5 Reasons a Little Effort in Marriage Goes a Long Way
Please forgive me for what I’m about to say if your wedding or engagement photo looks like the one with this article. I admit, it is beautiful. The bride looks lovely. The filter is dreamy. The couple looks blissful. But what strikes me the most about this photo, and so many others I see, is that the bride is front and center while her groom is merely a prop for her to pose against. It doesn’t seem like this marriage will be about “we” but about “me.”
Now, again, I’m sure lots of couples do photos that highlight both the bride and the groom, but it does seem that starting with the wedding, a lot of marriages get off on the wrong foot — it’s “her big day.” She does most of the planning (and most of the paying too, if we’re being honest), and gets to make most of the choices. There’s nothing wrong with that, as most guys don’t really care which greenery is used in the flower arrangements.
But whether a couple is just starting out, or they’ve been together for a while, it’s important to be a we. And when you’re trying to make the most of your oneness, here are 5 ways a little effort goes a long way.
A friend of mine and her husband were talking with another couple. The other guy complained that his wife takes way too long to get ready. “And when she shaves her legs,” he said, “it takes even longer!” My friend’s husband was silent for a moment and then responded. “Your wife shaves her legs??” My friend didn’t know whether to laugh or kill him.
Sometimes in marriage, it’s the little things that add up—little positive things or little negative things—and influence the way we feel about the relationship overall. The good news is that with minimal effort, you can form some habits that keep the positive vibes flowing and your marriage going strong.
1. Little courtesies
Running late? Send him a text to let him know. Making a meal plan for the week? Ask him which favorites he’s in the mood for. Driving by the dry cleaners on your way home from work? Pick up his shirts. None of these require great effort, but say quietly, “I care, and I was thinking about you.”
2. Parenting partnership
Volumes have been written about the need for couples to work together in their parenting. Keep yourself accountable to run important decisions by your husband rather than acting like a one-woman show. He’ll feel validated, and your children will benefit from the knowledge that mom and dad agree on the rules.
Aretha Franklin told us it was important, but we sometimes forget. For men, the respect thing is big—bigger than you probably know. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to disagree, but the manner and tone in which you disagree can keep your relationship intact when the discussion is over.
4. Money manners
Couples fight about money more than anything else. So nip that tension in the bud by communicating honestly and responsibly about spending decisions. Resist the urge to strike out on your own with a big purchase with the thought that it’s “easier to get forgiveness than permission.” Because honestly—wouldn’t you rather him show you the same courtesy, too?
5. House rules
Does your husband have a pet peeve or a specific thing around the house that really matters to him? Then by all means, try to help him out. If it drives him nuts to open three bottles of ketchup before the first one is empty—empty one bottle at a time. Very little effort for you—big relief to him.
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I am a very imperfect Merrill family manager and the director of iMOM. I love to analyze life, ponder possibilities, and pray for opportunity, which makes for a very busy and messy house!