I (Jake) will state right from the start what we all know but try to avoid expressing. Marriage is difficult. All relationships go through ebbs and flows and have periods where there things are seemingly easy and times when it seems like everything you do is criticized. Having been married for over six years I’ve noticed several keys that have helped us overcome the strong negative emotion when tensions are running high.
First, you must remember the early years of your relationship and what the newness felt like. There was undoubtedly a period where you felt strong passion and weak kneed, and where every single thought you had was for the other person. You saw something funny and couldn’t wait to share it with your spouse. You heard of a tragedy and needed the emotional support that came through from your other half. Remember these times when the tension of life is upon you.
You must remember your wedding day. You stood before most, or all, of the closest people in your life and said vows to each other (and probably God!) that you would be together through everything – the good and the bad. I hope we weren’t so naive that we thought there would be no difficult times! When you said those words “I do” there was almost certainly a crowd of people just to the side of you that you could see out of the corner of your eye if you cared. But you only had one person in your sight. You had eyes for only one person and your heart was full of joy and anticipation.
Why are these the moments you should remember during those years when you have kids running around? Or when your spouse seems to pick apart most of what you are doing and why you are doing it? Of even when you seem to be at your wits end with the nagging or judgements?
It is very simple.
That person that seems to dislike (or even disdain!) you still has a good heart for you. It may not seem like it, but believe me. Unless they are destructive or dangerous they would much rather repair the broken places in your relationship rather than leave and attempt to start over. Those early days seemed to come easy, but through the hustle and bustle of life we end up feeling neglected at best or despised at worst.
These things are repairable for sure. But both people have to be willing to lay down their arms, rediscover their humility and work hard at being loving.
The heart of your spouse is good towards you. This is where it begins.
The Keep It Simple Stupid rule is also in effect here. I’d suggest sitting down face to face and just start to let your heart open back to the good in each other by saying good and positive traits the other person has displayed. It isn’t difficult to see the good in someone when you are looking for it. The problem is it is oftentimes easier to see the bad in other people.