We know you. You are a good person. A great person, in fact.
However, if we’re being completely honest here, you aren’t patient as you would like to be. Especially with your spouse. You get a little irritated, annoyed, frustrated, and agitated with him or her from time to time. Okay, daily. And for good reasons (at least, they seem like legit reasons to you).
Seriously, who wouldn’t be irritated if their husband always left the gas tank in the car on empty, or if their wife went out to eat four days a week and then tried to hide it. Frustrating, right? Real issues, right?
Yes, they are real issues, but being impatient is never going to make them get better. Ever.
Listen up, we are going to let you in on a little secret:
If you want a better marriage, you need to be more patient.
Yes, marriage requires patience, rather, demands it, in order to thrive.
Sure, sure, your spouse needs patience too, we get it (really, we do) but he or she isn’t reading this article, you are.
And you can only change you.
So we’ll start with your patience.
Why don’t you take a moment and think of your patience level (lately) on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being “practically patient in every way.” Where do you fall on that scale? Where would your spouse place you on that scale?
See, you are doing better than you thought. Remember last Friday, when you waited and waited and waited for your wife to finish getting ready, and you didn’t even say a snarky word? You just told her she looked great (even though inside you were frustrated about being late to your friend’s party). High fives all around. Or remember yesterday morning when your husband hit the snooze button literally 7 times and you didn’t say anything. You just snuggled up closer to him and told him to stay in bed with you (even though inside you were dying for more sleep and were kind of annoyed at him for waking you up)? Way to go. No, seriously, way to go.
Before we dive into why patience is so, so, so important in nurturing your marriage, let’s take a second and talk about what patience is so that we can better understand why it is so stinking necessary in order to having a well-nurtured, happy, thriving, and realllllly great marriage.
We love definitions, so we snagged the definition of the word “patient,” from the Merriam Websters online dictionary. It is a good one. Ready for it?
DEFINITION OF PATIENT
- bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
- manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain
- not hasty or impetuous
- steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity
- a. able or willing to bear —used with of b. susceptible, admitting <patient of one interpretation>
So, how does that definition translate into real life – for you and your marriage?
Let’s look a little deeper into these definitions, one at a time.
1. Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.
Patience is being calm during the little trials and the big ones. This is like big-scale patience. And it’s so vital for when hard times strike. So, your husband lost his job, or your wife just got diagnosed with a brain tumor?
How you choose to respond to those trials can make or break your relationship with your spouse. Patience means remaining calm and optimistic, and being intentional about not complaining about the situation. Patience means focusing on the good, being encouraging, and remaining positive and hopeful (even if things aren’t going to get better immediately).
2. Manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain.
What marriage doesn’t experience provocation and strain, on an almost daily basis? Every spouse seems to know just the right buttons to push to provoke their spouse, right? Patience is not letting little things get to you. It’s choosing not to be bugged when your husband doesn’t even seem to notice that you cut your hair, or when your wife constantly tells you how to drive when you are in the car together. It’s choosing to not roll your eyes every time your wife leaves hair in the shower, or every time your husband does something in a different way than you would like to see done.
Every marriage experiences strain because of the stresses of life – busy schedules, aging parents, chronic health issues, raising kids and grandkids, and the list goes on. Your life will not be free of strain and stress, but you can choose how you will respond to those things. And choosing patience will always be the right answer, friends. But you already knew that.
3. Not hasty or impetuous.
So, you naturally jump to conclusions. Your wife has been late at work every night this week, so naturally she is cheating on you. Or your husband did a double take when he saw that pretty girl in the restaurant last Saturday, so naturally he thinks she is way more beautiful than you. Naturally. Not. Stop it. Just stop it. Be patient. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. See the good in him or her, and stop jumping to conclusions. Trust your spouse.
Patience means that you try and see the good in your spouse, even when you feel like there isn’t much to see in the moment.
We love this quote by author, Lisa Grunwald, which explains perfectly what patience looks like in marriage.
“You have to banish contempt. Contempt is an acid, and it etches ugliness into love. To banish contempt means that when your husband has given in to his least attractive tendencies, his most fearful, or fearsome; when your wife has lost her focus, her patience, or her heart, this is the moment when you must exercise the x-ray vision I’m sure Yeats would have mentioned if he’d known about Superman. This is the moment when you must see through the annoying, demanding, complaining, failing, faltering wreck in front of you—and find the strong, kind, fascinating, functional person you know your spouse wants to be.” (here)
4. Steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.
Your marriage is going to have difficult moments. Really difficult moments. Moments that need – no, demand – your patience.
Opposition will take it’s toll on your marriage. Your adversities will look different from ours, but no matter what they are, they will try your marriage and your heart.
You may have just found out that your husband is addicted to gambling, or that your wife’s sister just died and you need to take care of her kids for six to nine months – yes, hard things happen. Super hard things. That doesn’t mean you have to give up.
If you can choose to be patient in the face of great opposition, instead of giving in or giving up, then you can be sure that your marriage will win, and that it will last.
5. Able or willing to bear.
Patience – and lots of it – will be necessary as you bear hard things as husband and wife, and work through them, together.
You see, perhaps the main reason we need patience in marriage is because a marriage is a living, growing thing. In marriage, you and I, and our spouses, haven’t “arrived” yet. We are constantly working at “nurturing” seeds of kindness, love, tenderness, gentleness, respect, admiration, thoughtfulness, and forgiveness as we tend to the tree we are nurturing (Remember this analogy?).
Often, we can’t see the fruits of our labors in the moment. Patience often requires us to wait, it requires time to pass, and it requires us to endure. It may seem like all of your hard work and all of your patience isn’t making a difference, but it is. With the value of patience guiding your path, you will find that you can trust that what you are doing is making a difference, and that some day you will reap the reward of all your hard work.
In summary, patience means not giving up on yourself, your spouse, or your marriage just because things are frustrating, annoying, hard, or stressful. Patience requires a bigger view, an ability to see beyond the moment, and the grit to endure with fortitude.
Yes, marriage requires the very best of you.
And it requires all the patience you can muster, practice, and develop.
Good news, patience can be developed! Whatever level of patience you currently have, you can become more patient. And that is good news.
So, what can you do to become a more patient person today and in the coming weeks and months?
Here are 20 ideas that may work for you.
20 Ways to Become a More Patient Spouse this Week
1. Pause before you say anything (and don’t let those snarky comments out!).
2. Be understanding.
4. Ask your spouse how you can help him or her.
5. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly.
6. Fill your life with positive things.
7. Pray. Seriously – pray for patience.
8. Pretend you are more patient than you are.
9. Don’t try and change your spouse.
10. Be open to new ways of doing things.
11. Don’t be in such a rush.
12. Be super quick to forgive.
13. Apologize first – even if you feel you are in the wrong.
14. Don’t raise your voice.
15. Choose not to fight about things, but to stay calm and talk through things.
16. Give things time. Patience often requires the test of time.
17. Don’t roll your eyes.
18. Encourage your spouse.
19. Speak positively about your marriage.
20. Laugh more.
As you work on becoming a more patient spouse, your marriage will improve. It really will. And your spouse will notice. And perhaps he or she will begin to be more patient with you, as well.
As you develop more patience in your marriage, you will find that you are happier, more calm, and less stressed. And you will start to develop more hope for how good your marriage can be and how good it is going to get as time marches on.
You’ve got this. Day by day, as you work on being more patient, you are going to see big changes in how you feel about yourself and about your spouse. The positive effects patience will have on your marriage are going to be worth any effort, no matter how difficult or annoying or frustrating your spouse is in the moment. It’s going to be worth it, so worth it.
Finally, in all of this talk about patience, please don’t forget to be patient with yourself. You won’t be perfect all at once. You will slip up and say something rude. You may roll your eyes. Please, be patient with yourself and keep at it. Day by day, over a lifetime, you can become more and more patient – which will lead to more and more peace and calm in your life, in your marriage, and in your home.