Last week I stumbled onto a Netflix show called “Love is Blind” and I, well, I got sucked in. It’s not a show I’d recommend, simply because it is incredibly superficial (think The Bachelorette) but it taught me something.
People are clueless on what it takes to have a good, strong, solid relationship. As I watched the stories unfold, I realized just how fantastic my marriage really is!
I had been thinking that my husband and I were a bit disconnected. In reality, Russ and I are crushing it.
The Netflix show also stirred up many emotions and feelings about marriage. How do people lose their love? How do they get it back?
Last week, I wrote about Kim, a woman who did some work on her own and turned her marriage around: Bringing New Life to Your Marriage.
Then I asked you to think about WHEN you fell in love with your husband in this post: When was Your “At Last” Moment?
This is an important, vital subject and if we truly want to build a Beautiful Family Culture, we must spend time on our marriages. Strong families are built around strong marriages.
If your marriage isn’t where you want it to be, sister, let me tell you clearly: you can change the relationship and make it beautiful. Yes, you.
As the woman, you hold the power in the relationship.
Why? Because husbands want to be respected and when they are respected, their whole goal is to please their wives. That’s how they are wired.
Men feel successful when their wives are happy.
The problem is, we don’t know it and we actually sabotage our own happiness and well-being.
I spent years tearing down my house with my own hands. There is a better way.
An essential first step is to give yourself the space and self love to become more of who God made you to be.
Let me explain with a story from one of my oldest and most-treasured books, “Living, Loving and Learning,” by Leo Buscaglia.
Leo was on a plane, ready to do some work; next to him was a beautifully attired woman. She seemed to want to talk and so Leo put aside his work and let her talk.
He asked her how she was doing and she let it all out in an “avalanche.” Her husband had left her after she had given him THE BEST YEARS OF HER LIFE.
“I gave him beautiful children! I gave him a magnificent house, and I always kept it clean. There was no dust anywhere!”
She went on and on.
The children were always on time for school.
She was a great cook and always entertained his friends.
She did everything perfectly.
Leo said, “I really felt sorry for this lady! Because all of the things she had considered essential were things that he could have paid for.”
I think that is a massive thought, don’t you?
Let me repeat that. “...all of the things she had considered essential were things that he could have paid for.”
She had lost herself in a role. “She had not given her husband what was essential about her...the magic, the wonder….the undiscovered self. She’d given him good food - he could have gone to a restaurant. She cleaned his sheets - he could have gone to a laundromat!”
So Leo, in his direct way, just asked, “What did you do for you?”
She was stumped. She didn’t know what he meant. He pressed. “What did you do for yourself?”
She said that there wasn’t any time to do anything for herself. So Leo asked her, “Well, what would you have liked to do?”
And she immediately responded that she always had a dream of throwing pots and making pottery.
Leo knew instinctively that she had lost the most essential part of herself in what she believed was important; the role of being a wife and mother.
He said, “If only she had thrown some pots….” But she stayed on her path, in her role. And she had lost herself in that role.
Then the story became, “Husband Meets Interesting Young Lady in Office” who isn’t interested in dust and doesn’t care a damn about clean sheets.
That story has always stayed with me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get lost in the role of feeding and watering the kids.
Do not misunderstand me. I am a stay-at-home mother. I have eight children. I love them dearly. I spend most of my days feeding and watering my children. But developing parts of ME is actually beneficial, not only to my husband, but to my children, especially my daughters.
(I spent a lot of time discussing that: Your Child Deserves the Best Version of You.)
So, let’s step back and take a hard look:
What is essential about YOU?
What are your needs?
As a woman, you want to give the BEST you that you have. You are unique in all the world. As Leo says, “Because there is no limit to you, you will always be exciting. You will always have something to share.”
The good news, “losing oneself” is always temporary. If you want to find yourself, if you want to develop YOU, there is time. You just have to start giving yourself permission to throw your pots.
Developing a self-care routine, where you take care of yourself, seems to be counter-intuitive.
After all, the man should make us happy, right? That’s in all of the fairy tales. But step back from that for a moment.
That’s an awful lot of weight to put on your man. “Make me happy.”
How about this: I will become the best and brightest, most spectacular human being and I will bring that to our married relationship?!
What guy wouldn’t want that?
So, what have you always wanted to do? Make a list of things that you enjoy or that you think you’d enjoy. What makes you happy? What gives you delight? What fills your spirit? What gives you energy?
The point is: think about what would give you pleasure. What would center you? Life is so gorgeous. Bring your best to the table by giving yourself permission to enjoy LIFE.
Now, this isn’t always easy, especially when we are surrounded with all that needs to be done. When Laura Doyle (in the powerful book “The Empowered Wife”) encouraged Marni to focus on some great self-care, she chose to fold laundry.
Laura was emphatic.
Folding laundry did not qualify as self-care.
Yes, it made Marni feel good, but folding laundry was a task that would eventually get done. That was the definition of a task. That’s not self-care.
What would feed Marni’s spirit?
Marni had a difficult time switching from caring for others to caring for herself. She simply didn’t think she had the time.
However, something cool happened in Marni’s life. Once she started doing things that were pleasurable, her whole world opened up, or in her words, “My time expanded.”
It makes sense if you think about it. Sometimes we get all tense about Everything That Must Be Done, but when we take the afternoon and have coffee with a good friend, we return to the tasks with a lighter heart.
Focusing on yourself is not selfish. It’s actually incredibly practical. Focusing on yourself feeds and replenishes something essential.
Again, many women are like the woman on the plane. They do all of the things. They don’t even know who THEY are anymore, they are rushing around making everyone else happy.
I know it sounds crazy, but focusing on something in your life that fulfills you will actually explode into your married relationship.
I will give you a personal example; my husband Russ has been getting more involved with something called Small Groups in our church. For about six months or so he has met with a core group of about ten people, learning how to facilitate a small group.
The goal: to have those ten each reach out to about ten people from our parish and build a more personal relationship with them through prayer and fellowship. (Then they will eventually be invited to branch out and form their own small groups, allowing deep relationships be the foundation of our already amazing parish.)
Well, Russ has been having his small group of about nine guys over to our house early on Saturday morning. I’m not exactly sure what they do, but afterwards, Russ has been on cloud nine. He loves those guys and he has been fed immensely from that time with them.
My husband has been happier and he feels alive on a new level. He looks at me differently. All because he started doing this new, exciting thing.
Guess what else? He has become more attractive to me, simply because he is developing something vital on his own. I like what I see. I like how relaxed he is. I love his joy.
That makes me happier. And yes, he looks hotter now.
Does that make sense? So going out and doing something “just for you” is actually critically important to your married relationship.
So, if you are feeling a bit lost or grumpy or out of sorts, sit down. It’s not your husband’s job to make you happy. You are in charge of that. Make a list. What would you like to do? What would make you feel more centered?
Do you want to try a certain fitness class? Do you want to be a fitness instructor? (Why not?)
Do you want to learn how to play piano or guitar?
Do you long for womanly friendships? Is there a BIble study or group you could join at your church?
Start writing down whatever comes to mind.
What makes me happy? Here’s my current list:
You’ll know that your self-care regime is working when you show up for life in a better mood. You laugh more often. Your corners become softened.
Get out a piece of paper. Or pull out your phone. Write your list. And then commit to doing at least three things from that list every day.
You are unique in all of the world. You have an undiscovered self. You are full of wonder and there are amazingly essential parts of you, just waiting to be unleashed.
It is not selfish. Taking care of yourself is gloriously life-giving and will make you naturally more attractive!
Find Your Happy. Go throw some pots.