Since I've been less than industrious lately, what with the mush for brains and slow motion accomplishment that has overtaken me, I think I'm going to wrap up this extended book review with 3 reasons his joy and passion can die or, as I like to call it, 3 big mistakes I have made regularly! :)
-Leaving His Sidelines: Our we still his biggest fan and supporter? Do we add to our spouses stress by us being at war with his work? Do we respect him for all of the pressures he handles at work, etc. or do we just berate him for being late or being in meetings all day, unavailable by phone? Or does he have a hobby or interest that we belittle all the time? Or resent his enjoyment of it and complain until full attention is on us? When Randy and I first got married I hated him leaving every morning. I would whine and do my best to tempt him to stay him, call in sick, be late, whatever. It took me a while (maybe a couple of years?) to understand how that did nothing for our relationship and just added stress to his plate. I think the moral of this section is that when we understand our mates, we will know that them doing a good job, excelling at a hobby, feeling good about their work and having a support to do that good work from home accomplishes and fills everyone's needs.
-Comparing Apples to Oranges: This is a two-way street highlighting the danger of comparing your mate with any other man, whether previous boyfriend or friend, and comparing yourself to every other woman in the world. Neither accomplishes anything good, but breaking down the value of each other and, in a way, sabotaging the growth and improvement that could be. A common female complaint, myself included, is I feel fat or I hate the way this looks, etc., and when we tell our mate, sure we'd love it if they would come back and say, "You look beautiful! What are you talking about?" with a big goofy grin. But the truth is, the more we talk negatively about ourselves and especially truly dislike ourselves, for some men this can be a nagging thought that, maybe she is too this or yeah I don't like that either about her. And what good does that do either of you? The way I've learned to look at marriage (maybe you can tell me if this is misguided) is like you're in this ivory castle of sorts, where there is no one else, no comparisons, no better or worse, just the two of you. It seems like when you can stay focused like that, you begin to find value in so much more than when you throw yourself in the midst of everyone around you. Granted, its severely difficult to maintain that concept but it helps to return their as often as you can.
-Married to Mrs. (Always) Right: Now, if I were to rank all of the 'mistakes' or 'what not to do items', this one would be my number 1. Number 1 for what i do the most that does the most damage and the first thing I would recommend to implement in your marriage above everything else. But that's just me. Anyway, if you can't already tell, this concept highlights the mother/teacher syndrome of always having the answer, having the best way, always having to approve of someone else's idea, just a general knowing better than everyone. If I were to have a tick, I think this would be it. I get caught up in verbally approving or disapproving, agreeing or disagreeing with everything anyone says, like my opinion is king. Perhaps I'm rambling even now, but the harsh reality is that no matter who you are, your opinion is NOT, I repeat NOT the only and best, above all others, least of all your husbands. Constantly correcting, especially in public, is belittling, disrespectful and not, AT ALL, filled with the fruits of the Spirit. I probably sound like I'm preaching now, but it is to myself. I do this without thinking - it is second nature to me - so I need a heavy reminder to do something about it!
As someone shared with me recently, it seems that no matter how old you are, how long you've been married, it is continually a growth process, a journey and a whole lot of work. I hope that we are always willing to grow, continue to move forward and learn to love this work of being a woman and wife.