Some ABCs for a Happy HomeIs this you and your spouse? “Thanks, Sweetie, but I was going to do that.” “You’re quite welcome, but it’s my pleasure.” “If you don’t mind, would you (fill in the blank)?” “May I (fill in the blank) for you.” “Why thank you, dear, you’re so kind.”
There’s been something on my mind the last few weeks. Perhaps my sharing is prompted by the Holy Spirit reminding me not to take for granted the way my husband and I communicate with each other at home. The pleasant way we talk to each other is so common that it is as second nature as breathing (most of the time anyway).
Last week I was watching Good Morning America and the Duggars (the Arkansas couple with 19 children) were on. I thought back to when I first saw them. They were on a special documentary program, not a regular series. Can you imagine there was ever a time when peoples’ everyday lives were not on everyday television? At the time they had only 11 or 12 children. I remember thinking “how in the world do all these people live in one house?” Several years later (I think by this time they had added another 4 or 5 children) I ran across something called the “Duggar House Guidelines.” And I thought to myself: “so that’s how they do it.”
Okay, so by now I’m sure you’re thinking I must really have too much time on my hands if I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about how the Duggars live together. But, please bear with me. This is not about the Duggars. This is about me and my husband and you and your spouse. This is about how each of us can, if it’s possible, and so far as it depends on us, live peaceably with one another.
This weekend my husband and I will attend a workshop on communication. I’m sure some part of the discussion will involve conflict resolution. If you research conflict resolution you’re likely to find anywhere from 3 to 7 what the experts call “Cs” of conflict resolution. Surely, you’ve heard them. Of course, communication is a given, although they don’t really list that one. But the top three after that are:
Compromise – In compromise: 1) each person gives a little, 2) each person gets as many needs met as possible, and 3) each person works for the good of the relationship, not their own desires.
Capitulation – When you capitulate one of you says “Let's try it your way. You decide that your relationship and your (that’s the collective your) happiness is more important than the issue at hand.
Co-exist – This is when you both simply “agree to disagree,” and move on. Mind you now, there are some things in marriage (or in any relationship) where an agreement must be reached. For instance, I think it’s okay to agree to disagree about who should get the ring – the Spurs or the Heat. Or, which is better on scrambled eggs – hot sauce or catsup. But other things, like whether or not it’s okay to date outside of the marriage, or whether or not it’s okay to spend 30% of the household income on golf outings or shoes, are a whole different matter.
I find it interesting that when you consult the experts, rarely when listing the C’s do they mention (oh no, she’s going to say it.... Wait for it… Wait for it…)
Counseling - Yeah, I said it. Get some help, people. If it’s a continuing conflict and the other C’s only work in spurts or aren’t working at all--get some help! Chances are you or your spouse have rehearsed your own opinion (in your own head and with the other as the audience) so many times, that you don’t even bother to have the conversation anymore. You just press “replay” and zone out completely. Get a fresh perspective. Find someone who can listen to both of you.
Now, going back that Duggar clan and those guidelines. The guidelines are 21 rules that all, in one way or another, go back to the basics, what our mothers and grandmothers taught us: “just be nice.”
That’s right. The most important C’s are far more basic and not nearly as deep as we try to make them. I’ve broken “nice” down into some ABCs below. Certainly this list is not exhaustive, but you can take the challenge to find more ways to “C” yourself in a happy, harmonious household. Please note these are in no particular order other than as they come to me.
Always Be Courteous. “Please” and “thank you” are far more effective when spoken than when implied. Say the words. Mean the words. Don’t let your spouse wonder.
Always Be Considerate. If you don’t want to live alone, don’t act as if you already do. It is not considerate to have the TV at its highest volume while watching the game. Also, neither is interrupting your spouse with idle chit chat or with matters concerning heavy duty concentration while they are watching the game--just to be clear. Always think (consider) how your actions, or lack of actions, will affect the rest of the household.
Always Be Complimentary. Show some appreciation for how good your spouse looks in those new (or old) jeans, how tasty the meal is, how clean the house or car is. Find a reason to compliment your spouse. But make sure you’re sincere. False compliments are all false and no compliment. And remember, spoken is so much more effective than implied.
Always Be Complementary. You can’t complete your mate and your mate cannot complete you. But, you can complement them so that together the two of you make a great “one.” None of us have it all together all the time. Complement your spouse by building them up where they’re down and filling in where they are missing.
Always Be Compassionate. Take note if your spouse has had or is having a bad day. Care enough to ask how they are doing and take the time to listen. Offer some Comfort. It might be in the form of a listening ear, an affirming word, or a foot rub. Just care.
Always Be in his/her Corner. Be your spouse’s greatest advocate. Don’t get so focused on whether or not you agree with them. Just be supportive. Have the mindset that even when you’re fighting, that you are fighting “for the relationship,” not against each other. When one of you wins, you both win.
Always Be Content. In everything give thanks. Learn to be grateful. Don’t be a complainer. It really does not look good on anyone.
Always Be Christ like. Wow. That’s a mighty tall order. Hard, yes. But He is right there waiting to help you. Meditate on Ephesians 4:12, which says “…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” So you have a hard time remembering bible verses? Just remember what your grandma taught you, “be unto others, kind and true, as you would have others be unto you.”
See, it’s really as simple as A. B. C. Or at least, it helps!
Louise and her husband Norris have been married almost 28 years. They are members of Ben Hill UMC where they both sing in the Majestic Choir and are active in the Couples Who Care ministry.