When we first got married, now 14 years ago, we had those typical newlywed arguments about the right way to do things. He didn’t like that I squeezed the toothpaste in the middle of the tube and periodically pushed it all to the top. He preferred to squeeze from the bottom to start. I didn’t like the way he loaded the dishwasher, it was different from how my family did it.
It’s funny because eventually, I started to appreciate how he loaded the dishwasher. It was more logical and fit more dishes, so I changed my system to match his. He never came around to my way of squeezing the toothpaste, so we learned to start buying separate tubes, haha!
As spouses, it’s important for us to observe and learn from each other. This requires that we have a teachable spirit. (This has not always been easy for me, I often take criticism from my husband, even constructive criticism, very personally. But I’m getting better.) A commitment to learn from each other requires that we fight for our marriage like a team, instead of fighting about who is right. There’s more than one right way to do things, so why fight about it? We can agree to disagree, right?
In the busyness of life, it can be easy to overlook the special qualities your spouse has. It’s also easier to focus on the things they do that annoy you rather than on the things you appreciate. Because you’re used to them, you may not see the value of the good qualities as much as in the past. But the truth is, it’s a choice. We always have more to learn and who better to teach us new things than our spouse?
While my husband and I were dating, I really appreciated how he took the time to explain things to me. Somehow it came up that I didn’t know how to change a tire. One afternoon he taught me how, walking me through it step by step. Then and now, whenever I ask questions about how something works, he always takes the time to explain it to me.
To continually be in the habit of learning from each other, try asking each other these questions on a regular basis:
- What is God teaching you this week?
- What are you reading or listening to?
- What challenges are you facing, at work or home?
- How does that make you feel?*
*Not only can we learn new skills from each other, we can also learn more about each other’s hearts. We all have unique personalities, histories and ways of processing life. The more you understand yourself and your spouse, the better your marriage can be.
Take some time this week to appreciate the things your spouse has taught you over the years. Express your thanks for what you have learned from them, whether it’s big (like changing a tire) or small (like a better way to load the dishwasher). Continue to observe his/her behavior and you’ll keep learning new things.