For the last few weeks, my husband and I have executed an experiment unlike any of the others we've tried. We're adventurous, especially with food, and have done several experiments over the last year - bizarre ethnic restaurants, portion control diets, and outlandish recipes. However, this most recent undertaking was lengthier than any of the previous ones. I didn't agree with it entirely. It required a lot of research on my part, not to mention trial-and-error. My husband's contributions were very limited. So why did I agree to it?
Because I love my husband. I knew this was important to him and that he couldn't do it alone.
Your experiment may be different from ours. Maybe your spouse wants to quit his or her job, move across the country, or have another baby. Regardless, the principles of communication, support, patience and love are the same. Helping my husband with our project has been a wonderful experience, so here we share what we've learned in recent weeks about supporting each other, even when it's kind of strange.
Know and respect your spouse's motivations
When my husband first mentioned his idea, I tried to imagine what the appeal might be. Then certain magic words came out of his mouth: "I prayed about it, and this is the answer I got, so I want to follow that." Knowing that was his reasoning changed everything because it was something to which I could relate and applaud.
Have you taken the time to understand why your spouse wants to do that wacky thing at which you've been rolling your eyes? Honoring your spouse's logic and good intentions will help him or her feel loved and respected.
Be open about your reservations
We're not saying you have to agree wholeheartedly after you understand your spouse's motivations. On the contrary, understanding your spouse's point of view begins a conversation where you can reveal your point of view, as well. Your spouse will appreciate your openness as long as you speak without judgment or criticism.
Once you understand each other, proceed to address your concerns together. For instance, you could agree to support your spouse's idea 100 percent under the condition it is only for a trial period. That's what we did at my house. I've agreed to research dietary requirements, acquire recipes and make food that is all very different from the norm we've established. My husband agreed it would only last for a month. So far, so good.
No matter how much you compromise, your part of the equation will still feel like drudgery unless you find a reason to invest your heart in it. That requires humility. Yet, it becomes easier once you remember that figuring out a process can be fun, independent of what the end result might be. For example, I learn, create, and experiment all the time. This month, I simply let my husband pick the topic. Thinking about it that way, our experiment soon intrigued me and became a fun project instead of just more work.
The teamwork and mutual respect necessary to a happy marriage grows as you make sacrifices for the sake of your spouse's happiness. Sometimes those sacrifices include going along with some nutty ideas. Mutual understanding, compromise, and genuine interest ensure your love for your spouse outshines your skepticism. You never know - it might make you want to share your own crazy ideas. Try it out today.