When my wife and I first got married I would go to work, come home, and either play video games or find something else to do. We didn’t live together before marriage, and I was always used to having my time to myself when we were apart. This was my routine, I didn’t think of it as neglecting my wife. But when we got married and lived together, I had to start thinking about her desires and needs as well.
Of course, it’s okay to have your own personal time to pursue your hobbies, but you have to do it with consideration for your spouse’s needs. But I did not think there was a big difference between being a boyfriend and a husband. I thought the only difference was going to be that we were going to sleep in the same bed and we were going to live together.
Was I ever wrong about that. Here are two differences I discovered between being a boyfriend and being a husband.
Selflessness. When you get married your life is really no longer about you: it’s about your spouse. You have to think about everything you say and do because it will affect that person. I didn’t realize the impact my just wanting to play video games when I came home from work had on her. But by doing that, I was ignoring her, which understandably made her feel alone. In marriage you have to sacrifice some of your own wants and needs to make sure the other person is happy.
That said, I’m not saying that marriage is about becoming a doormat for your spouse; it’s a compromise. Both you and your spouse have to learn how to compromise in the relationship.
Responsibility. You have a responsibility to uplift that other person and make sure they’re happy. It’s your responsibility to make their life easier and not more difficult. And it is also your responsibility to be their emotional support when they are down: let them know there is a reason to get back up and keep trying.
For example, my wife has bipolar disorder, so it’s really easy for her to get down her on herself, and sometimes she thinks she makes our lives more difficult. In those moments it’s my job to say, “I understand you have mental health problems, and it’s not your fault. But you have to work on your problems, and you’re not making life for us difficult.” It’s my job to remind her that she’s a great mother and a great spouse and that we need her. Instead of complaining about or ignoring her struggles with bipolar, my job is to cheer her up and remind her of the truth about herself.
Sometimes it’s tempting to think that life would be a lot better if I could have what I want all of the time, but that’s just not true: it’s a sign of growth and maturity to start thinking about the needs and wants of another person. In other words, when you realize that marriage is not all about yourself, it actually gives you a chance for emotional growth and maturity. It gives you a chance to become a better person.
And that’s how it is that today I am happily married to my wife, and we have three soon-to-be four beautiful children—and there’s nothing I would do to change that. It did take a lot of emotional growth to get to where we are today and I’m sure there’s more growing to do. But as long as I get to grow with her I’m the happiest person in the world. No relationship is perfect; it takes practice and commitment. But if you find that person you can grow in true love with, prepare yourself for a very happy marriage and life.
My wife and I could have avoided so many fights if I would have just realized how selfish I was being. So if you’re getting ready to get married, or if you’re in a committed relationship and talking about marriage, take it from a guy that should’ve gotten the point sooner: be prepared to embrace the selfless sacrifices and responsibility that marriage asks of us.