Did you ever do any school lunch trading when you were a kid? You know…you look in the lunch bag your mom packed and you find something you really don’t want. Something you would like to trade for something else.
Marriage can be that way. A few years into your marriage, you can find things in the marriage bag you didn’t really want. Things you wish you could trade for something else.
It could be that your spouse is more of a glass-half-empty type of person than you want them to be. Maybe they don’t even use a glass but drink straight from the carton. It could be your spouse believes bodily noises are part of the music of life, and they play that music loud. It could be they think conversation is to be the gift that keeps on giving, or they think conversation should be like tighty-whities…brief. It could be they think sex should be a celebration with parades and sky rockets, or they think sex should be more like going to the drive up window at the bank.
Whatever it is, there will always be things in marriage you wish you could trade for something else. The problem comes when these things get blown up to the point that we wanna trade the whole marriage.
If this is you, I want you to know I’m not here to beat you up or make you feel guilty. I personally think that every good marriage that goes the distance will have at least one time when one spouse looks at the other and thinks, “I don’t know if I can do this.” Honestly, marriage is not for the faint of heart.
But if every spouse finds things in their marriage they wish they could trade, how can you go through marriage without getting to the place where you wanna trade the whole marriage? I don’t want to scare you off with a long list, so let me boil it down to four things that will help keep you from saying, “I wanna trade my marriage.”
- Stay focused on the present…not the past or the future. So often we focus on our spouse’s past failures. Then we assume the future will just be more of the same. Learn to forgive the past and forego the future. Focusing on improving the present is the best way to make up for the past and prepare for the future.
- Give them the benefit of the doubt, rather than doubt their benefit. I grew up in the North. There, cars begin to rust from the salt used to keep the roads clear of ice. In the same way, doubting your spouse’s benefit will eventually rust out your marriage. I know…some spouses can make it hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. But sometimes they’re acting that way because they already sense you doubting their benefit. Give them the benefit of the doubt as much as you possibly can.
- Change what you need to change about you…not them. You may be thinking, “If they would just change those things about themselves that make me wanna trade, then I would be much more pleasant and loving.” But they’re thinking if you would do the same, they would probably be more pleasant and loving. Don’t wait for them to change. Take the lead on this one.
- Encourage your spouse they way they want to be encouraged…whether you get it or not. So you don’t see why they should need you to compliment them. Do it anyway. So you don’t see how sitting together on the couch and talking about the day should be such a big deal. Do it anyway. So you can’t understand why it’s so important to them for you to be more sexual with them. Do it anyway. So you don’t see how helping around the house could possibly be a turn on to them. Do it anyway. You are the only legitimate way for your spouse to get many of their needs mets. If you don’t…who will?
Though there are no guarantees that your spouse will jump on the same bandwagon, doing these things will improve your chances of having a marriage you want to keep. How do I know…
I got married when I was 21 years old and have been married for 34 years. I have two grown daughters with marriages and kids of their own. At 55 years of age, I’m obviously loosing my fight with gravity and my recliner has become one of my best friends. My wife and I have gone through moving away from home, career changes, major health issues, raising teenagers, and a host of other difficulties. There are still things about us that frustrates the other to the point of madness. But with all of that…if someone told me I could trade my marriage in for a younger, exciting, sexy marriage, I’d say, “No trade!”
Here’s hoping you will feel the same about your marriage.
Leave a comment and share how you get past the “I wanna trade” times in marriage.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg