My husband and I have been through times in our relationship when we just weren’t happy. There’s also been times when our relationship was fine, but not as good as it could have been. When I think back on these periods, they all have one thing in common:
We weren’t treating the other in the way that we wanted to be treated. And, it turns out that my mom’s “golden rule” from my childhood is actually one of the best pieces of marriage advice: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
Acting out of spite vs. acting out of love
Jake and I didn’t always put our best foot forward in our relationship. Our own insecurities caused us to act with spite or hastiness because we didn’t like what we were getting from the other person. And when we were unhappy, the quality of our relationship decreased. It’s almost like we forgot how to date each other. I expected him to pursue me, though I wasn’t doing a good job of pursuing him myself.
I recall treating Jake in the way I perceived him to be treating me. I would be slow to apologize because he was slow to apologize. I would seldom hand out a “thank you” because I didn’t feel I heard those words enough. I didn’t want to put forth effort that I didn’t think would be appreciated or returned. I was building up resentment towards my husband, and I was letting that resentment fuel my actions towards him.
I wondered how to make my husband more affectionate towards me, and it finally sank in. I needed to treat him in the way I wanted to be treated. If I wanted to hear “thank you” more, I had to show my appreciation more. If I wanted more small acts of affection, I had to show them first. I needed to treat my husband with acts of love – regardless of whether I thought they’d be returned or not. Because that is love.
As I changed my behavior towards my husband, his demeanor changed as well. There are things husbands need to hear from wives and vice versa. We all want to be loved and to be happy. And what you put out is what you get back in return. If you put out hastiness and bitterness, you’ll receive it. If you put out love and kindness, you’ll receive it.
Today, we’re proud of the marriage we’ve built. We have a marriage where both people feel comfortable and confident bringing feelings to the table. A marriage in which each person is supported, uplifted and heard. A marriage that sprinkles kisses on foreheads and leaves twinkles in your eyes. A marriage where each spouse treats the other in the way they want to be treated.
No marriage is perfect. But if you’re wondering how to have a happier marriage, first take a look at yourself. Where could you improve? We so often want to place blame on our partner when we’re unhappy. (I was 100% guilty of this!) But your actions spark your spouse’s. You can’t control your spouse’s actions, but you can control yours. If you don’t like the actions you’re receiving from your spouse, consider which actions of yours may be causing them.