The 7 Words That Rescue My Marriage Everyday
I didn’t realize our marriage was in trouble or that I was in trouble. I loved him and he loved me, but somewhere under all the work and responsibility, we lost our plan.
I got everything done. I checked each task off the list. I was breathing, but I wasn’t living. I was knee deep in Cheerios ground into the rug and fingerprints and face plants on the glass. I was on calls or on the computer or at some child’s activity. I was many things, but what I wasn’t was present.
If you could see inside our home, you would see this:
- Three kids running in circles and me trying to work with a headset clamped to my ears with a phone in a precarious position in my bra.
- Me cooking dinner and maintaining a safe environment while the kids used their outside voices inside.
- Me leaping over legos and over sticky puddles of “experiments” that didn’t pan out on my way to the closet, where I took meetings silently hoping they wouldn’t find me when it was my turn to talk.
I did this day in and day out for years as my husband traveled the world for work and in and out of our chaos.
When he was home
When Mat came home, he was most concerned with taking a break on his chair.
He would sit there watching something while the kids continued to work, my plan to get dinner on the table while ensuring their health and safety. He would take off his shoes and socks. The odor would fill the air, and the shoes would sit in a place where I was most likely to run into them, but he wouldn’t move until dinner.
Until one night
I lost it. I mean I honestly lost it.
I placed a dish in the microwave. The dish shattered. My husband proceeded to explain why it happened. He went into a scientific discussion on the plate’s surmise. Yes, he is a nuclear engineer so I should have expected something of the sorts.
But what I wanted was something he did not give. He didn’t help clean up the disaster.
I then had that moment when you start to cry, and you aren’t sure why you are crying, but you can’t seem to stop. I was exhausted, broken, overwhelmed, and feeling alone. Being “alone” finally got to me. I was responsible for everything but his recliner.
When Mat saw me crying, he immediately asked me to sit with him. He said the words I needed to hear at that moment. The words that he still says to me every night. I wasn’t sure what to respond at first because I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly.
Why It Doesn’t Matter How Things Got This Way
We were a team, and we were in this predicament together. I had someone who was willing to help me.
On that night and every night since, my husband asked me, “What else can I do for you?” That is the one phrase that rescues our marriage every day. It is my time to say I need your help. It is his way of figuring out what he can do to help me.
We have a rule in our house. The rule is you can’t get angry unless you have asked and your request hasn’t been honored. It is a simple rule but one that has changed our lives.
On the night I lost it, my husband explained to me that he didn’t see me struggling. He thought he was in the way when he came home from work. He didn’t know how to help or what to do. He thought it was best to stay as far away as possible. He told me that he isn’t a mind reader, but he is happy to help because we are in this together. We are part of a team, and the most important job he has in this world is being my husband. He said, “You should know how much I love and admire you, but you should also know that I need directions and tasks.” I began to write a list and put it the refrigerator for him to start when he got home for work.
I was able to list everything that needed to be done for the day and I crossed it off as the day went on. Then when he came home, he was able to start where I left off. It has been several years since we retired the list, but my husband still asks me, “What else can I do for you?” When you love someone, you make sure you have done everything possible to let them know each day that they matter and that you are there for them. That is just one of the lessons that my husband taught me, and it is just one of the many reasons why we have been together for almost 20 years.
I highly suggest you try asking your special someone, “What else can I do for you?” or “Is there anything you need help with?” It is a simple and meaningful change that you can make immediately in your relationship.
Recently, we were both pleasantly surprised to find this technique in this book:
Mat and I both read this book because we are interested in continuing to grow together. When I married Mat, I told him I wanted to be one of those old couples that walked everywhere holding hands. We are on our way to forever because we stop each night and check in with one another ensuring that our needs our met. It isn’t enough to say, “I love you.” You must also show that person what you feel. The day that I lost it, our marriage was in trouble. But by asking each other this simple question every night, our marriage is now stronger than ever.
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