I had absolutely no idea what I was getting in to when I got married in Sep of `02. I would tell Nathan “I love you” and truly thought I knew what that meant at the time! Makes me wonder if in 20 yrs I’ll look back on today and think “I thought I understood love back then.” I’m looking forward to that day. Because as much as I enjoyed being married 7 yrs ago, it’s much more enjoyable now! If it’s just going to keep getting better, I’m excited for what it will be like in 20 yrs. Have you ever felt this way??
Nathan used to be such a mystery to me. He would say or do some random thing and I would be completely bewildered, upset, confused, hurt, or a combination of all 4! I am sure that Nathan is as relieved as I am that I understand him better now. Something I realized early on in my married life is that much of my frustration was stemming from un-met expectations. This is still something I have to remind myself of, but 8 yrs ago I was *chalk full* of expectations. I expected him to react a certain way to my cooking. I expected an insane amount of undivided attention every day. I expected him to LOVE all my favorite holidays as much as I did. The list goes on and on! When one of these expectations wasn’t met, I was crushed. This isn’t what I expected at all!! Why would he do this to me?? He must hate my cooking. And spending time with me. And holidays!
After a good long talk, we decided to make a rule. Always assume the best, and give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Actually I think we made a few rules. But this is the one that made the biggest impact. Instead of assuming that he was TRYING to hurt my feelings by critiquing my cooking, I made myself give him the benefit of the doubt. He likes to cook WITH me! Instead of assuming that he doesn’t want to spend time with me, consider that maybe he doesn’t realize my need to spend more time talkin his leg off.
I’ve recently realized that this rule doesn’t just apply to spouses. I’m trying to learn to use it on everyone! Assuming the best of someone instantly changes your perspective. For example, there are a few people that I’ve always assumed didn’t like me because we don’t share the same beliefs. I’m trying to retrain myself to not think that or just accept it as fact. I want to assume the best of them, so instead I tell myself (outloud sometimes, if I’m completely unconvinced) “they don’t hate you because you’re different, they simply don’t understand what you DO believe.” I’m trying to assume that they LIKE me, even if there is little to no evidence to that end.
Another hurdle in my marriage was realizing that I didn’t know as much about Nathan as I thought I did. Not that he has ever pretended to be anything other than what he is! But be honest. We draw conclussions and decide that we have people figured out WAY too quickly sometimes. I think my precious husband is the victim of this entirely too often! No one expects him to have any sort of Latin ways about him! 🙂 But when one of those Latin tendencies pop up, it’s interpreted as something entirely different. Because people expect him to be who they expected, not who he actually is. I am shocked at how few people really *know* Nathan. It’s definitely their loss.
I’m trying to translate this into my other relationships as well. I remind myself that even though I may know a person pretty well, I can’t possibly know all there is to know about them and what they are going through. It goes hand-in-hand with assuming the best.
I’m sorry this post seems a bit rambly! I am tired… that’s my only excuse. 🙂 But I wanted to share with you my new determination for the relationships in my world. There are several that need an overhaul and this feels like a good place to start. It worked wonders for my marriage so I’m thinking it certainly can’t hurt to try! I hope you’ll try it with me.