If I told you one simple thing you could do to improve your marriage, would you do it?
As a boy growing up in Peoria, Illinois, I would often ride my bike up and down the street. I can recall one couple I would see often as I rode by. He’d be working under his car in the driveway and she’d be out there sitting on a stool, smoking a cigarette, doing her nails, or just chewing gum. There was no other woman around. He was under the car, and she was saying nothing while he worked.
I believe this woman discovered a simple way to improve her marriage.
For some reason, I always remembered that couple. In fact, years later as I thought about them, I realized something. Many couples on our block divorced, but this couple never did. Somehow, she understood that just sitting there with him and saying nothing while he worked was a positive thing. She bonded with him even though they weren’t talking.
She shares her heart face-to-face.
Have you noticed that men and women do friendship differently? Typically (and I realize there are always exceptions to the general rule), female friendship involves face-to-face talking and sharing. Best girlfriends share their hearts, dreams and frustrations with one another. Although they enjoy doing activities together, it is the close heart-to-heart sharing that binds them together as “best friends.”
He shares activities shoulder-to-shoulder.
Male friendship, however, generally involves activity or watching an activity shoulder to shoulder, without much talking (other than some commentary). Guys hang with other guys that enjoy the same types of activities or hobbies – anything from sports to computers to working on their cars. They are comfortable sitting shoulder-to-shoulder watching TV without talking…or working side-by-side at their favorite hobby. It is the activity that binds them together as “best buds” more than the conversation.
During dating, they put their best foot forward.
Generally, when a guy and girl is dating, they put their best foot forward and do whatever the other enjoys doing, as a way to get to know one another and even impress one another. A guy is willing to sit and talk face-to-face as he gets to know a girl, especially because she is attentively hanging on to his every word! And a girl is more than happy to watch her guy tinker on his car, just as a way to be close to him. Attending activities together and even going for walks hand in hand is all part of dating – and it works. They fall in love!
He’s preoccupied. She’s too busy.
But after marriage, things tend to get more complicated. The busyness of life creeps in and things become mundane. A husband can be preoccupied and quieter than when they were dating. And a wife is often too busy to sit and watch her lover tinker on the car or computer. Gradually, they drift apart…each irritated with the other for not taking the time to meet their need for face-to-face or shoulder-to-shoulder time.
Who goes first?
When a husband moves first and takes time to talk face-to-face with his wife, his wife is more motivated to be shoulder-to-shoulder with him without talking. Conversely, if a wife moves first and chooses to be shoulder-to-shoulder with her husband without talking, her husband is more motivated to be close and talk face-to-face with her.
Who goes first? The more mature one in the relationship. Ouch.
Get some of the spark back!
This isn’t a magic bullet and it’s not going to work instantly. The deeper the distrust in the marriage, the longer it takes. But eventually what goes around comes around, and just doing this one simple thing can put some of the spark back in your marriage!
Will you look for ways to be the mature one in your relationship this week?
Men, will you seek to meet your wife’s need for face-to-face time? Women, will you take the time to sit quietly with your husband at an activity of his choice…without talking?
I believe if you do this one simple thing, it will improve your marriage!
For more information on simple ways to improve your marriage, go to Love & Respect, Part Two: The Energizing Cycle.