My running schedule has been light, but consistent- usually 1-2 days a week. I feel good about that and am enjoying the time I find to run more and more. Part of this is surely that I’m getting more comfortable just zoning out and listening to nothing but the thoughts in my head. However, there are still times that I need a little something more for my brain to focus on. In those cases, I turn to podcasts. Recently I was listening to Rise Together, a podcast done by Rachel Hollis (author of Girl, Wash Your Face and the newer Girl, Stop Apologizing) and her husband, Dave. In this particular episode Rachel shared the 5 ways that she shows up in their marriage for Dave.
It got me thinking about my own marriage and what I’ve learned along our journey. While there are a lot of things I’d love to discuss about marriage (it’s one of my favorite topics and I love sharing peeks into my own marriage), I was inspired to narrow in on this singular topic and share three ways I’ve learned (often through trial and error) to show up for David. I would love for him to share his perspective on this too, like Rachel’s husband did, but for now, here is my side and my take on three ways to show up for your spouse.
ONE: Tell them you appreciate them.
Aren’t we all apt to take the little things for granted? I know I am. I used to have a habit of mentally keeping score to see who was doing more. I always won (no, it wasn’t skewed at all thankyouverymuch). And what did that win me? Not a darn thing. Well, maybe some resentment.
Then I asked myself- would I rather win this “who does more” war? Or would I rather be happy? Spoiler alert: happy won. I know I married a hard working man, so why should I waste time trying to quantify and compare our daily tasks? I found once I started noticing what he did do instead of always searching for what he didn’t do, life got sweeter. Suddenly all those things I was taking for granted became more apparent.
Thanks for depositing those checks. Thanks for driving when we travel. Thanks for rubbing my feet when we watched that show. Thank you for not complaining when I made you eat quinoa and roasted vegetables for the second night in a row. Thank you for changing the air filters. Thank you for fixing the sprinklers. Thank you for all you do that I sometimes forget to notice.
I found that when I start with gratitude without an expectation of being praised in return, it makes for a happier marriage for both of us.
TWO: Do what you can for them.
I make David breakfast most mornings. If I don’t make it, I made sure there is something he can easily grab. He is a grown man and very capable of making his own breakfast, but that’s not the point. I like to think of it as a little way that I can start his day off by saying I love you. Is this right for everyone? No! Sometimes it is the other way around. When I was growing up, my dad would make my mom coffee and bring it to her while she was getting ready in the morning. What a beautiful way to start off the day by saying hey, I love you!
Maybe it’s making their coffee, doing the one task you know they despise, picking up their favorite item when you see it at the grocery store, restocking their toiletries when you see they are running low, scratching their back while watching a TV show, or taking the car in for the oil change. This may be the most appreciated by those with an acts of service love language, but I’d argue that we all like to feel a little taken care of sometimes.
THREE: Let go of the small stuff.
(should I go ahead and add in the “and it’s all small stuff” part?). We all get frustrated by work, or lack of sleep, over an over-scheduled week and it’s perfectly normal to not always be our brightest and shiniest selves. But when I catch myself being snippy about stupid things (IE: ugh… you left your empty La Croix can on the living room table again? Seriously, the hamper is RIGHT THERE, why can’t you get your shirt in it?), I give myself a gut check. Does this really matter? Usually the answer is no.
That’s not to say to never speak up, but I find if something really drives me crazy, it’s usually not best addressed when I’m feeling ticked off about said thing. So instead, I bring it up during a neutral time when it’s more likely not to be wrapped in sarcasm and accusatory tones.
As I was typing some of this, a nagging voice in the back of my head said “brace yourself for 1950’s housewife backlash.” So let me share something: I am ALL about woman power. I’m raising two GIRLS for goodness sake and I want them to know they can be and do anything that lights them up inside. But treating your husband well isn’t anti-feminism. Just like a husband honoring and supporting his wife isn’t anti-masculine. It’s about loving the people you love, and doing it well, and there is no shame in that, just a lot more happiness all around.
Bonus! – Take care of you.
I’m going to lay a little truth on you that you’ve never heard before. Ready? … You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Yup, just sit for a second and let that BRAND NEW PHRASE soak in. Jokes aside, it’s so true, isn’t it? I used to try and make small sacrifices that David never even saw as sacrifices (LOL). Truly, I’d save $2 at the grocery store by not buying pre-cut veggies then get ticked when he wasn’t appreciative that I saved money by spending an extra 30 minutes of my life chopping up a butternut squash.
Y’all, that’s just silly. 9 years into marriage I’ve learned that what David wants the most? A HAPPY WIFE. Happy wife; happy life. It’s true. So now I take the little shortcuts when I can and I treat myself well because when all is well with my soul, it naturally overflows into our marriage.
I love blog posts and podcasts and books that make me think and evaluate my own life. I am constantly striving to live better and I find that is only accomplished by being willing to explore my own shortcomings and strengths in various life circumstances. As my dad always says- the unexamined life is not worth living. OK, it might have originally been said by Socrates, but I’m pretty sure my dad made is famous 😉
Share with me!
What strengths do you bring to your relationship?
Where do you struggle?
In what ways to show up in your marriage?
Love this one! And I agree with you completely, treating your husband well isn’t anti-feminism. It’s just being good to the person who is good to you, because you love them and you want to! I think marriage has gotten easier the farther into it we are. The first year was hard for us, with trying to merge finances and lives and get to know each other more (we married very quickly). Then we went through fertility struggles that tested us in new ways, and then of course having and raising babies puts a whole new spin on things. Our kids are almost 4 and 5 now and our marriage feels the strongest it’s ever been. But there will always be tests…some day we will go through something even harder than what we’ve already gone through, I know that because pain in life is inevitable. So in the meantime, I’m going to love my husband hard and enjoy the good! Anyway, all that to say, this post resonated with me and I love how real you are about the hardships of parenting and being in a partnership 🙂
Brittany Dixon says
Thanks so much for thoughts, Liz! I love hearing how you guys have grown together through the challenging times and are stronger than ever. <3 I feel similar to you, as I know there will be more challenges to come (that's life), but grateful for a partner that is committed to working through them together. 🙂
Great advice and nicely broken down. I especially love the part about ‘loving the people you love well’.
Great post, thanks for sharing! I have a lot of the same specific “thank-you’s” for my husband that you do for David, although this was a good reminder for me to be more vocal about those thank-you’s. I struggle with being too direct sometimes (some may say “bossy”:) ). I am not the type that doesn’t ask for help, but sometimes those requests sound more like orders, and not in a nice way. I don’t realize how harsh I sound until I hear it said back to me. There is also a palpable dynamic change in our household when I go from working during the school year to staying home with the boys for the (albeit short) summer. It takes at least a week to adjust on both ends. I am more comfortable as a working mom. When I am home I do feel more of the “household” responsibility falls on me, which seems okay in theory, but is still something I struggle with. Or maybe it is just the juggling of priorities (beyond keeping two young kids safe and fed) when I am not at work- is the day for doing something special with my kids, keeping house, working or keeping up with a home project or yard work, or taking the day to get a good workout and then relax as much as possible? Usually I bounce around with these priorities and try to find some sort of balance on a weekly basis. I know my husband is appreciative when I am home for the summer and he doesn’t have to come home to always do his laundry, mow the grass, pull weeds, etc., but in some ways we work more efficiently as a family and I am a happier wife/ mom/ woman when the division of labor is split. On Tuesdays during the school year, we both leave for the day at the same time, meet up at the gym on the way home to do a Body Pump class together, and arrive home, altogether (give or take a few minutes) 11 hours later (equally exhausted). I must say, while perhaps a little chaotic, I find some peace and comradery in the fact that we are in this together, and the responsibility of getting dinner out, while managing kid tantrums, dirty diapers, the unpacking/ packing of lunches, etc. is 100% shared. As difficult as teaching middle school can be, nothing is more stressful to me than feeling like I am alone in taking care of young kids. We have done well and have gotten better at working as a team in these stressful times and that is probably when I feel our strongest bond. At our best, we are unified in discipline, and supportive in our roles. Even when things are hard, it helps us to keep a sense of humor. The other day, it was past 6:30, dinner hadn’t gotten out yet, and both boys were crying/ fighting/ tantruming and the 2 year old wouldn’t let me put him down. My husband muttered something like “I can’t do this” (I was thinking the same thing) and I responded “well- should be just quit?” We both cracked a small smile and carried on. I know it will get easier. I honestly don’t mind working long days, but the crying and getting dinner out while carrying a two year old is rough!!!! Having my husband there with me makes it easier and better.
John J. Stathas says
Great post, Brittany. You have addressed an important factor for long term marital bliss. To know your partner, be attuned to his/her needs, do the little (and big) things that need to be done, to look for, see, and compliment your spouse for positive efforts made all are important in creating a loving connection that will last. I am grateful that Sherry does those things so well for me and I try to measure up in kind.
I agree with it all….and me and my hubby are the happiest couple we know
Beautifully written and so true! Appreciation for the little things goes a long way—and knowing something I did was appreciated makes me want to give more. Your dad is an expert at expressing appreciation 😍
“treating your husband well isn’t anti-feminism.” Yes, girl, yes! Love this post, thanks for the reminder to take care of each other!
Yes. I hope you don’t get a backlash on this type of post, because it should never been considered a bad thing to be thinking of ways to treat those around you with respect and kindness. Whether that is your spouse, your child, your parents, your friends, yourself. I don’t think it is anti-feminist to be kind to your partner. I proudly call myself a feminist and fight for a world where we respect and hold space for each other regardless of any physical, mental, or spiritual differences. We all need to step up and care for each other and strive for relationships with mutual respect. Caring for your husband is not anti-feminist — it’s showing up for your partner.
Anyway, thanks Brittany, I always love your posts and your viewpoint on life. I think you have a very level headed approach to marriage and parenthood and I appreciate that. Keep up the great work 🙂
Love the first photo of the two of you — hope you have that framed somewhere! Great advice for any relationship in your life, I would think — friends, family, etc. as well as your partner.
I have a post it —- well, a few—- throughout the house at places i see them that say LOVE WELL. Do the best you can loving the people you love. In wholeheartedly agree with all you’ve written about.
One of my biggest struggles is that I always plan our social calendar. I often remind myself (and we’ve talked about it) that just because he isn’t planning the date nights and weekend away and family vacations doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to go. It means he doesn’t have time and/or he’s perfectly happy doing whatever i want and would rather i be happy anyway. One strength i bring to the table is planning & organization of the house/kids/family calendar/menu. I know dates like people know roads! One thing he brings to the table is his amazing attention to detail. Anyway- over the years one thing we have learned is the arguments or tears usually Happen when we don’t communciate well or clearly,
Especially on needs/wants.
Absolutely Love everything about this post!! Thanks for sharing 🙂