If you’re married – and have been for longer than a minute or so – then in your tougher moments, the title of this post might pique your interest: How to Sell Your Husband (or Wife). It’s just tongue-in-cheek, of course – a hyperbolic title like those of the comedies ‘How to Murder Your Wife’ and ‘Throw Momma from the Train’.
Frustrations in a relationship are inevitable, unless one of you is overdue for sainthood (Hint: you’re not). And in the tougher moments, those frustrations can bubble up a little.
I don’t know about you, but when I get steamed up, I tend to vent at the mouth.
It’s easy to let those little niggley frustrations turn into little nit-picky comments. And, as with anything that you practice at, eventually it becomes a habit: nitpicking becomes the norm; nagging becomes your default. Letting things slide goes by the wayside, and you give voice to whatever isn’t perfect.
Sometimes that happens in this house. Sometimes I get a little too ‘good’ at picking up on what’s not perfect about my hubby and a little too bad at noticing the good stuff.
So here I am, married to this kind, strong, loving, loyal guy – and instead of telling him all about the wonderful things I see in him, I end up pointing out the negative things I observe. Remember, too, that what we notice when we’re mad tends to be coloured by our emotion – so those little things that ordinarily wouldn’t worry us suddenly become sources of rage. I’m talking about the dry cough; the incessant leg-bouncing or pen drumming; the towel that just gets flung down every.single.time and never gets to dry properly (ugh!)…
And what happens when you’ve got kids? Well, you’ve got an audience for the whole thing.
What we don’t always realize is that how we talk about our spouse is how we’re ‘selling’ them to our kids. We are marketing our spouse’s qualities through what we say about them as well as how we speak to them.
The shoe can be on the other foot, too – at times the way our spouse speaks to us or about us within earshot of our kids negatively influences our kids’ opinions of us, even unintentionally.
Sometimes I notice a creeping disrespect in my boys towards me. I find them trotting along to their Daddy for verification of whatever I’ve said. I see them taking longer to come when I call them. I hear them arguing more when I ask them to do something.
Feeling ignored or disrespected is my particular catalyst to misery (I am thin-skinned, after all) – so when I see this behaviour I know that I need to tackle it right away.
When these challenges arose recently, I reflected, observed, and prayed. And through this process it was clear that we have created the problem, West and I: the root of our boys’ disrespect is in how we speak to (or about) one another and in how we choose to respond. We need to focus on ‘marketing’ each other’s best points so that our kids develop a healthy sense of respect (and, if it’s not too much to hope for, admiration) for both of us.
This isn’t a concern unique to us, either – many families struggle because their kids have developed attitudes of disrespect and ambivalence towards one or both of their parents; and, if not nipped quickly in the bud, those attitudes take root and grow.
So, how should you sell your husband (or wife) to your kids to avoid selling him (her) short?
Guard your words. You need to be careful not to dismiss or belittle the things your spouse has to say. Avoid dismissing or belittling him (her) as a person, too.
Master your thoughts. The little negative opinions you hold can shape your behaviour; being aware of the ways in which you fail to cherish your spouse can help you to care better for him (her).
Demonstrate love. When you’re overtly demonstrative, you help reassure your kids that you love your spouse. Not only will they thrive in the security of seeing your love in action – your spouse will, too.
Avoid criticising. Bite your tongue. Seriously – Bambi’s little friend Thumper had it right: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothin’ at all!”
Lavish praise. If you can think of one good thing about your spouse, he (or she) should hear about it. So should your kids. Chances are you can think of quite a few things you appreciate about your mate. Praise him (her) truthfully, regularly, and abundantly.
Communicate intentionally. This one’s tough for some. But failing to communicate sends the message that your spouse isn’t worth your consideration or attention. So take the time and trouble to let him (her) know what you’re up to. Apologize if you’re running late. Share your thoughts and feelings on general topics as well as those closer to your heart.
The last thing any parent wants – in fact, the last thing anyone wants – is to be dismissed and disrespected. Belonging and significance matter greatly – show your spouse that they’re an integral and important part of your family; and be deliberate in how you work to curtail disrespectful attitudes in your kids.
Remember: If the way we speak to/about our spouse is like marketing them to the rest of the world, we have to be intentional about how we’re ‘selling’ their image. Their reputation depends on it.
Food for Thought
How do you sell your spouse to your kids? If you asked your children what you think of Mum or Dad, what would they say?
Thanks for reading!
June 2015 Shared on the Wise Woman Linkup