Reaching “The Bar” Within Marriage
by Amy Martin
When I was a little girl, I used to dream of getting married someday—as I’m sure many young girls do. I would dream about marrying a man that had all the best qualities imaginable, and then some. Now, I can’t vouch for men, but I imagine as young boys they set the bar pretty high for their future wife as well.
I was just 21 when I married my husband and I would say he did pretty much measure up to my expectations. He was indeed the one for me. Obviously, though, he is not perfect and neither am I, so living together now as husband and wife was a little rough at first. We both had different ways of doing things, different opinions of what a clean house looked like, what to watch on the television, you know just basic roommate challenges only magnified a little.
One thing that used to drive me crazy when we first got married was how my husband loved falling asleep with the television on. He would say, “It helps me sleep better.” Say what! How on earth can the television help you sleep?! I, on the other hand, love nothing more than a dark, quiet room to relax and fall asleep in. We have learned over the years to adjust to our differences. I’ve learned to pull the covers up to my head to block out the sound and light from the TV at times, and he has learned to enjoy what a dark, quiet room can do for a tired Army soldier.
So, as a couple ask yourselves this, ”What differences in our marriage are keeping us from reaching the bar we first set when we got married? How can we let go, compromise, and grow as a couple?”
My husband and I joke sometimes about how surprised we are that we got married because we honestly don’t have a whole lot in common. I guess it’s true for us that opposites do attract! He is such an outdoors man, we would live in unchartered land in Alaska if I would let him. I’m not too fond of being out in the wild though—I hate bugs and dirt! I’m sure that was a huge disappointment when he found that out AFTER we got married.
Our first camping trip we went on as a married couple ended with us hiking through a massive blizzard in June and barely escaping a mudslide. That was 15 years ago and let’s just say we haven’t gone camping as a couple since.
We can, if we let ourselves, find a lot of disappointments in our spouse and in our marriage. I’m sure my husband would love me to be a little more outdoorsy just like I wish he wouldn’t sleep with the television on. One of the biggest factors in a damaged marriage is from raising the bar so high that your spouse has no chance of ever reaching it. Focusing your attention on where they lack, or what irritates you only makes it harder for them to ever reach your expectations.
Now, I’m not saying you should lower the bar or be less picky when you get married, but rather be a little more forgiving, a little more understanding, and a little more willing to compromise and find solutions to irritants or differences in your marriage. The most important thing you can do to make your marriage work is to love and serve your spouse. When they start to annoy you or say something that irritates you, stop and find a way to serve or love them. You will be surprised by how that irritant will dissipate and will not bother you near as much.
Don’t waste time fretting over open toilet seats, untidy bedrooms, farting in public (not saying my husband would ever do such a thing), time wasted on hair and makeup, or whatever else that really is silly when you stop to think about it. Just love your spouse, forgive your spouse, and find ways to bring your marriage to the bar that is within both of your reach.