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Love Homework: Go Easier on Your Spouse

November 29, 2009
My wife and I at her parents' house Thanksgiving 2009

My wife and I at her parents' house Thanksgiving 2009

Some people are so demanding you hardly want to be around them. I’ve been around couples where one is so “nit-picky” I wondered why the other put up with the relationship. On the other hand, I’ve been around the opposite and really appreciated the way a spouse gave the other “elbow room” in the relationship. Watching this happen can have two effects on a person: 1) A feeling of frustration that the offending one is not being scolded or 2) a feeling of being impressed that the offending one is being allowed freedom of expression. While these two responses could happen to any of us, I think it’s safe to say all of us would want our spouse to go easy on us in the event we acted “offensive” in some way. Not being so demanding and less tense with your spouse can yield great results for them. They will feel safer taking risks, better about the relationship, and more supportive toward you. All these effects really do work toward your advantage as well so when your spouse offends you in some way, go easier on her/him.

Going easier on your spouse will make her/him feel safer taking risks

I learned this one as a teacher. Kids will take more risks and perform better when they feel safe in class. In the same way, when you “lay off” the criticism, your spouse may develop more lucrative or supportive pastimes. They can let their mind expand which can help solve problems you may have thought were unsolvable. They could start to do huge things like go back to college or little things like suggest your favorite restaurant when you can’t afford it (come on, we all know we can usually find the money … it’s the thought that counts). Sadly, for many couples, the outlet for real emotion and risk-taking is in something harmless like a diary or much worse, an affair.

Going easier on your spouse will make her/him feel better about the relationship

When your spouse feels good about your relationship, it is like potting vitamins to a plant. The relationship will grow on “auto-pilot.” Little romantic things you do will be perceived as what they are and not attempts to “win affection.” The latter can occur when there is a lot of insecurity in the relationship. I was so moved over the thanksgiving holiday the way my wife was patient with me usual “slips of the lip” with her family as well as with mine. I am in a relationship where I am quite thankful my wife “goes easy on me.” We live and we learn but unless we feel good about the relationship, we never really grow.

Going easier on your spouse will make her/him feel more supportive toward you

Ultimately, this post is about the golden rule: “Do unto your spouse as you would have done unto you.

By going easier on your spouse, you’ll find they will go easier on you. You can criticize quite easily but what comes harder and is therefore more valuable is patience and long-suffering when your spouse makes a mistake or doesn’t measure up to what you expect. This is usually not the end of the world. On the other hand, it can feel like the end of the world when your spouse lays unrealistic expectations on you. The next time you are tempted to criticize your spouse, go easier or better yet … don’t say anything at all.

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I’m a teacher and songwriter in California. It's always a pleasure writing for It Might be Love. I married my wife in 2002 and we have 3 kids. You can read more about me at my Google profile here. Get updates on Twitter and on my blog.

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