One of the best bits of advice given to me as a mother was to “catch your kids doing right” – positive reinforcement. So often we catch them doing wrong and are quick to point out their mistakes, but it is just as important, if not more important, to be on the lookout for that good behavior and are quick to offer praise when we see it.
Receiving praise is one of the fundamental building blocks to healthy self-esteem and strong character in our children – especially as their parents.
But what about with our spouse?
As women, we dream of our knight in shining armor to come riding up on his white horse whisking us away to our dream world of love, romance, and care free living. In the beginning (the very beginning) it is easy to see these alluring traits in our special someone because we are living in a state of romance as we are caught up in the momentary excitement when the relationship is brand new.
As I wrote about in a previous post, When the Spotlight on Intimacy Shifts, after we get married, and the dust begins to settle on our whirlwind romance, after a while we often find ourselves discouraged and even a bit bitter with our spouse and fading romance.
“You used to buy me roses and chocolates every day…”
“You used to tell me that I’m beautiful every day…”
“You used to be spontaneous and surprise me with candle lit dinners…”
Used to… used to… used to…
At some point as life gets comfortable the initial gestures of romance begin to fade away and real life begins to rear it’s sometimes ugly head… We women find ourselves left in the wake of reality and often struggle to see our husbands the way we once did. We had set the bar so high for our man that he is often left discouraged as he struggles to maintain his initial gestures of love while balancing the new pressures he is feeling to provide, and make a home for his family.
The bottom line is that men and women process the pressures of life differently. This is why communication is SO important in a marriage.
It is critical that you communicate with your spouse about how you are feeling. Let him know that you miss the special, spontaneous things he would do for you in the beginning.
Give him the chance to BE the man you want him to be and, give him the benefit of the doubt that he wants to be this man for you just as much as you do…
We women have the tendency to set quiet expectations for our husbands and then not so quietly share our complaints when he isn’t meeting our needs. Hmm… this doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?
How can we expect our guy to be what we need him to be if we are not telling him what we need him to be??
Is he just supposed to know?
So talk to your husband. Tell him what you need. But before you do, make sure you tell him what a great man he is and how much you love him. Remind him that you are in it for the long haul and you just need to share your heart and what you are needing in order to continue growing and moving forward as husband and wife. And don’t forget to make it an open forum! Be ready to hear his feedback too…
So now that you’ve shared your needs with him, and ultimately encouraged him in the process by reminding him what an amazing man he is, you have laid the groundwork for open communication as well as given your husband a chance to rise to the occasion.
Now, what I am about to tell you may just change your life and your view on men and marriage so get ready…
Are you ready?
Here it is – Men don’t always get it the first time!
But seriously – we all know this… men, God love them (and He does), have a hard time “getting it” the first time around… that’s not to say he’s not going to start trying… but while you may be waiting for a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates to arrive at your work every day since your conversation he may be thinking more in terms of surprising you with your favorite candy bar (and in my case a stick of beef jerky) that he picks up from the gas station on his way home.
But this is where so many of us women go wrong (again) –we set our bar a bit high… not to say our guy can’t get back to resembling his more romantic self but it is critical that we acknowledge that this is a process. We have to be on the lookout for the efforts our husbands are making along the way… we have to catch our husbands doing good!
So instead of being discouraged that you didn’t receive a dozen roses and a box of chocolates at work today, thank him for thinking of you during such a mundane task such as fueling up the car… let him know how surprised you were and how special this made you feel – hey, it’s still chocolate right?
The point is – he is making efforts and while his definition of romance and yours might be a bit conflicting at the moment – at least he is trying which means he heard you when you shared your needs and he loves you enough to take strides toward growing your marriage and giving you what you need.
Catch your husband doing good.
Because if all you do is come home and yell at him for not sending you roses and chocolates he is going to get discouraged and feel his efforts are meaningless.
Positive reinforcement goes a long way in any relationship… especially in your marriage.
When you catch your husband doing good he will be excited and motivated to do even better until eventually his efforts align with your expectations.
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