Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tips for a Happy Marriage #2

I only get my hair cut about twice a year. So when I go to the hair salon, I come back looking fairly different. My hair is a few inches shorter, and the stylist always makes my hair look very different than it does when I do it myself. When I come in looking what I think of as dramatically different (and presumably better) than I did an hour before, I'd like a compliment. I'd like to feel like the $50 was money well spent.

Unfortunately, my husband is often busy when I get back and may or may not even notice that I look like a movie star. And he doesn't know that I need him to say something nice about how I look whether or not he notices. In short, he can't read my mind. So I've learned that when I go to get my hair cut, I need to tell him as I'm leaving, "I'm going to get my hair cut. When I get back, you need to tell me that I look nice."

The same principle applies in other situations as well, which is what makes it marriage tip #2: Don't expect your spouse to read your mind.

You want something done around the house? Spell it out. Make a list. You want her to communicate respect? Tell her specifically what that would look like. You want him to tell you he loves you more often? Ask him to. You think she's misunderstood something you've said? Talk about it. You have your schedule all planned out? Tell your spouse--they won't know you want to spend all of Saturday on a long bike ride if you haven't told them.

I'm not saying this is a magic bullet or anything. Your husband may still not think to tell you he loves you or that you look beautiful. Those chores may still not get done. But they certainly won't get done if you're waiting around for him to figure out what you want done by reading your mind.

I think sometimes we wait around for our spouse to figure out our needs and meet them because we're afraid. that once we've communicated a desire or need, if they don't meet that need we may feel unloved. It is a little scary. We could end up getting hurt. But I think it's a risk worth taking. Chances are, if our marriage is reasonably healthy our spouse wants to make us happy. And learning specifically how they can do that will be a relief to them. After all, trying to read someone's mind is exhausting and doomed to failure, so after trying that for a year or two they've probably given up. Communicating what you want is a breath of fresh air in a marriage--for both of you.

Final word of warning: don't corner your spouse while they're in the middle of something and dump your top 50 desires and needs on them in one fell swoop. Take it one thing at a time, and communicate, communicate, communicate.

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