I am loving the chance to learn something from the great women around me. We invited Kay Hatch, an older woman in my neighborhood, to share with us her ideas on improving marriages.
We started with a short spotlight on a general conference talk by Julie B. Beck. So many great thoughts were shared that are so relevant to our lives. I especially liked this quote from Eliza R. Snow that was used in the talk:
"Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities.”8The girl doing the spotlight said that she realized when reading that that she could do more for herself. Instead of waiting for her busy husband to get to all the repairs or things that needed to happen around her home, she told herself, "I can do something about this." She called repairmen or figured out the problems by herself and got them done.
Later, I said I needed that message because sometimes I get so frustrated with taking care of everyone else and I start to feel sorry for myself. "Who's going to take care of me?" I think. It's good to remember that I'm not a baby. I am a woman, capable, strong, and smart.
After our spotlight, Kay Hatch led the main discussion. She is one of my favorite people in the world. She's always positive and saying kind things to others and it's always a joy to be with her. Her husband is a wonderful man too and it was great to get a glimpse inside a long-lasting, successful marriage.
Some thoughts and ideas that were shared:
* Every marriage requires adjustment and compromise.
* You can't change your spouse. You can only change yourself. Kay Hatch says that when she got married she discovered her husband loved sports, while she barely even knew what a ball was. She wanted her family more focused on music and theater, and she said, "I really thought I could change him. I learned that didn't work." She spent many years at the bleachers with little kids (she raised five sons). Interestingly, her children learned from both parents. Her oldest son is a concert pianist. The other four are very good at sports.
* We mothers and wives set the tone in our home. We can put up beautiful and inspiring pictures and listen to lovely music. She's always listening to what she calls "romantic" music at her house and said that often repairmen who come there to work will comment on what beautiful music it is.
* "Love them" into doing the things you want them to do.
* Be grateful for the good things your husband does. Kay Hatch suggested making two lists, the positive and the negative, then taking a match and burning up the negative list.
* Don't compare your husband to other men. Be aware of and encouraging of his good points and patient with his faults. We laughingly decided that we should all make a list of the good things each other's husbands do because it's so easy to notice things going well in another person's marriage and miss the ones going well in your own. (For example, my husband takes our kids on trips alone. Before you think our marriage is perfect, however, I could point out that he doesn't mow the lawn, pull weeds, or do the yardwork. That's my responsiblity in our marriage. There's a lot of give and take in any relationship).
* The importance of affectionate touch.
* Men want to be admired. Let them know you love them and admire the work they do.
* One woman shared that we sometimes miss the romantic man our husband was during courtship. It's helpful to remember that most men are task-oriented people. During courtship, the task was to woo and court. Once they've married, many men see the new task as providing for their families so they put their focus there.
Along those lines, one woman shared how she was so touched by this video when she saw it online (you'll have to click on it to see it full-screen; I don't know how to shrink it).
She showed it to her husband who said, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever seen." We all laughed and got a kick out of that, but doesn't that just illustrate the differences between men and women and the challenge we have becoming unified in a vision for our marriages and homes?
* The importance of keeping a home neat and orderly. It makes a difference. I said that it helps me sometimes to realize that my husband has to do a lot of things in the course of his job that he doesn't enjoy. If he's willing to do all that to provide for our family, can't I take on the task of the housework without complaining?
* One friend said that she notices that when she's the most critical of her husband and all the things he's not doing, it's usually at the time of greatest stress in her life and that it's the stress at the root of the problem, not her husband. When she's less stressed, the same things just don't bother her.
* When we are concerned about improving our marriages or about choices our husbands are making that aren't good, we can increase our prayers and attend the temple seeking those things we desire. God knows us and will help us find solutions, peace, and hope.
* Pornography is a huge problem in many marriages. Some suggestions for how to avoid it were to put the computer in a main living area, to have filters and passwords and to just be aware of the danger. For those who are addicted, it is important to seek outside help and not expect that things will get better without it. Kay Hatch knows some missionaries who work with the Church's Addiction Recovery Program and they say the success rate is very high.
* It is silly to expect our husbands to meet our every need. "When I expect him to take care of my every need, I forget that's what Heavenly Father is for. I can't expect my husband to stand in for Heavenly Father." said one woman.
* Remember what a blessing it is to be married and have children. One mother in our group married at age 31 and shared that she is determined to keep her marriage strong because she knows what a blessing it is. "Being single is really hard. There's good things about it, but it's also lonely." Another girl shared that once she was complaining about her husband to an older woman in her ward who's never been married. "Oh, stop it," the woman gently told her, "don't you know how blessed you are?"
I know I missed some of the ideas that were shared -- does anyone who attended want to fill in the gaps?
What do you do to make your marriage a priority? What qualities are you grateful for in your husband?