Sometimes Rich and I do this thing where we stay up late at night and then we’re both complete grumps in the morning and take turns tending the kids while the other one sleeps, but somehow we always both feel like we got the short end of the stick. Our sleep scores don’t add up. And then sometimes when he comes home from work, even if we both had ok days separately, we’re still cranky pantses to each other. We’ll either barely interact or just sort of disagree with the other one’s opinions for no reason.
And then we step back eventually and think, “Wait a second. Why are we being grumps to each other? Aren’t we on the same team here? What are we even mad about?”
And usually it’s just because we’re tired or someone else said something that put us in a bad mood or the kids were hard or an experiment failed at work or or or. Usually, it’s nothing to do with them, but for some reason, we’re able to keep it together for everyone else, but our spouses wind up getting the short end of our temper stick.
Sometimes we just need a quick fix to get ourselves to like each other again.
Want a way to get your spouse to like you again when the day-to-day marital grumps set in?
Here it is: LIKE THEM FIRST.
Convince them that you like them. Remind them.
” . . . . I didn’t even notice that she was regal and dignified and warm until she came over and sat with me.
First, she liked me. Then, I liked her.
I really, really think the secret to being loved is to love. And the secret to being interesting is to be interested. And the secret to having a friend is being a friend.”
This is so true. When I think of my friends- they come in all shapes and sizes. A lot of them don’t have anything in common. I’ll tell you the secret to getting me to like you though: Like me first. It’s basically a shoe-in I’ll like you back. Even people that I’ve gotten a bad first impression of for whatever reason, if I become convinced they like me, forget about it, I’ll be their friend regardless of imperfections.
I guess I’m vain like that, but I think most of us are.
In fact, remember that book “How To Win Friends and Influence People“? The title sounds like the answer is in some sort of trickery or sleight of hand. Like, “I’m pretty crappy, but I’ll use this secret tip and poof! I’ll have friends and influence the world!” Turns out, there is no magic trick to have friends and influence people- the thesis of the book was basically, make other people feel loved and special and appreciated and you’ll have friends and be influential to them.
Same thing goes with our marriages.
The solution sounds very simplistic: convince them you like them.
So what keeps us from doing this all the time in our marriages? A few ideas:
- Sometimes we disapprove of their actions and we think that being kind would make them think we approved of whatever it is we don’t approve of
- Sometimes we feel like they don’t like us so why should we like them?
- Sometimes we feel like we liked them first after the last fight, this time it’s their turn
- Sometimes we don’t want to feel the vulnerability of liking them first because what if they reject our act of kindness?
Remember- as a wise snowman once said, “Only an act of love will melt a frozen heart” (ugh, why is that movie so applicable to marriage metaphors?! Sigh). But really, love CAN melt a frozen heart- including your own.
Sometimes our own hearts need just as much thawing as theirs.
So, give him that hug, send her those flowers, remind each other of an inside joke, compliment each other.
Thaw, love, convince, remind, repeat.