I have talked to countless people about improving their marriage. Those who come to me in state of ‘semi-crisis’ inevitably have a conversation with me that sounds something like this:
Husband: “The thing that is so frustrating about my wife is (insert wife’s character weakness). Doesn’t she realize that I (insert husband’s positive character quality)?
Wife: “That’s true, but the thing that he ALWAYS does is (insert husband’s character weakness) without even considering that I always (insert wife’s positive character trait).
The problem here is that each spouse takes the things and attributes that are net POSITIVES to the marriage and family (while ignoring their own weaknesses) and compare them to the things and attributes of their partner that are net NEGATIVES (while ignoring their spouses strengths). Think about it, in every marriage one partner is going to be the free spirit and the other is going to be the most organized. Each brings great things to the marriage, and each brings things that make marriage and family more challenging. When the free-spirit praises their creativity at the expense of the organizer’s weaknesses, say rigidity, marriage tensions raise. When the organizer praises their skill at administering the family’s resources a the expense of the free-spirits weaknesses, say spending too much, arguments are inevitable.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COMPARISONS TO YOUR SPOUSE:
1. Both you and your spouse bring outstanding great qualities into your marriage that are vital for marriage success
2. Both you and your spouse are flawed and bring weaknesses and selfishness to the marriage. Part of marriage is helping each other through those weaknesses.
3. Often (not always) the things that you are great at exist in direct opposition to the things that your spouse is not so great at, and that’s a good thing. This is how you fill in your partner’s”gaps”, and guess what? That’s how they fill in your “gaps” too! Wait a minute, what are gaps? This might be the most helpful marriage advise captured on film, and it’s from Rocky believe it or not.
How do you stop comparing and start filling in gaps? Decide right now that no matter what, instead of comparisons, you’ll speak truth. Instead of saying how great you are in comparison to you spouses weakness, appreciate his/her strengths. “I know I don’t say this enough, but I really appreciate __________ about you.”
When your spouse frustrates you, state it simply, “Honey, when you _______ it makes me feel ________. Please know that I love you no matter what.”
When you sense that you are frustrating your spouse admit it and ask forgiveness, “Darling, I feel like I am frustrating you right now, is it because of ____________? I am so sorry, will you please forgive me?”
How different would your marriage be if you used these gap filling statements instead of comparing your apples to your partner’s oranges?
Big Question: What is an area where you KNOW you frustrate your spouse? What can you do about it?