What if a two-letter word could make your marriage better?
The idea came to mind several years ago when I listened to my girlfriend.
“The kids were away visiting family, so we served ourselves huge portions of ice cream and put the bowls right on the coffee table, out in the open, while we watched a movie.”
My friend and her husband had such fun while their children were gone for the weekend. I laughed at the scene she described; then I got stuck on the concept of we. It conjured up mutually enjoyable togetherness.
We paints a picture of closeness; of shared experience.
I decided to embark on a little experiment; a slight word change. I’d start using the word we whenever it made sense. I’d replace the words I, me and my, when applicable, with we, us and our. It would be a new goal for our marriage.
In marriage we’re exhorted, if we hope for a happy life together, to let go of self. We’re no longer two people who each make personal choices and give in to singular desires and whims. Our individuality must give way to a bigger goal: to become one.
Beware of marriage’s natural default
Sometimes when people have been married many years they become more independent. I don’t want us to be that way. We must renew our marriage commitment daily by our actions. Without this resolve, the natural default of a marriage is to grow apart. Our own nature fights for our personhood, and when we can get away with it we will take our freedom and run. That’s why my husband Tom and I aim to move toward one another each day. It’s a priority.
It’s no longer me but us. We can’t tuck away a big (virtual) box of precious demands and pull them out when we insist on our having our way. We’re a team of two and we work together.
Sometimes, in conversations, I hear:
We use words casually, without thinking. Most words are benign but small tweaks make a difference.
Words create mental images. My feels cold. When I hear that person speak, I picture her alone, without her husband in the situation she described. Hey Girl, where’s Hubby? I think.
When I hear a friend use we to describe shared experiences, I instantly feel like their marriage is going well.
I use the word we more often now to express our unity, rather than our individuality.
It would certainly be boring if Tom and I were identical in our likes, dislikes and interests. Through the years we’ve grown to appreciate our unique strengths and gifts. We’re wired differently but we’ve learned to have fun and enjoy particular experiences together as we’ve become closer. When our words reflect our oneness, our intimacy grows. We reaffirm the truth that God joined us together and we’ve become crazier about each other as the years have piled up.
What activities do you and your spouse enjoy together?
We love to do these things together:
Read Bible and devotionals
Hike in the mountains
Laugh at favorite comedians and jokes
Host folks for dinner or overnight
Explore parts of the USA
Take walks around our community
Discuss books we’ve read
At our wedding we promised to be one. Since the wedding 35 years ago, our primary motive has been to live as one. It involves one intentional choice at a time. If my words, even a simple pronoun, will enhance our relationship, I’ll try it.
Here are five reminders as you build a good marriage:
- Be aware of your words.
Keep your antenna up to catch negative words. The old adage my parents repeated hundreds of times in my childhood: think before you speak, applies here.
2. Don’t share everything you think.
Early in our marriage, I thought I should talk about whatever came to mind. I’ve since learned some thoughts are just for me, some are to discuss later and some can be discarded (especially the critical ones).
3. Show your spouse appreciation, instead of helpful criticism.
I thank my husband for the good life he’s given me, and I always look forward to him coming home after a long day at work.
4. Give your spouse full attention.
It’s easy to be distracted when my husband is talking, but I’ve learned to give him my attention, just as I want him to give me attention when I’m speaking.
Even something so simple must be intentional.