Marriage is hard. I remember those first few years feeling like I loved the man God gave to me but didn’t have a clue how to do life with him. I would sit at the edge of my bed in the mornings not quite ready to step out into another day because being the homemaker wife stereotype just didn’t feel natural.
It wasn’t long before that I had been in a relationship that sucked me dry. My desire to take care of someone was basically non-existent. David was the third child in his family with a mom and sisters who gave him the nurturing and attention he loved. Compared to me, well, he was “needy!” But the thing about him was that He was also a giver. He didn’t want more than he was willing to give — and that was a beautiful part of his character!
But I didn’t know how to meet his expectations.
In the evenings, I would stand with tears in my eyes leaning over the hot stove trying to come up with a Plan B for dinner because Plan A was a disaster. When it came to the “big decisions” I would sit back trying to repress the leader in me who had trouble being led. Meanwhile, my husband would try to meet my expectations to lead our family with little experience as a leader and a wife who did nothing but criticize.
After a year submitting to “marriage roles” and a year of complete frustration, we made a decision. We sat down at our wits end and talked about how to make our marriage work. Frustrations are a natural part of a marriage, but we didn’t want to be at a place where our happiness had all but disappeared. We decided to go over our strengths and figure out how to be a team that honors God and one another instead of one that gives into societies expectations of what a husband and wife are meant to do and be for each other.
I admitted to being the better decision-maker (at the time). I knew how to lead after four years of extensive leadership training and study for my degree, and I was confident in the decisions I made. David admitted to being sick and tired of burnt or frozen dinners and said he enjoyed trying new things in the kitchen! (Thank goodness!)
After having children, our roles also looked different than the way I expected. Though I stayed at home, I also quickly learned that I wanted to provide financially for our family. So I worked as well and continued to follow my career goals and aspirations while balancing the chaos of motherhood.
In the mornings, my daughter and I would have battles with her hair. I couldn’t get it to look the way she wanted. One day, David asked if he could style her hair. After a few YouTube videos and a bit of practice, her hair looked great! Our daughter received more compliments on her hair that day than she ever had before! He is now the “go-to” hair stylist when she wants something new!
The examples above may seem silly. Every family dynamic is different and we all have unique strengths. But the point is to give yourself room to be you! I can sit on the end of my bed in the morning feeling happy and light because I know the only expectation for the day is for me to show up as the best version of myself and that’s what my husband does as well. Some days, it looks different! My judgment is off and he needs to make the decision. He gets home late, so I need to throw dinner together. I quit my job, so he needs to work a few extra hours during the transition.
You get the idea…
The decision that changed our marriage for the better was to use our strengths rather than being slaves to expectations.
Now, we look at each other as teammates instead of feeling sucked dry. Instead of setting me up for failure, he is served in ways that I feel confident.
“The best marriage in the world is two servants in love. The worst marriage in the world is two masters in love.” –Jimmy Evans
If in marriage you are too prideful to modify your “roles” or adjust “expectations” of yourself and your significant other, then you won’t ever get to a place in your marriage where you are truly teammates. There’s a quote from Nina Simone that says to “get up from the table if love is no longer being served.” Instead, I want to challenge you to move your positions around the table or change your perspective to honor your strengths and then enjoy what’s being served instead of wishing for something different.
How do you think marriages would look if we all honored our strengths?