It was the day after Thanksgiving… Black Friday… Target was packed with zealous shoppers… my daughter and I weren't there to score any flat screens, laptops or cameras… no deals, just the ingredients to make spaghetti for dinner that night. As I perused spaghetti sauces in search of the one I wanted my daughter waited patiently beside me in her jean jacket that matched mine and cowgirl boots. I was keenly aware of a couple nearby shopping as well. It was then that the woman's distinct voice caught my full attention…
"No, I'm not COOKING tonight! I'm eating leftovers. I cooked all day yesterday and now you want me to make another meal tonight?!" She exclaimed as she pushed an empty red shopping cart ahead of her with indignant frustration, running her hands through her medium length hair… she wore leggings and a lightweight gray jacket over a workout top.
It could be viewed as a classic "couple who has been married awhile argument" I surmised. In response to her outrage I heard him mumble something in return wearing jeans and a fleece jacket, his voice low and his words indistinguishable. I dared to look over at him with a wary look mixed with the thought of: "Dude, really?" wondering why on earth he'd risked asking her to prepare another meal after she had spent the majority of her previous day cooking Thanksgiving. True, she had responded harshly… her response certainly could have been softened… the exchange between them reminded me of how we often all get stuck in non-productive patterns in our relationships without maybe even realizing it.
I wondered how pleasantly different that entire exchange would have ended if he had offered to make the meal… acknowledging her hard work the day before, giving her arm an affectionate squeeze and offering to prepare them an Italian dinner for two. What if he had prompted her to go check out the DVD's and choose something for them to watch? What if instead of her coming back with an indignant, prideful, defensive etc response of how hard she had worked the previous day in the kitchen she had acknowledged he wasn't really wanting leftovers and offering a compromise of some sort? Maybe they could pick up Italian to go so no one had to cook. There were so many alternatives to what happened… instead of them walking away in huffy silence… her ahead and him trailing a couple feet behind like a scolded child.
3 Tips For Couples:
1. Show Appreciation For Your Spouse
It's so important to show appreciation for the one you're with. Like the scenario above, in some homes the wife does all the cooking, in others it's the husband… and in some household's both spouses work together on preparing the meals. But regardless of who is doing the cooking it's imperative that spouses thank each other for all the hard work they go to. If one person spent the day cooking the respectful thing to do is to offer to load the dishwasher or at the very least offer to help them clean up. When we speak words of life and or show our appreciation through our actions it shows our spouse what they are doing to contribute is not going by unnoticed.
2. Determine Your Expectations
We need to take the time to determine exactly what our expectations are in relation to balancing work, family, hobbies, household chores, even how we plan to handle our finances. If we aren't certain what our expectations are we can write down the various categories and look at them with a realistic view. It's imperative to see where we match up with our spouse and where we find ourselves possibly at odds with one another… how can we bridge that gap and try to find compromise? When we focus on the positivity of the areas we are in agreement in and then work as a team to find solutions to the rest we can stand in victory together.
3. Speak Up
When we take the time to tell our spouse what we want or need we are using our speech instead of silently sulking that "they never help us" etc. It's when we say "Hey, we need to do x,y,z… which item would you like to handle?" we are engaging in teamwork… not taking the role of a parent or martyr who later proclaims they "do it all", bemoaning up on a pedestal, only serving to guilt trip those around them yet actually spurring zero change in the dynamic at hand. Instead we can choose to give our relationship life, to speak up, encourage one another, say what is on our mind, ask for help and work together to find solutions.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014