better solutions on how to deal with the girls about it. At first I resist, and often I get angry at him for not deferring to my obviously superior wisdom, but sometimes he sees things I just don’t. Let your husband talk!
Will all husbands embrace this idea of goal setting? No. But many will, if you present it in the right way with the right heart: you want to be part of making sure your family goes in the right direction, and you want to make sure that both of you agree on that direction. You’re not setting the agenda. You’re not dictating anything. You’re talking about it together. And many men find it much easier to picture where they want to be in five years or ten years than they do figure out how they want to change right now. Give them the big picture first, and then ask them to plot a route to get there, rather than trying to diagnose what’s wrong now and what we should do about it. Don’t start with what’s wrong; that just assigns blame and can start disagreements. Start with the far-off picture that you can both usually agree on fairly easily, and then back up. It’s usually much more effective.
Talk about it in a friendly, low-stress setting, and he’s more likely to agree to have the conversation in the first place!
Simplifying your life depends upon figuring out where you’re going, and then making sure your family is heading there. Too often we think we’re going somewhere–raising independent, responsible, godly kids–but our actions are often taking us in a different direction because we haven’t really analyzed the route to our goals. Think about those goals explicitly, and then plan the route. Then your family won’t get so tired and discouraged from being thrown off track.
Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever goal planned with your husband? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!