One of the things I loved about Tommy when we were dating was his deep sense of loyalty.
But back then I didn’t even know what it was; I was just enthralled by his kindness and commitment to my welfare.
After years of marriage, now I know my husband is intensely loyal. He doesn’t keep a big circle of friends but the few he connects to, he’s all in.
The online dictionary defines loyalty as “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.”
That describes my husband to a tee. It also describes what I am not.
Mostly I feel strong loyalty to ideas and agendas. My husband, on the other hand, feels a more robust loyalty to people, over ideas.
I did not understand all that when we were courting. In fact, I basked in his loyalty and devotion.
But a few months married, I came face to face with the other side of his sweet trait.
And his formerly sweet habit stopped being cute.
We were in the company of friends when I got a sudden craving for a burger.
I told my husband, but he felt it would be wrong to get food for ourselves and not get anything for our buddies (our budget could not handle it as we were going through lean financial times)
It made perfect sense. So I suggested we grab takeaways. But to my husband, grabbing a takeaway or eating-in was the same thing; still buying food for ourselves in the company of friends.
So no burger for me.
It was a long quiet drive home. Until we go home. And the tap turned loose.
I accused him of preferring his friends over me. He went all logical. I insisted he was more concerned with appearances (aka he did not want to look broke) than meeting his wife’s needs.
Note to bride; when you unleash the beasts of logic versus emotion, you will surely go over the cliff.
Anyway, there was genuine confusion on my husband’s face as he asked: “I still do not understand why you are so upset?”
I got more mad. Because there’s nothing more annoying than a husband who does not understand why you are so annoyed.
At that point, I believe Tommy was having his own solemn revelation; he married a child.
Y’all, I am the last born child in a family of nine kids and that evening (and the following day) it all came out – the whining and immaturity of “why doesn’t the world revolve around me?”
On one hand, was my husband, being his usual kind, inclusive self. On the other was me; no longer the only recipient of his deep devotion, at least the way I preferred to interpret it.
I loved it when it was lavished on me. But hated it when it was directed at others.
The moral of the story? Never ask for stuff when your husband is broke!
But seriously, here are four tips on what to do when his formerly sweet dating habit now drive you nuts;
1. Accept that different doesn’t mean wrong.
Sometimes back I wrote a post titled “Your spouse might not be wrong, just different” and explained how being different in marriage is a good thing.
I think God sets us up, on purpose.
He created us to churn out specific hormones when we are in love. The hormones ensure we like each other to the degree the mundane is an absolute delight, and the smallest thing earthshaking glee.
That is God’s way of helping humans marry.
But once married He has a grander plan! Grow the human!
So the hormones stop firing, we drop down from cloud nine, and now we have to deal with the real person who was hiding behind the love show.
In dealing with a real person, we start to grow (or die, our choice.) Yes, you can have the fireworks and tingles and butterflies again, but now they don’t bloom because he showed up all dashing and suave.
They fire up because you intentionally invested in the relationship. You understood and accepted the way he is.
All that to say this; don’t react when his sweet habits turn sour. Dig deeper. If the sweetness brought you to where you are today, surely God must have meant it for good.
Be quick to check your motives, and even quicker to accept Gods methods.
2. Accept the learning curve.
I spoke about the learning curve for newlyweds in this video.
I don’t know why, but we expect to get married and immediately take off like we haven’t introduced the heaviest most challenging dimension to a relationship; lifetime matrimony.
If a habit bothers you, remember that it didn’t always annoy you. You seemed to like it; that is why it is still there.
Like we said last week, what you entertain in courtship blooms in marriage. If something bugs you now, give grace. Talk about it but don’t fuss like it just started today, because it did not.
In fact, you may have married him because of it.
And you might not know it yet, but you have a ton of things he is adjusting to as well. (psst..like the fact that you don’t like his cuteness anymore)
When you talk about the formerly-sweet-now-disturbing trait, chances are things might get heated. Force yourselves to focus on the thoughts and feelings behind the words, not just the words.
In our hot deliberation that lasted a couple of days (I kid you not), it turned out we were so focused on words and barbs we missed the “why” behind our feelings and thoughts.
Had we slowed down and asked the right questions – and accepted the answers without making more demands – we would have sort out the drama the same evening.
In the end, all I wanted was affirmation; I wanted to know my husband cared. And all Tommy needed was for me to understand the language of respect and how important it was to him.
3. Rejoice if he changes. But don’t hold your breath.
I don’t mean to drown your sweet dreams. Plus I don’t know your guy.
But I know mine, plus a few other married dudes.
While some habits improve in marriage, others remain the same. The good news is that, with your cooperation, God can change you. To the degree that your hubby’s deliciousness looms larger than his small annoyances.
After eight years of marriage, I now know better than to ask my husband to do certain things. And he knows better than not to bless or affirm me in my moment of need.
But see the point? We have both grown. After years together and if things come to a head, we try to give way, not lock horns and stick to our guns.
If your honey changes, please notice and appreciate it. If he doesn’t rejoice anyway because it is an opportunity for your growth.
4. Love the choice you made.
Finally just enjoy the choice you made! It must be funny when we go to God and complain about the man he gave us. I think God is staring at us with a divine creased brow, “I thought you chose him?”
When your husband’s dating cuteness rubs you raw in marriage, accept that this is the person you married; find the giggles and smiles and laughter again.
Sometimes that is exactly what you need; to quit the seriousness and remember what attracted you to him in the first place.
I am typing this post from the bedroom, and my husband just popped in to say something. Typically I want to keep my head down, so I don’t lose track of thought.
But thankfully I have been learning to beat the urge. So I looked up, stopped typing and engaged. We talked a little, laughed and then he was gone. Then I went back to work.
That is the rhythm of a good marriage; interruptions, presence, awareness, sharing, acceptance.
Don’t stick to your script; what you think your husband should look like. Instead, pick up Gods script; the person he is becoming in God.
Will there be room for change? Absolutely and always. The real question is, will you grow and change together? That is a question only you can answer.
*Please note: In this post, I am addressing the typical growth pains of a regular marriage. If what you have are deeper chronic issues, read this post and this post
*To find out how to grow together as a couple, instead of growing apart, pick up my book, Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily-Ever-After In The Early Years. You will learn from our mistakes and discover how to establish better foundations as a newlywed (or reinforce and strengthen your foundations if you are an older bride). Click here for more info and to find purchase links.*
And here’s my latest video on YouTube! Do you struggle with the term “helpmeet”? Wonder what it means? Then watch “What it means to be his suitable helper” to understand what God means!
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Linking with Messy Marriage