Let me start off by saying that I despise marriage challenges. This is for several reasons. The first being: it’s difficult for me to find one that doesn’t encourage women to continue martyring themselves. The second is that most of them are 45 days long and who has the attention span to do these things for FORTY-FIVE FREAKING DAYS? Not this girl.
However, I digress.
I somehow got added to a Facebook group dedicated toward a Marriage Challenge. I didn’t think much of this page until I noticed I’d been extra snappy at my husband and had cried after spilling juice on the floor, so I thought maybe I was due for one of these things. The first day of the challenge was simple, or so I thought.
“Do not make any negative comments toward your husband.”
I thought, well that’s easy enough. It’s just one day for heaven’s sake!
7:18 AM: I slept through my alarm and need to leave for work in 25 minutes. I won’t have enough time to eat breakfast. DOESN’T MY HUSBAND KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE BREAKFAST? I stumble downstairs, and we don’t have any coffee ready. I forgot to set it the night before. Did my husband not see this and think to set the coffee maker? UGH. I see Nyra dressed for school, her teeth are brushed, and she’s getting on her shoes. My sweet husband smiles at me and says, “Did you enjoy your extra time sleeping this morning?”
Whew, it’s going to be a long day.
2:42 PM: My husband texts me to tell me that it’s a little bit slow at work and he thinks he’s going to head home early. Normally I would say something along the lines of, “I mean, can’t you find something else to do? More hours is more cash for us!” Or even something a little passive aggressive like, “Must be nice to just get to go home if you’ve finished your work.” Why do I say things like this? I have no idea. Instead, I say, “Good for you! Get some rest – we have both been so exhausted.”
5:02 PM: I am still at work. I’m planning our dinner in my head, per usual. I’m thinking I’ll make some burgers and zucchini. The zucchini is about to go bad and then I’ll have wasted that $1.37.
5:27 PM: I heave my giant tote bag through the front door and kick off my 4-inch heels as quickly as I can. I hang up my blazer and yell to my husband that I am home and about to start dinner. He says he’s already started on dinner. He comes around the corner and says, “I stuck some taquitos in the oven and thought we could have those leftover red potatoes from a couple nights ago” with a smile on his face.
I’m instantly annoyed. My dinner was going to be at least partially green, and now my dinner is brown. Also- did he even consult me before making this dinner?! I had a plan! I would typically at this point say something like, “Um why did you make this? I already had dinner plans.” But instead, I said, “Thank you so much for going ahead and starting dinner. I’m starving.”
I hope you’ve begun to see the same pattern as I did: THESE THINGS DID NOT MATTER. They were not worth commenting negatively on, and I was shocked at how often my natural tendency was to complain. Letting things go, it seems, is remarkably healthy.
Every time I chose to not complain or say a negative word, I felt a little lighter. Like the weight of all of these things that were “imperfect” were being lifted by my silence. When I refused to acknowledge the bad, the good was far more apparent. I began to see my husband in a far more gracious light.
We laughed more. I took everything far less seriously. We were more affectionate. And every day that I choose to keep my mouth shut about things that don’t matter, life gets easier.
Try it for one day. Write down the things that you bit your tongue and didn’t say. A week later, review those things. Were they worth keeping quiet about?
As much as you can in your marriage, give away all the grace you have.