Growing up on a farm, I was able to see the planting, growing, and harvesting of a variety of different crops. Wheat, potatoes, beans, corn, peppermint, sugar beets, and alfalfa made every summer a torture for my trusty shovel and me.
As we worked, I saw a very different side of food than most folks do. The raw side. When I was little, I one time asked my mom in the store, “how do they get those potatoes so clean?” All I knew is that they must not have come from our farm, because ours were dirty, weirder-shaped, and a lot bigger than those perfect ones in the bags.
When dating, “perfection” was fairly easy to attain. After picking out the perfect clothing combo, I spritzed on the perfect cologne.
Jumping into my perfectly clean car, I picked the perfect radio station: something upbeat, safe, classic, and not too weird. Then we would go on our perfectly planned and executed date. Perfect. Right? Well, I just realized that we were the potatoes in the bag- all spruced up, prepared and washed, and juuuuust the right size.
Then comes marriage. And the raw potatoes come out. And it’s hard. And some couples can’t come to grips with it. With over three years of marriage, I’ve seen and have been those raw potatoes. Here’s some things I have learned, in no particular order:
Think the Best About Your Spouse
What stories are you narrating in your mind regarding your spouse? Does it always end up with negative words? You can, in a very systematic way, eliminate those negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Like the ones I had when we were dating? Yep, those ones. Learn to control the narrative in your mind and everything improves.
To start, you might just pretend to listen, it’s a pretty big adjustment.
Whether it’s just to vent, or a full on conversation, realize that it’s probably more important to her than it is to you. Sharing to women is what meat and potatoes is to men. It’s fulfilling. Just listen, don’t interrupt or try to hurry her up.
Remember, when you talk about sports, finances, and vehicles, she probably listens (or pretends to listen) to you. If she doesn’t, maybe she soon will, especially after seeing your newfound patience and understanding. Listen.
Thought is the springboard to action, emotion, and desire. How someone thinks about themselves affects their appearance. It’s a fact.
If someone thinks themselves lowly, they will often appear slovenly, sullen, and withdrawn. On the other hand, if someone is continually lifted up and complemented, they will radiate with happiness and beauty.
The more you say it, the more you BOTH will believe it on a subconscious and physical level. Therefore, you will both feel and look more attractive to each other. Give sincere compliments.
“What stories are you narrating in your mind regarding your spouse?”
This one is hard, believe me. One time I walked into my apartment and was greeted by my smiling wife who said, “well, what do you think?” I looked at her, hoping for a clue.
A new blouse?
My eyes darted around the room. Nope, everything looked the same. So I panicked. “Honey, I LOVE your new pants!” She frowned slightly, then pointed to her hair.
She had gotten it cut.
In fact, THIRTEEN INCHES were cut, and I hadn’t even noticed. There was no recovery from that one, but it was a good lesson in paying attention to things that are important to her.
Do NEW Things Together
I recently read a study called “Reinventing Date Night”. This article may have been targeted to those married longer than me, but it applies to all.
When we do new and spontaneous things together, those feelings of butterflies are once again activated. Try something different this time. The restaurant and movie theater will still be there next week.
These are fairly practical things that couples can do together. For a more spiritual discussion on marriage, click here.