Being a Compassionate Spouse {Guest post} | Enduring All Things

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Being a Compassionate Spouse {Guest post}

I’m Amanda and I blog over at Notes from a Newlywed, where I write all about my life as a new wife. I share my views, thoughts, emotions and observations on my newlywed journey. From wedding planning tips to changing my name, having in-laws and trying to be a better wife, and even a few recipes and randoms thrown in there, it's all about what I'm learning along the way. 

Being a Compassionate Spouse

A few days ago, my friend sent me a link to a story on HuffPo with 30 ways to be a more compassionate spouse. Gotta admit: I’m guilty of breaking a lot of these. Chances are, we all are. 

Being a compassionate person, let alone spouse is hard enough. Because we live with our husbands and have grown so comfortable around them, we tend to take them for granted some days. In other instances, we may learn behaviors about how to act in a marriage from our parents or other family members. Heck, blame it on society or TV even. We humans can be impatient, judgmental and selfish characters. But if there’s one person in your life that deserves to be treated the best of anyone, it’s your spouse.

Yes, we also should be good, compassionate daughters, parents, sisters, friends, co-workers, etc., too, but your spouse is the one person you vow (literally! In front of God, and with signed legal documents!) to honor till death do you part. The person you tackle every single day with. The person you love very deeply. The person who deserves the utmost respect and compassion.

My two favorite tips from the article to show your spouse compassion are:

- Listen up and shut up. Oh, we humans have to have our voices heard, but being compassionate is about being there for someone else.
- Admit you're wrong. Swallowing your pride, seeing your screw-up, and being willing to say "I'm wrong," is one of the most compassionate things you can do.

I do think there are many things the list didn't even touch on. For instance, I can be a nag. I focus on the small things and never forget them. Sometimes in arguments I actually bring up that one time years ago when my husband didn't bring the new bookcase I had bought and was sitting in my car till days later. That’s not fair! So rather than bringing up old issues that have nothing to do with the current situation, focus in on the issue at hand, but always do it lovingly.

I am often unfair to my husband. I nitpick. He didn't load the dishwasher the way I like. He took too long to fix the squeaky door. He did X, he didn't do Y. But does that really matter? No. In those moments when I’m nagging or taking my anger out on him, I try to step back and remember what’s important. Is this really a big issue, I ask myself. Could he nitpick about the way I do things? Yes! But he doesn't. If he were gone tomorrow, the least of my worries would be the way the dishwasher was loaded. It’s far more important that we enjoy our time together and strengthen our marriage in a compassionate way. Sometimes I need to eat a big slice of humble pie. And while it’s embarrassing to admit how awful I am at times, it’s the first step to being a better wife.

Just the other day, as my husband was lighting up a cigarette, I almost started nagging once again about how bad it is and that he needs to stop. Which I've done a gazillion times. But this time I thought I’d approach my concerns in a constructive way. I said something to the extent of, “I understand that you smoke because you are stressed and it’s a habit that you haven’t been able to kick just yet, but I am worried that you’ll never quit, and it’s important to me that our future children have a father who doesn't smoke. What do you feel is holding you back? Is there something I can do to better support you?” 

Lo and behold, we had a real discussion about it and I gained a lot of insight into why he’s struggled quitting in the past and how badly he still wants to. In the end, we came up with some new ideas to try and kick his habit and I we really connected about it! If I had opened with “Ugh, there you go again! When are you gonna quit?!” that wouldn't have been compassionate. Finding compromises, ways to communicate effectively, opening up your emotions to connect on a deeper level, really actually listening and simply being there for your spouse is being compassionate. How can you get through life together if you can’t do those things? For me, those are the ways to have a healthy, happy marriage.

In what ways do you practice compassion in your relationships?
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