It’s a bit of a joke that we women tend to fall in love with a man we think is perfect, but as soon as we marry him, we start trying to change him. We want him to dress better or clean up after himself or quit a bad habit or get a better job or find a new hobby. We nag him, or complain to our girlfriends, or ask him to read a book that will surely make him see the light.
However, that doesn’t usually result in the changes we want.
I’ve been watching marriages for years (since I was a kid), pondering what makes two people stick together in love and happiness through the their lives. I’ve noticed one trait that distinguishes happy marriages. It’s acceptance. Simply accept your husband for who he is, without trying to change him.
I first noticed this trait in my aunt and uncle, in a conversation when I was probably around ten or under. My aunt and uncle love going scuba diving, and return home to share their trips with us via slide shows every Christmas or Thanksgiving. My uncle takes the pictures and runs the slide show while my aunt tells us all about the fish and undersea creatures we’re seeing. (After a couple of decades about this, I can quite proudly identify a nudibrank and Christmas tree worm and lion fish and a few other species all on my own.)
In this particular conversation, they mentioned they had done their scuba training near Victoria, BC. Yet now they always jet away to Hawaii or Fuji to dive. I asked my uncle why they didn’t dive in Canada more often.
He replied with a smile and a shrug, “Because she doesn’t like cold water.”
His answer blew me away. Typed words can’t capture the love in his voice, the lighthearted way in which he indicated that if she wanted to dive tropical, then he was happy to take her tropical. I know other husbands who would have said that in a way to convey that she was a wimp or that she was hindering his style. But not my uncle; he was great with whatever she wanted to do.
Brad Paisley’s song “Waitin’ on a Woman” shows another man’s acceptance of his wife. She was late for their very first date and for nearly every event of their lives afterward. He learned to accept that and now counsels a younger man to get used to “waitin’ on a woman.” Instead of getting angry at his wife, or nagging her and bearing a grudge, he simply accepts that this is what she’s like and he finds a nice place to wait for her.
Dr. Chapman shares a similar story about learning to accept one of his wife’s habits. Mrs. Chapman is apparently a drawer opener; she doesn’t close them. When they were first married, this bothered him. He nagged and lectured her about closing the drawers after she opened them, but nothing worked. Finally, he realized she would never change and sat down to consider his options:
“(1) I could leave her! (2) I could be miserable every time I looked at an open drawer from now until the time I die or she dies, or (3) I could accept her as a “drawer opener” and take on myself the task of closing drawers.
As I analyzed these alternatives, I ruled out number one right away. As I looked at number two, I realized that if I were going to be miserable every time I saw an open drawer from now until I die, I would spend a great deal of my life in misery. I reasoned that the best of my alternatives was number three: accept this as one of her imperfections. … From that day to this, open drawers have never bothered me. I feel no emotion, no hostility. I simply close them. That is my job.” ~ Gary Chapman, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted
Clearly this is something that each spouse can do for the other, because all of these examples involve a husband’s acceptance of his wife. I think too often, we wives are the nagging, self-improving types. You loved him when you married him; try to remember that love. Accept your husband for who he is, without nagging him about things that may or may not change. It’ll make you both happier.
In what ways can you accept your husband for who he is? How can you show him this?