|Serena Grace Photography|
As a newlywed, I see the importance of establishing good habits early on in marriage. I want to work hard to build a strong foundation and I know that even the littlest changes in behavior and attitude can impact my marriage in a big way. Gretchen does a great job of suggesting tangible and realistic ways to bring a little more happiness into marital life. Here were some highlights for me:
"Although some people think...nagging shows love, I think that an adult should be able to decide whether or not to wear a sweater without interference from others."
Gretchen really struck a nerve with this one...because I am SO guilty of this. My name is Alyssa and I nag my husband. Ugh. Even typing it out makes me cringe!
To be honest, my nagging comes from a combination of my best and worst qualities. I love people fiercely. I am genuine in my concern for others. I always want what's best for the people I care about. But I'm also a control freak. And a perfectionist. And have a Type-A personality. So my fierce love can turn into fierce nagging very quickly. My end goal is never to be a nag. I don't wake up in the morning and think, "Gosh I bet my husband would really appreciate some nagging today!"
I always have good intentions, but that doesn't mean I have the right to treat my husband as if he's not a functioning adult. I have to realize that even though I would prefer that he do things a certain way (i.e. my way), the world will not collapse if he doesn't.
Gretchen's honesty about her own struggles in this area actually made me feel better. Most days, I'm confident that I'm a pretty good wife. But like Gretchen, I realize that holding back when I get the urge to nag will probably make a big difference in my marriage.
Hugging for six seconds "is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding."
"Hugging relieves stress, boosts feelings of closeness, and even squelches pain."
Unlike the nagging, I'm glad that this is one area the hubby and I have no problems with. But who knew hugs were scientifically proven to be awesome? I realize some people aren't really big on physical affection, but you can't argue with science my friends!
Don't Take Your Spouse for Granted
"Deep down, I had only love for [my husband] -- I was allowing too many petty issues to get in the way. I wasn't living up to my own standards of behavior, and then, because I felt guilt when I behaved badly, I behaved even worse."
Gretchen revealed how she would oftentimes treat other people in her life better than her own husband. It wasn't an intentional decision. But when you're going through the ups and downs of life every day with someone, it is all too easy to take them for granted. I know my husband will always be there for me. That doesn't mean I can treat him poorly because I know he'll stick around.
And yes, yes, yes. When I know that I'm being a crazy dragon lady, I have a tendency to sink even deeper and deeper into more dragon lady-esque behavior rather than just snap myself out of it and admit that I'm being terrible for no reason. Why, Gretchen? Why do we do these things??
Work on Changing Yourself
"When thinking about happiness in marriage, you may have an almost irresistible impulse to focus on your spouse, to emphasize how he or she should change in order to boost your happiness. But the fact is, you can't change anyone but yourself."
BAM. Preach it, Gretchen.
The chapter on marriage goes a lot more in-depth than what I describe here, but just being more aware of how my own behavior can drastically affect the happiness of my marriage is the most important takeaway.
For more about my thoughts on marriage, check out my Lessons From A Newlywed series.
part one: get a life
part two: get it together
part three: have some fun
part four: show some grace
part five: remember the vows
Read more reflections on happiness at the Be Happy Link Up.