Having attended a number of wedding showers lately, I have been thinking about what I would say to my own children should they ever get married.
Husbands – love your wife. Show your children that you love her.
Wives – Respect your husband. Show your children that you respect him.
Wives – trust your husband with the children. Let him develop his own way of interacting with them. If you don’t do this, you will never get away for a scrapbooking weekend or a shopping trip to the mall or a girls night out.
Wives – when your husband does the dishes, say Thank you. Praise him. Later, after habits have been developed, you can make suggestions based on logic. Husbands – when your wife shovels the snow or takes the car in for an oil change, say, Thank you. Later, you can tell her again how much you appreciate her help.
Divide chores according to your strengths. My husband mows the lawn and shovels the snow. I do the deep cleaning in the house. But know how to do each other’s jobs. Lately, my husband has been pushing me to deal with car repair shops.
Each of you should have your specialty meals. The menu determines who is doing the cooking at our house. When we have spaghetti, we know my husband is doing the cooking; when we have chicken and dumplings, I am cooking. I am capable of making spaghetti, but it is not as good as my husbands. He can make chicken and dumplings, but he can’t remember all the ingredients. We make thanksgiving dinner together. He makes the turkey, I make the desserts and the side dishes.
The word “divorce” should not be in your vocabulary when speaking to each other, especially during an argument. Threatening divorce is the nuclear option. In the Old Testament in the book of Malachi, God says, “I hate divorce.” In the New Testament, Jesus said to the teachers of the law, “Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of yours hearts.” *(I know that sometimes circumstances make divorce an option, in cases of abuse, promiscuity, or abandonment.)
Don’t set traps for each other. (If my husband/wife really loved me, they would: remember my birthday, our anniversary.) Make plans to celebrate. Be intentional together.
Let your spouse hear your genuine praise in the presence of others, especially your children.
Develop hobbies, interests. Do some things together and some things separate. Compliment each other’s efforts. “I love the way the garden looks.” “I like looking at the photo albums.” (my hobby) “I enjoy these Christmas villages.” (my husband loves setting up Christmas village). Gift cards are a way to support each other’s interests. Buy a gift card to Joann Fabrics, the scrapbooking store, Pet Smart (my husband has an aquarium). Don’t let your hobbies take too much time, however.
Listen. Especially when your spouse is struggling. Especially when your spouse wants to talk about their hopes and dreams. Put down the knitting. Turn off the TV. Turn away from the computer.
Serve each other. My husband often makes eggs for me on Saturday mornings.
Forgive each other.
Be patient, be respectful, be loving, be sacrificial.