I asked Trisha Coleman if she would guest post On honoring the differences between men and women and choosing to have a happy marriage. Trisha (pictured below) is the wife of Dan and mother of Taylor, Cambria, Riley and Evan. (You might remember my post about her daughter Cambria and the funny things she says). She has a degree in Family and Human Development from Utah State and is currently developing a human family for free. She loves to eat artichokes, write poetry, and make funny music videos for loved ones when she is not doing laundry or finishing drywall.
So, there is this guy named Dan that I like to hang out with. He’s cute, cuddly, compassionate, and charming. I am lucky enough to be married to him and to spend each day taking care of the four delightful, though demanding, children we’ve brought into the world together. There were sooo many things I loved about Dan when we were dating. I won’t bore you with the list, because that is not what this post it about.
Choosing a Happy Marriage: Notice the Good
We have been married for ten and a half years now, and that list has expanded and deepened the more I’ve witnessed the depth of the soul of the man I married. But, here’s the thing. Dan has his quirks (he likes to own buses and van-trucks), struggles, and weaknesses, just like we all do. And if I wanted, I could be miserable in my marriage. But, after the first year or two of our marriage, which was spent learning more about each other- discovering the shocking truth that the person we married wasn’t actually perfect in every way- I made a choice. I chose to have a happy marriage. I chose to not let the quirks and struggles and weaknesses outweigh all the wonderful qualities that I knew he possessed before we got married and the many others I’ve discovered since. And we are happy. We are happy when we are poor and we are happy when we are not. We are happy when things are going well, and we are there for each other and find hope together when we face challenges. I adore him, and he thinks I’m amazing, and our life together brings us both great joy. But, to get to this point, there were plenty of learning experiences and bumps in the road. Probably the best example to illustrate my point would be Dan’s inability to accurately assess what time he will be home at the end of the day. For the first couple years of our marriage, I would be frustrated and annoyed with him regularly because he never came home when he said he
would. Lucky for me, it wasn’t because he was hitting the bars after work. He was usually at a drywall job and underestimated how long with would take him to finish up. Also lucky for me, I noticed a pattern. Dan was usually home about an hour and a half later than he told me he would be. So, I decided instead of being constantly frustrated and annoyed with him, I would just automatically add an hour and a half onto whatever time he told me he would be home and be pleasantly surprised if he got home any earlier. This simple change in my thinking had a remarkable effect on my marriage for good.
Choosing a Happy Marriage: Show Appreciation
Another simple, but critical component for happiness in marriage I’ve learned is appreciation. People can go a looong way on a little appreciation. For example: laundry. It never ends. Ever. It is always lurking around the house making it impossible for me to check it off my to-do list. But, I actually don’t hate laundry. You know why? Because Dan regularly opens his drawer full of clean socks and unmentionables, and says, “Honey, look at that. It’s just chuck full of clean socks and unmentionables and I didn’t even do a thing! Thank you so much!” So, I try to remember to tell him thanks for the little things, like getting my door, to the big things like working his cute little tail off to provide for us, because I know how it affects me when I hear it from him.
Honoring the Differences Between Men and Women
I think we have a tendency as women to be far more critical of others, especially our spouse, than men generally are. (This is a generality I realize there are some critical men out there as well.) I can probably count on one hand the number of times my husband has said something directly critical of me in our 12 year relationship. I wish he could say the same about me. The women’s movement, with all its wonderful accomplishments, has gone beyond the mark I fear- wanting not just to prove we are equal with men, but better. This idea is evident in the way men are portrayed in most sitcoms on TV. It is also running rampant in restaurants all over the world where women gather to make fun of their spouses’ seeming quirks and inadequacies. But, what if we were to tell our friends how great our husbands are instead of talking about how we can do laundry, cook dinner, talk on the phone, and answer homework questions all at the same time, while they can’t seem to answer a simple question while watching a basketball game? Indeed, our husbands’ ability to focus on one thing intensely for long periods may just be the reason we have food on our table every night. (And that is also is a generality because I have a brother-in-law who puts me to shame when it comes to multi-tasking.)
The fact is we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. If we choose to not be so critical of each other and instead focus on combining our strengths to complement each other, then we can truly be helpmeets, and there is no end to the good that can be accomplished when we are working together in the same direction. And there is no end to the joy we can experience when we choose not to let the world pit us against each other and instead commit together to let the Lord teach us what it really means to be one.
THANK YOU TRISHA!
Please comment if you would like to add to what Trisha has written. What principles/ideas have contributed to your happy marriage? If you could give someone else one piece of marriage advice, what would it be?