My 26-day journey to becoming a better wife. Letter “E”

How “Don’t use your bedroom as a laundry room” and “Do and say things that bring honor to your husband” went.

            Yesterday was rough for me. As I’ve mentioned in several of my blogs, I am staying at home right now with the government being shut down. I’ll let you in on a secret, I’m one of those moms who always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. The thought of spending every waking moment with my kids, never missing a moment, and seeing everything that they learn really appealed to me. Then…I HAD kids. Doing something in theory, and doing something in reality are two totally different things. Yesterday was really tough for me. I’ve been laid off like most government employees since the first of October. Yesterday made 10 days of staying at home with the twins, and I was just beat. I was discouraged and upset when my husband got home. Of course that means that the very first thing my husband did when he got home that got on my nerves made me angry. We had to go to the store to get some things for dinner, and that was a complete disaster, plus I was hungry, so I was very testy. We had to go to two different stores because the wal-mart in our area doesn’t sell fresh fish. I was just DONE. So we had yet ANOTHER argument. We both said a lot of things in anger, but this time was different than usual. Usually, we say really hurtful things to each other, which then makes the arguments last for what seems like forever. This time, we stayed on subject, didn’t call names we just had an argument. Eventually, we ended up hugging and apologizing and moved on.

            I was so convicted though, because my behavior in the store was not something that brought honor to my husband, and I had just finished blogging about that. I also only did one load of laundry, knowing that there were at least three more loads in my bedroom. So yesterday, I did not live up to even my own expectations of being a good wife, but I’m not giving up. Today is a new day!

E: Encourage Him:

I talked a lot about this in letter “B” for “Believe in him” but encouraging your husband is really important too. My husband can get really discouraged when it comes to his job, our finances, the state of our house (which is really old and falling apart). When you live in a state of discouragement, you eventually become depressed. Now we as parents know that no matter how depressed we get, we have to keep going to work, providing for our families etc, but it can be hard to do when you are always down. When you feel that you are stuck in a cycle and just surviving rather than living it can be extremely difficult. Even though men are “supposed to be” tough, and strong, and never give in, they get discouraged just like we do. Most of the time though, men won’t talk about it in the way that women do. You see a change in his behavior. He may sleep more, want to be intimate less often, seem to have a “who cares” attitude.

            To combat that, as a wife, I am trying to keep a good attitude about our current state. Even though the house drives me crazy, even though our vehicle is acting up and that upsets me, even though our finances are very stressful, I try to be encouraging. I’ve been watching my husband’s attitude very closely, and when he says something negative about the home, I tell him “it’s ok we will get through this together” or “it’s no big deal, at some point all of this will work itself out”. I don’t do this because I’m such an awesome wife, but I do it because I understand what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone and eel like you are alone. I get what it’s like to feel scared and helpless, to feel tired, exhausted and like things are never going to get any better. I say the things to him that I would want to hear. This also makes it so that when I’m having these same thoughts and feelings, he knows better how to respond to me, and how to comfort me. Everybody needs encouragement. Your husband isn’t weak because he gets depressed, neither are you when you get depressed. You are just human beings. Even when it’s hard, be an encouragement. A lot of times, I find myself saying encouraging things to my husband that I don’t really mean like “it’s going to be OK”. Honestly, I don’t know that it’s going to be OK, for all I know, everything could fall down around us, but after I say these thing, I pray. I ask God to make everything Ok. That’s all I can do sometimes, but I don’t ever want my husband to feel that he’s alone in our relationship. Have you ever felt that way? Like you are just alone in your relationship, that your spouse doesn’t understand you? Not only do you become depressed, but then when someone else seems to understand you, you become bitter at your spouse for not being as understanding as this other person, and you put yourself in a BAD situation, as you can become attached to this other person because “they understand my feelings”. So slam that door. Don’t allow for that to be an opening for anyone else to come into your relationship. If you are a man reading this, I definitely encourage you to encourage your wife. Women are so emotional, and we do get attached to people who show us love and understanding. Don’t allow an opening into your marriage for someone else to fill.

E: Expect a LOT of yourself.

            I don’t know one woman that doesn’t have a busy life. We are overwhelmed with things to do. We work, watch the kids, clean the house, make dinners, drive everyone to their destinations, take care of sick husbands and kids etc. We are busy, and tired. Eventually though, at least in my case, I started to expect next to nothing from myself. As long as I made it through the day, everyone was alive and everyone got to where they needed to go, I figured I had done my part. So, with low expectations of myself, I pretty much was able to reach those expectations on a daily basis, but then when I couldn’t meet said expectations, I would feel horribly depressed. What I’ve realized, is that my standards are too low. Like the old saying says “shoot for the stars, so if you miss you land in the clouds”. At the time, I wasn’t even shooting for treetops!

            Now, every day, I wake up having certain expectations of myself. I expect to clean our room, do at least 4 loads of laundry, take care of the kids well, play with them, be dressed and have my hair done before my husband gets home, and have done in a timely manner. Do I get all of this stuff done regularly? NO WAY! There are days that I do and I fee GREAT! There are days that get even more than that done and I feel ecstatic! But even when I don’t get all of those things done, I prioritize so that I can feel good about what I have gotten done. One of the things that I’ve made sure to do on a daily basis is make sure that I am clean and well dressed when my husband gets home. The thing is, he may have to come home to a messy house because I just can’t get it done all in one day, he may have to come home to cranky children because I can’t control their mood, but he doesn’t have to come home to a frumpy wife. THAT is something that I CAN control. Every day, I start getting ready about an hour and a half before he gets home. Not because it takes me an hour and a half, but rather because I know there will be a lot of interruptions. I have the kids to contend with, the telephone rings, someone shows up at the door unannounced (if you follow my blog you know how much I hate that), or the clothes that I’ve picked out don’t fit quite right or don’t look the way I want them to. An hour and a half gives me time to get all of these things together.

            Another way to set high expectations is to make a list. Divide the list into three different parts. One part needs to be things that MUST be done THAT DAY. Another part is things that are high priority but don’t necessarily need to be done that day. The final list is one that has things on it that need to be done that are of lower priority. Each day, get all of the things done on your first list, and try to get at least two things done from each of the other lists. I’m not a big list maker. Even my grocery lists could use some work, BUT lists not only help you to keep track of what needs to be done, but it can also be a good way to communicate with your husband later. When my husband gets home, I like to tell him the things that I’ve done that day. While I would love it if he would just notice on his own, I’ve come to accept the fact that he doesn’t notice things like I do, so if I want to feel appreciated, if I want him to say “thank you”, then I’m going to have to tell him what I’ve done. One piece of advice is don’t SHOW him the list. Some men have a tendency to hone in on the things that haven’t been done rather than the things that HAVE been done. Plus, he might say something like “you know you should add these 20 other things to your list” and that will probably make you angry or it will depress you. So keep the list to yourself, just memorize what you’ve done and share it with him.

            Ok that’s it for today. Thank you to all of those who have continued to read along with me. Also, please remember to pray for our family as we are still struggling with me being laid off and of course the devil is ready to charge being as we are working on being a more Christ-centered family. The Devil would like nothing more to see our marriage fail and our family ripped apart, so please keep us in your prayers. Also, I will be praying for anyone who is trying to take this on as well. So if you are trying to improve your marriage, or you are doing these things with me, please feel free to let me know so that we can make sure to pray for you on a daily basis!

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