By Kristina Romero
Ladies, prepare yourselves. This is not going to be a superficial, simple list where we tell you the secret to being a great wife is just about you being pretty and sweet at all times. This advice is about the elbow grease of love and taking responsibility for your words and actions.
#1 Stop And Reflect
Why did you choose to get married to your partner? What kind of wife did you vow to be and what kind of wife have you turned out to be? Stop for a moment and reflect. Taking stock of where you are at is a valuable tool in moving forward and becoming the partner you dream you can be.
#2 Learn Your Partner’s Love Language
Read: “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” by Gary Chapman. If you are a co-worker, friend, parent, sibling or child, this book will help any relationship you have throughout your life. Knowing how to listen for and observe the things people do to determine their Love Language will be an invaluable skill, and will be one of the most powerful tools in helping you be an awesome wife, partner, friend and person. Likewise, this education may save you from perpetrating the harmful words or actions that can have devastating effects on your relationships or may be sabotaging your best efforts.
#3 Don’t Belittle Your Partner In Public (heck, don’t do it at all)
Early on in my marriage I learned just how hurtful it was for me to make fun of my partner in a public setting. I was new to Australia and the larrikin nature of my new country made me think that everyone made fun of everyone else and it was a way to fit in. I was wrong. It’s ok for other people to make fun of your partner and they can take it on the chin. Coming from you? It just looks like abuse. It’s embarrassing, demoralising and rude. If you do it in private, you may want to ask yourself: why are you doing it at all? You know the saying “sticks and stones…?” We all know that’s crap. It hurts to hear hurtful things, even as a joke—especially when it comes from someone we love. So let’s just stop, because it’s not actually funny.
#4 Offer To Help
I know we’re all busy. We also tend to think we’re all entitled. We are the ones who are working full-time, picking kids up from day care, doing the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, and trying to be the ideal woman at all times, right? I haven’t heard any of my friends stop to say, “You know, I think of all of the things he does in a day and I just feel badly that I never offer him any help.” In fact, it’s generally quite the opposite. “He never does such and such!” or “Why can’t she just finish such and such?” Is it possible your partner doesn’t ever lift a finger or do anything to make your life any easier? I doubt it. I think it’s more likely that we are taking them for granted and haven’t stopped to take stock of what they do, whether we’ve previously noticed it or not.
#5 Make An Effort
Feeling unattractive, lethargic or grumpy is not fun for our partners or ourselves, and brings no benefit to our relationships. Get active and get those endorphins going, do your nails, buy those shoes you think are too luxurious to justify but will make you feel like a vixen, do a clothing swap with a friend, or make an appointment for a haircut/colour. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as it creates happiness for you.
#6 Take Time For You And Make It Count
You know how you say looking at Facebook for an hour is your downtime or watching TV helps you to unwind and it’s ‘the only time you really have to just do what you want to do’? Well, are these the activities that actually replenish you? They might help you to unwind from your day or detach from the stresses of life, but I don’t know anyone that gets soulful replenishment and joyful relaxation from these activities. Dissociative disconnection is not rejuvenation. The time that you take for yourself should be something that you do where you feel recharged after doing it. If you want to take a bubble bath, maybe refrain from doing it during a time when the kids can bang on the door, come in and drop their toast in your bubbles. If you want to go for a walk, maybe plan it so that you have enough time to get that feeling of disconnect from the stresses of your life (rather than hurrying through your 30 recommended minutes of activity, thereby adding to the stresses you already have). What makes you feel like you’ve had a moment to yourself to find that peace? Have a think of what that might look like for you and carve out a bit of time to give it a try. It doesn’t have to be everyday—occasional time out is better than no time out.
Your partner might not get that you feel the need spend hours on the phone having ‘girltalk’ time, just like you might not get his need for fantasy football. Whatever it is your partner does for their ‘me’ time, honour their time to do as they please as you would honour your own. Do not hold how they choose to spend their time (or who they spend it with) against them. You both need time out to be your own person and replenish your own spirit.
#8 Hug and Kiss
I bet if you asked 10 of your closest friends if they felt like they got enough hugs and kisses from their partners, they’d say “no!” I believe it is much harder to have a bad day that begins with a ‘good morning’ kiss; am I right? If you’re feeling angry with your partner, sometimes a hug helps you to be that much more tolerant and move past the anger. A sweet little kiss makes you feel more connected to your darling. I contend that my partner’s hugs are as therapeutic as a glass of wine at the end of a long, hard, crummy workday. Hugs and kisses: simple, but so sweet and powerful.
I know this is boring, cliché and obvious, but seriously? We aren’t communicating enough and even if we think we are—we can always improve on our communication style. Functional communication is vitally important to keeping the love alive and well; so invest your time, effort, energy and intention into cultivating excellent communication within your marriage. This piece of advice is the tip that a majority of people are most fearful of. It takes a lot of vulnerability. It means talking about things out loud and sharing things that might upset our partner and perhaps yourself in the process. I promise that the reward for your hard work will be a happier, healthier, more functional marriage.
Need help addressing this one? Get a psychologist, pastor or marriage counsellor to help you take the step to developing healthy communication with the love of your life. You are married: you have vowed to work together, through everything that comes your way, hand-in-hand, side-by-side until death do you part, right? There’s no time like the present to honour those vows.