Anyone who has been married for at least five years and still has a healthy and functional marriage, if they are being honest, will tell you that they have had at least one rough patch, probably more. Best selling author, Laura Doyle, wrote a very controversial book years ago, based on her experience with her own marriage that had reached the “divorce-point”. By following six simple principles, outlined in the book, “The Surrendered Wife,” she was able to not only avoid a divorce, but she was also able to experience marriage in a much more joyful and peaceful way.
Please be warned; if you have some sort of aversion to “submission” (as a lot of modern women do), these principles may rub you the wrong way but, having read the book that these principles are based on, I can assure you that while there may be some seemingly similar points, it is not the same. I also caution anyone reading these principles, not to dismiss them until they have tried them. What have you got to lose? Maybe…just, maybe…your marriage can change for the better.
The principles are as follows:
1. Do at Least Three Things a Day for Your Own Pleasure
Ladies, let’s be honest-being tired, hungry and overwhelmed are bad for you and they are even worse for your marriage or relationship. In order to be your best self, you need to be patient, compassionate and open to intimacy and that becomes less and less likely when you do not practice self care. Says Doyle,
“Self-care — focusing on your own pleasure — takes the pressure off your husband to make you happy (he can’t anyway). Your good mood also signals to him that he can succeed in delighting you, which inspires him to want to do just that. By treating ourselves well, we also teach other people how to treat us. Having fun every day is not only critical for a satisfying romance, it’s part of a life well-lived.”
2. Relinquish Control of People You Can’t Control
As Doyle puts it, “‘Helpful’ in wife language is controlling in husband language.” Seemingly helpful suggestions about how your husband should drive, dress or what he should do at work are just a masked way of telling him that he is incompetent, or at least less competent than you, which is why you are telling him what to do. Criticism and being controlling are a sure way to kill the intimacy in a relationship, no matter how good your intentions are. According to Doyle, “Intimacy needs safety and encouragement to thrive, and vanishes with criticism.” Give your man his space and let him run his own life. If you trust him to make the best decisions for himself, he most probably will and then you will be reminded why you fell in love with him in the firs place.
3. Receive Gifts, Compliments and Help Graciously
“Receiving is the opposite of rejecting,” says Doyle. Even if your man gives you a gift that is not exactly what you had in mind, be wise enough of a woman to focus on the fact that he thought of you and gave you a gift, rather than fixating on what you did not get. When he offers to bathe the kids, for example, accept his help graciously. He may not do it perfectly or do it like you do it, but remember that rejecting a gift, compliment or help greatly reduces the quality of your marriage and your life. The more gracious you are, the more gifts you are likely to see coming your way.
4. Respect The Man You Chose
If you find it hard to respect your man, it’s probably not because he does not deserve to be respected. You’re smart-right? You picked him-right? Well, if he seemed like a god choice when you married him, you should consider that the reason why he doesn’t seem that way now is that you have stopped focusing on his good traits and have shifted the focus onto his shortcomings. Doyle reminds us,
“A man who feels respected by the woman who knows him best also feels self-respect, which is far more attractive than cowering and hostility. Lack of respect causes more divorces than cheating does because for men, respect is like oxygen. They need it more than s*x. Respect means that you don’t dismiss, criticize, contradict or try to teach him anything. Of course he won’t do things the same way you do; for that, you could have just married yourself. But with your respect, he will once again do the things that amazed and delighted you to begin with — so much so that you married him.”
5. Express Gratitude Three Times Daily
Doyle puts it best when she says,
“Gratitude has magical powers. It turns an ordinary meal into a feast, an average relationship into a lifelong romance and an ordinary husband into your hero.”
Its easy to focus on all the things you do and start to feel like you’re doing more and that it is unfair. Why should you thank him when you do so much more? Well, there is a chance you have overlooked the many things he does and he feels just as unappreciated as you do. Be grateful and take every opportunity to thank your man when he does even the smallest things, like changing a light bulb. Another bonus is that you can’t be grateful and resentful at the same time.
6. Strive to be Vulnerable
“Intimacy and vulnerability are directly connected. If you want intimacy, then you’ll need to take the risk of admitting that you’re lonely, embarrassed or hurt. This is not the same as weakness; it actually requires great strength.
When you’re vulnerable you don’t care about being right, you’re just open and trusting enough to say “I miss you” instead of “you never spend time with me.” It means you simply say, “ouch!” when he’s insensitive instead of retaliating. That vulnerability completely changes the way he responds to you.
Vulnerability is not only attractive, it’s the only way to get to that incredible feeling of being loved just the way you are by someone who knows you well. There’s nothing like the joy of intimacy that results from vulnerability. It really is worth dropping the burden of being an efficient, overscheduled superwoman to have it.”
If any of the principles above feels like it’s “too much”, remember that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Marriage is no different; people with successful marriages are willing to do what people with miserable marriages (usually on the highway to divorce) are not willing to do.
These principles work-let me know about all the awesome changes you start to see as you practice them.
Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com