Does your husband do something that drives you nuts? Something you wish he would quit?
Maybe your husband plays video games every night. Maybe he watches too much TV. Maybe he eats way too much or he eats the wrong stuff.
You don’t want him doing all these things. So what do you do?
Well, we’re in the middle of a 6-week challenge to transform your marriage by meeting his needs. You may think that sounds sexist and unrealistic, but give me a chance and hear me out! Do these things for 6 weeks, and you’ll find your attitude changing, and your husband changing!
1. Thank your husband once a day for something (try to make it something different each time)
2. Compliment your husband to your mother, your children, your friends, whatever, within earshot of your husband, every chance you get.
3. Do not nag.
4. Do not give the silent treatment.
5. Make love with relative frequency (say at least 2-3 times a week).
But one of those ones you may be struggling with is #3: do not nag. What if he does something which is absolutely awful?
Well, let’s talk first about attitudes and what you don’t do.
First of all, you job is not to change him.
I’ve written about this a lot before, and if you click on the Wifey Wednesdays link at the bottom of this post, all the other Wifey Wednesday posts will come up and you can read some of this advice. But if you’re expecting your husband to change, and withholding love and acceptance from him until he does, you’re dooming your marriage and yourself.
Men thrive on appreciation, not condemnation.
If they feel like you don’t accept them, they’re going to retreat into work, or into the computer, or into sports, or something. And remember that if you’re waiting for him to change to be happy, you’re placing your feelings in someone else’s hands. You need to take them back. Make yourself happy. Go to God. Find things you love doing. Don’t depend on him for that.
Okay, now that that’s being said, let’s look at this bad habit again. What if it is something that hurts him, like eating too much? You obviously want him to stop, even just because you love him. But our tendency in this case is to nag. We tell him he should stop. We buy him books on how to stop. We remind him what he promised. We start sulking. Why isn’t he listening to me when I love him so much?
Get off that roller coaster, honey. It’s not a good place to be. Nagging shows a man that you don’t think he’s capable. And it drives him nuts. So keep your mouth shut.
Now you’re probably thinking: if I can’t nag him, and I have to accept him, then do I just have to live with this problem?
No. Not at all. But you have to look at it differently. What you’ve been doing up until now, likely, is expecting him to change on his own. If this is a habit he has, or an addiction, he likely can’t. It’s become ingrained. So if he’s going to quit, you need to break that chain. And here’s how you do it.
When it comes to food, you probably do most of the cooking, right? If he doesn’t eat well, stop buying junk. It’s really very simple. Learn how to cook healthy, low-fat meals. I make amazing chicken dishes that taste wonderful that my husband loves taht really aren’t bad for you. Use skim milk in your cooking instead of whole milk. Reduce the salt and use garlic and herbs instead. Don’t use so much oil. Put applesauce in your muffins instead of margarine. He won’t know the difference. But it’s better for him.
And start serving vegetables inside your dishes, rather than just as a side dish. Make stews and casseroles. And then stop buying cookies and pop. Buy low-fat ice cream or sherbet for dessert. Buy lots of fruit.
You have more power than you realize.
So you take control, and he will eat better.
Now what about the other things, like computer use? Again, you have more power than you realize. The reason he’s on the computer is because it fills a void. It helps him relax and it fills his time. But if the time is filled by something else, he won’t be on the computer as much. So fill up the time.
If you want more family time, plan it.
Plan for a movie night with your husband and kids, and make it fun. Pop popcorn, get lots of blankets, and choose a fun movie. Get out board games and play with the kids. Go for a walk. Go skating. Go bowling. Once a week, do something as a family! As long as you’re together as a family at least once a week, it may not even matter if he’s on the computer so much. But don’t expect him to take the initiative and turn the computer off and suggest something to do. Plan it, something that he would find fun!
Or, better still, start inviting people to dinner–people that he likes. When they come, chances are they stay until 8 or 9. (Or later. Once, when the girls were babies and getting up at 6 in the morning, we had friends over and it was 12:30 and they still made no effort to leave. It was really awkward).
So you can all socialize and get to know each other and have fun and laugh and your husband is a part of it.
Take the initiative yourself. Make your home life fun and healthy, and don’t wait for him to do it. You just may find his habits don’t bother you as much, and you’re getting that needed family bonding time in! And if you feel like your husband isn’t close to the kids, often the way that you decide to act can actually help him bond with the kids.
With most things that bother us, the solution is not to convince him to change; it’s to change the dynamic in our house ourselves, and he will likely follow along.
That’s what our six-week challenge is about; changing the dynamic. Don’t do what you usually do. Show him appreciation. Show him acceptance. And then see what happens!
If you show him that acceptance and appreciation, and then you take the responsibility to change things you don’t like (rather than waiting for him to change), the whole interaction in your marriage will shift. You won’t be expecting things out of him anymore; you’ll be expecting them out of yourself. And he will feel much more appreciated.
So can you do it? Whatever it is that he does that bothers you, can you change yourself so that it isn’t as much of an issue, rather than constantly nagging? Or can you decide to set it aside, recognizing that in the bigger scheme of things, it’s great just to be married to this man, even if a few habits he has are annoying?
I pray that you can do that! Because life would be so much better if we freed ourselves just to love.