I have felt the weight of marriage. A weight so heavy that it would crush me to a point where I felt as if I held my heart in my hand that it would crumble right through my fingers. Those are the days that feel like my marriage is failing.
But like the other marriage lies we buy into, it’s usually just a temporary feeling. 6 months, 6 years, or 6 decades, it doesn’t matter. It all takes practice, patience, and perseverance… and we will never stop feeling. Because marriage is emotional and meant to be felt.
Affiliate links included to amazing resources to help mend your marriage in the rough patches.
“WALK THE EXTRA 5 FEET!”
I have said it ad nauseam.
Over and over and over I ask my husband to walk his trash and recyclables the extra few feet to discard of it properly. I have done it for 6 years. And you’d think I would know by now that it’s hardwired into my husband’s DNA to collect bottles on the counter and not in the trash.
It doesn’t make sense to me why you would collect dishes, cups, and empty bottles only to set the on the counter.
And it grinds my gears to the point of frustration.
So then the long day at work my husband had and the excruciatingly frustrating day I had with the kids comes to a head and every. single. time. we start arguing and those dumb bottles come up.
I just can’t drop it.
We go off on argumentative tangents and I wind up in a blubbering crying mess huddled in my metaphorical corner. And that’s when my heart is crumbling through my fingers.
But just like in parenting, we all have triggers. And understanding those and addressing them is paramount to pulling ourselves out of the Eeyore-post-fight marriage funk.
The 2 questions to ask yourself to work on bettering your marriage
Sure, there are lots of ways to work on getting along and mending broken hearts. Counseling, rediscovering epic date nights that you will remember forever, and apologizing even if you know you were right.
Regardless of how much you love your spouse or how much your spouse adores you, there are times of frustration, anger, and sometimes even that feeling of being crushed. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your marriage is failing… many times it just feels that way.
Two simple questions will help quickly recenter and refocus your feelings and emotional attention. They are actionable and will shift your mindset from failing to improving.
“What can I do to better our marriage?”
To refocus your attention from what your spouse did wrong, from what your spouse said, and from what your spouse should do next time, start thinking about what you can do.
It’s a combined effort and maybe you’re already bearing the brunt of the burden in your marriage, but since we’re human and certainly not perfect, find an area that you’re weak in and strive to do better.
It’s simple things like choosing to be ok with picking up socks, walking the bottles to the trash, and moving the bath towel an extra 6 inches from the edge of the door to the hook on the back. Over time they may not seem simple, but take a step back.
How silly are those pet peeves from the wide-angled lens of your marriage?
But you can do big things too! Focus on a character trait that needs improving. Are you impatient? Selfish? Rude? Easily Angered? Perpetually late?
In the end, your efforts make a big difference, even if just in your own attitude.
“What did my spouse really say/do?”
It’s really easy to put words into our spouse’s mouth. It’s really easy to interpret a situation without words to have some sort of dreary subtext.
I am the first to jump to conclusions. Always have been and always will be. Because I am a feeler.
So when my husband comes home and doesn’t say a word, no hug, no kiss, no nod my ways to indicate I am still a living, breathing person and I just immediately concluded that he was mad at me, I was worthless, and there’s my heart again crumbling through my hands.
But really he had a rough day at work. He had 3 meetings, one of his co-workers got fired, he has an extra workload, and he sat in traffic for 45 minutes to make it home.
Remove yourself from the situation, even if just mentally, and ask yourself what was actually said/done versus what you think was said or done.
Then when you start talking again instead of the accusatory “Well you said…” or “But you did…”, start your comments with “What I imagined you saying” or “What I interpreted you doing…” This also helps shift your own wording from focusing on them to refocusing it on yourself.
And that’s when we also refer back to question one — what can you do to be better?
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!