A guest post from a sister in Christ, Stephanie. I’m so thankful we can share our stories as we learn together on this road:
We got married in 2007, and we were so young (I was 20 about to turn 21, he was only 23), and still in school. I was lucky that in our first year, I had a job at a Christian bookstore, so I had endless access to great marriage books that I read when the shop was super slow or on my breaks. I ended up buying a lot of the books, and they are still in our library now, although some I’ve given away to other women I was encouraging in their marriages. But it was mostly from these books and some books I brought from home when I moved out that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my communication style.
In that first year, I was taken aback by how my husband would wait to do chores, and wouldn’t do them when I thought they needed to get done (which was as soon as I wanted them done – no matter what else he was working on or focusing on). So instead of trusting him to get them done on his own time, I nagged him, and when nagging didn’t work, I’d get angry and start a fight. I’d nag more and tell him that he wasn’t helping me out and then I’d jump to the conclusion that he just “didn’t care about me!”
LOL it was a funny cycle that just repeated itself whenever I got fed up with not getting things done my way. Thankfully, since I was working at the Christian bookstore, I was already reading marriage books trying to learn about how to have a good marriage, and almost all marriage books cover a section about nagging, and explain why it doesn’t work.
- Once I understood from reading a book about how to understand men, meet their needs, and communicate effectively with them – I started to simply just ask him to do something that needed to be done, and ask him in a respectful, kind way, and then give him the time and chance to do it.
If he procrastinated, he would realize it on his own a couple of days later, and then apologize to me and do it. He apologized and did it right away (faster than when I nagged) because he actually felt bad about not doing it when I had asked in such a sweet, kind, respectful way. My not nagging him (which was disrespectful) made him want to do things right when they needed to get done.
Now when I really need his help (which is a lot more often with two boys), he is so faithful and helps me so well and much more quickly than that first year when I’d nag and nag. The nagging created such a hostile, awful environment that I think it made him just drag his feet doing anything that I wanted to get done. But now he helps me immediately because I treat him with respect.
I realized that nagging him was actually dishonoring him, giving him the message that I didn’t feel like he was responsible enough to do and get things done on his own, without me standing over him. I didn’t believe he would be responsible enough to do things on his own. Nagging him was me treating him almost like a child, like an incapable man – that message was SO disrespectful!
There were also times when I’d just expect him to help me with something I needed to get done, or I’d be girly and feminine, and **hint** that I expected him to get something done by some vague time frame, and then I would get angry and even resentful when he didn’t do it. The marriage books I read in that first year also covered this topic of being direct with men, even though that felt masculine to me, and not like how women communicate with each other, it was actually what was needed for better communication in our marriage.
Being direct really is a more masculine style of communicating, so even though it feels awkward and unnatural for most women, it’s helpful to teach engaged couples or young wives that this is what their husbands will need from them. It’s not wrong, it’s not being demanding if you say it in a nice, respectful, gentle way.
Expecting our husbands to act more like a woman, to read our minds and understand our feminine hints concerning what we want, and then getting angry at them for not knowing, isn’t helping to create a healthy relationship within a marriage.
After we got those things figured out, we’ve still had tricky situations where I didn’t know how to breech a subject without sounding disrespectful, but now it’s MUCH easier to understand what each other needs or is thinking because we’ve learned how to communicate openly and honestly. It’s been a beautiful journey and I’m so grateful we’ve learned so much.