Are You Saying Yes or No to Your Spouse?

by Dana Boyle on February 29, 2012

I was cleaning the kitchen and prepping for dinner and admiring to myself how wonderful our marriage is, especially lately, and how much I enjoy when things are going great with my husband.

I noted how I had done several things just for him that day:  I went to the post office for stamps that he asked for, I made a special trip to Walgreens for Excedrin because it’s the only thing that works for his headaches and we are out, and I washed his work pants even though I wouldn’t otherwise have any laundry to do today for myself because I know he needs them, and now I was making dinner that I knew he liked so he’d have something nice to eat when he got home through the snow after a stressful commute.    When I noticed those things, they felt light.  They felt loving.  I wanted to do them for him.  I was “going out of my way,” but it felt good to do for him.

I have noted other days in our marriage where I might have been overwhelmed, stressed, and “going out of my way” for my husband felt heavy and burdensome, like just one more thing I had to do that day that I didn’t have time for, that took time out of what I needed to do, that wouldn’t be appreciated or noticed.

Then I quietly asked myself what the difference is.

Why was it heavy at one point, and light at another?  What is different about our marriage in this light state that feels loving and easy?

What is making me feel like saying yes and doing anything my spouse needs or asks for right away, without it making me feel put upon or overwhelmed or underappreciated?

I feel a lot of YES coming from him these days.

I also notice I’m giving a lot of YES to him these days.

We are both saying yes to each other about everything.

Remember when you fell in love and your relationship was so light and easy and you wanted to do special things for your spouse just because it felt good to make them feel cared for and special?  You might have taken an hour to write them a love letter or stopped off and bought them a thoughtful gift or snuck their car for a repair when they were sleeping.  None of it felt like a chore at all, did it?

You felt that way because everything about your spouse made you say yes back then.  Their smile, their voice, their dreams, what they wanted to do on a Saturday night, how they made the bed, their touch, their phone calls and emails…everything they did and everything they were was a big fat green light to you in those falling in love days.

Are you saying yes or are you saying no to your spouse?  Do you say no more than you say yes?  Do you even know it when you’re saying no?

You say yes to your spouse when you smile and acknowledge them when they walk into the room.  You say yes to your spouse when you put a hand on them when they sit down next to you to relax.  You say yes to your spouse when you don’t change the channel when they’re watching something on TV that they enjoy, even when you really don’t – because you want them to enjoy something and relax.  You say yes to your spouse when they touch you and you touch them back.  You say yes to them when they have an idea and you really listen and try to see their point of view.  You say yes when you compliment something they did for you or for your family.  You say yes when you acknowledge how they feel, even if you don’t understand it.  You say yes when you laugh at something with them or at a joke they make.   You say yes when they extend an olive branch and you accept it.  You say yes when you back them up.

There are so many ways we say yes and just as many that we say no, if we’re in a state of resistance in our marriage.

Do you keep your face down looking at your phone or laptop when your spouse walks in the room?  Do you text while you’re having dinner together?  Do you work late every night?  Are you annoyed at every little thing they do?  Do you ignore them, or worse – pull away, when they touch you?  Do you contradict and argue with everything they say?  Do you neglect the things that are important to them?  Do you tune out when they talk to you?  Do you shut them out of your day to day life, not sharing things with them?  Do you talk negatively about them to them or to anyone else?  Do their jokes fall flat?  Do you get angrier when they try to diffuse a situation with humor?  Do you leave them holding the bag in all the rough situations?

Those are just a few examples, but my point is that I’m noticing that the key ingredient to things going smoothly and to feeling light and easy in my own marriage seems to be saying yes to each other more than we say no – a lot more than we say no.

If I had to guess, it’s like they say about negative comments or feedback.  For every criticism you give your spouse, there should be ten compliments or you will erode the trust and love between you and start to create resentment.  I bet it’s just like that with saying yes versus saying no.  When that balance gets tipped the dynamics change.

Marriage is a lot easier when you say yes 10 times for every no.

I challenge you to see how this works in your marriage and let me know if you experience the same thing.

I challenge you to notice how you are saying yes and how you are saying no to your spouse, and how often you do.  Then ask yourself whether you think that has anything to do with the state of your marriage at the moment.  I bet it does.

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