It all started with a conversation that maybe some spouses are all too familiar with.
“My day was HARD,” we say.
Only to hear the retort of, “My day was hard too.”
That certainly wasn’t what we were looking for, was it? We wanted encouragement, acknowledgement, and validation. But instead, the conversation leaves us fuming with disappointment and frustration. We think to ourselves, “My partner will never understand” and perhaps even, “I do FAR more work for our family.” We quickly run down the never-ending list of tasks, responsibilities, and expectations that we do daily.
Regardless of our titles; if we’re a SAHM, WAHM, or a mom who works outside the home – it’s all too easy to compare our days, and more specifically our responsibilities, with that of our significant others. But here’s what I’ve quickly realized- it’s all relative. Furthermore, we just aren’t going to get anywhere comparing our hardships with anyone. My capacity for hard is different than my husbands, and even different than yours. All comparison does is wedge deep feelings of bitterness and “never good enoughs” within the heart of our relationships. It exchanges partnership for competition and it strives for sameness instead of unity.
Set The Tone
In the time that I’ve been a mother, I’ve realized that the state of my marriage often sets the tone of our home. Our unity encourages kindness. And, at it’s very best, our partnership illustrates the values of honor, loyalty, and respect. When we are loving towards another (in both our actions and in our words) it lightens the atmosphere. When we’re emotionally distant, bickering, or not on the same team – all that negativity trickles on downward to our kids.
We know that our children consistently model our behavior. But even when we try to hide our disagreements, children are discerning. The tone we set at home will always play out- in their behavior, in their relationships with others, and sometimes at school. Thus, these next two phrases – although they may for a time only be directed at your spouse and not necessarily at your children – will have long lasting effects on all of your family. And from what I’ve experienced, will positively impact the culture of your home.
I’ve realized that the state of my marriage often sets the tone of our home. Our unity encourages kindness. And, at it’s very best, our partnership illustrates the values of honor, loyalty, and respect.
The Two Magic Phrases
Whether we’re asking for something to get done or we have had the longest day and are on the last thread of patience we can muster – we have a choice; to demand our needs, or to ask. There’s something very vulnerable about saying please. It’s not just a matter of being polite, it’s a sign of respect for the other person we are speaking to. Which is why I think many of us don’t use it anymore, especially in our marriages. But if we put ourselves out there, not only using the word “please,” but ALSO softening our tone while using it- we might find that in extending respect, we’ll get some in exchange. We might see that far more is gained from our genuine ask than from our typical nagging and/or passive aggressive suggestions. We might even begin to experience the ripple effects of our children learning that saying please is not just a mechanic mandate but a word of power. Modeling the appropriate usage of please in our adult relationships illustrates to our children the importance of it.
A well-placed thank you can change everything. Especially when it comes to work that is expected. Actually, especially that kind of work. It might mean saying thank you to your spouse for changing the baby’s diaper. It might mean saying thank you to your spouse for being willing to put in long hours at work. It might mean saying thank you to your teenage son for sharing his day at the dinner table. It might mean saying thank you even when no one has said it to you. Saying thank you acknowledges the existence of a person. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, I see YOU. I see all that you are doing and trying to become.” It’s a highlight of their character. And often it creates a domino effect. The phrase “thank you”, for some, becomes fuel to do more, share more, and be more. It’s a reminder that our pursuit of happiness and of bettering ourselves isn’t fruitless- that maybe we make a difference, albeit a small one.
I’m of the philosophy that words are everything. They can destroy, encourage, heal and inspire. They don’t have to be complex or long-winded – just genuinely meant. If we can change the way we speak towards our loved ones, we might begin to see the culture of our home grow towards one of love, kindness, and mutual respect. It’s a small start. But, well worth it.
What is the tone in your house? Are there some words or phrases that could help improve it?
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Tabitha Panariso is a chronic decaf coffee drinker and occasional nap taker who has lived all over the United States, but fortunately landed in the Rockies of Colorado. She is wife to a rugged mountain man and mama to two lovely littles. Together, they’re embracing the glorious mundane, chasing after their dreams, and leaning hard into hope while striving for authenticity in their faith. In 2014, Tabitha started blogging as another way to connect with others. Her personal blog, Tabitha Panariso, is a space where you can find her writing on faith, community, motherhood, and daily life. She also journals and captures the everyday rhythms of her life on Instagram @tabithapanariso
Tabitha is a contributor for Colorado Springs Moms Blog, one of our Sister Sites.