Socks scattered across the bedroom floor. Again.
Love is patient.
Paper piles covering every flat surface, even though I created a file system for them.
Love is not easily angered.
How many times do I have to remind him there is a container for the chips?
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
These are the thoughts and frustrations that run through my mind every time my husband’s messy tendencies conflict with my organized ways. You would think that after 25 years of marriage I’d be used to it.
When I married Clint I knew what I was getting into. I didn’t marry him for his organizational skills, but rather for his sense of humor, good looks, and kind ways. Plus, I was certain being married to me would cure him of his disorganization.
I was wrong.
Our polar opposite personalities and different ways of keeping things in order clashed from the get-go. We struggled and fought. In the end, I had to learn how to balance my orderly style with his not-so-organized ways.
Love Paves the Way
It wasn’t easy, but hope and LOVE made all the difference.
LOVE paves the way
Since our marriage was a relationship grounded in God, it seemed like the best place for me to search for answers in dealing with my disorganized spouse would be God’s Word. I was certain that I would find the evidence I needed to change Clint to my tidy way of living.
Once again, I was wrong.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes, “ Love is patient, love is kind … it keeps no record of wrong.” I wonder if Paul knew how desperately some “Odd Couples” would need to hear those words in order to live as one.
Rather than give me the weapons I was looking for, God’s Word showed me how to express LOVE to Clint in ways that would honor him, our marriage, and our home.
Express Love to Your Spouse
Learn your spouse’s organizing style. Organizing isn’t one-size-fits all. In fact, each of us has our own way of keeping order. As much as I wanted Clint to be organized like me, he had his own style.
Once I recognized his style – no lidded containers, simple in function, and everything in view – it made it easier for me to create order for both of us. By honoring who he was, and how God created him, I was able to find a balance both of us could work with.
A marriage is made up of two unique individuals. I needed to stop trying to make him just like me and appreciate the man he was.
Offer to compromise. In a perfect world, everyone would be organized. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and often times those we love are not as organized as we’d like them to be.
While we could insist they do things our way, God reminded me that love is not self-seeking (1 Cor 13:5). That’s where compromise comes in.
Rather than demand that every inch of the house be in perfect order, here are a few compromises I suggested:
• Offering one or two “messy zones” that he is free to keep as he pleases.
• Determining together which spaces in the house should be clutter-free and which everyone has to make an effort to keep orderly.
• Setting terms for dealing with unwanted stuff – agreeing to declutter twice a year with a goal of getting rid of at least 50 items.
Compromise is never easy, but it’s a necessary component of marriage and the organizing journey.
Verbalize your feelings, but don’t nag. While it can be frustrating to see the piles and chaos that disorganized spouses can leave in their wake, constantly pointing out those tendencies will not bring order to your home.
Statements such as, “Why can’t you put the chips back where they belong?” or “You always leave your socks on the floor” don’t exactly convey loving sentiments. Rather, statements like these that can put your spouse on the defensive and make you sound like a quarrelsome wife (Prov. 19:13, 21:9, 25:24).
Instead of bringing up his organizational shortcomings, why not try statements such as:
• “Honey, did you know that there is a basket specifically for the chips in the pantry?” or
• “It really bothers me when you leave your socks on the floor all the time. Could you pick them up more often and place them in the hamper?”
Words Have Power
Our words have the power of life and death and a gentle answer can turn away wrath (Prov. 15:1). They might just lead to order too.
Exemplify. It’s unlikely that your nagging or anger will be what brings your spouse to the light of organized living. I’ve learned from personal experience that setting the example first has more influence and impact than words or fights could ever have.
Truly, actions speak louder than words (1 Peter 3:1). Over time my consistent organized ways and habits eventually began to rub off on my husband. In the past few years I’ve seen Clint become more orderly – he makes to-do lists on a regular basis, he purges his clothes before we go shopping, and I’ve even caught him using my label maker!
I can’t say that he’s organized with everything, but he’s definitely not the same man I married all those years ago. Sometimes the best thing a wife can do is be the example for her spouse, even in the little things.
[Don’t forget to show LOVE to your spouse! Download the FREE printable – 4 Ways to Express LOVE to Your Not-So-Organized Spouse.]
Early in our marriage, I questioned whether two people on different ends of the organizing spectrum could make it work under one roof. I was certain that he was the one who needed to change. Eventually, I realized that the only person I can change is myself.
While our home isn’t perfectly organized, the truth of God’s Word, the hope that things could change, and a lot of LOVE have allowed us to have a home that’s as clutter-free as can be.
How could LOVE make a difference with your not-so-organized spouse?
Liana George is an organizer, writer, and speaker. Her mission is to inspire others in transforming their chaos into an organized lifestyle. Liana is married to Clint and together they have two adult daughters. When Liana isn’t organizing something you can find her curled up with a good book, watching/playing tennis, or planning her next dive adventure. You can visit her website at bygeorgeorganizing.com.
Friends, I hope you are staying cool somehow in this crazy heat (at least in California we are having an epic heat wave).
I am excited to share with you that Focus on the Family is running an episode in which I share tips on “How to Have a Happier Husband”. I love helping marriages become everything you wished it would be before you were married. If you need a re-direct on focusing on you marriage or want some new ideas on how to make your husband feel loved, respected, care-for and important, this episode is fun and helpful. I hope you enjoy and share with your friends.
Check out the episode by clicking here.
Valentine’s Day is great—it nudges us to celebrate romance. But we don’t want to celebrate only on special occasions, not when we can weave romance into the rhythm of our lives.
How do we keep celebrating romance all year long?
Between kids and jobs, home responsibilities and extended family, it is easy to let our marriage relationships go on auto pilot. But if we want to have a good marriage, a romance-filled marriage, we choose to be intentional about it.
We love intentionally
1. Discovering the best in our partner — every day — and celebrating it. Set this standard in your marriage and hold on to even in the most stressful times. Nothing builds romance like knowing your husband well and expressing appreciation for those things that are easily taken for granted.
2. Speaking to each other with respect. It makes me so uncomfortable to overhear couples speaking sarcastically to each other. It is a bad habit we fall into without even being aware of it. It costs nothing to speak well to each other. And when we don’t — it’s a romance-buster.
3. Dating each other. Dating is what helps us fall in love in the first place. It is the thing that most married couples give up first after saying “I do.” But dating is a great way to take a little retreat from those things that can pull us away from each other. At first you may have to look at dating as a project – setting aside time, money and energy for something (or someone) that is important.
I know that it can be expensive to date, but if you are creative, you can have a great date without breaking the bank. You can find inexpensive date ideas here. The point is, to go out and have some fun, to recapture a little of that romance you had early on and saying, you know what? We enjoy being together. We like each other.
4. Doing thoughtful little things. Little things add up to ongoing romance. Write a love note, buy him his favorite sweet treat, send a flirty text – have fun with it! Just let your man know you think about him when you’re apart. Do some of the little things you did when you were falling in love. There is real impact in doing these simple things, they say to your husband, “You matter so much to me.”
They sparked romance before, and they can ignite it again.
In our marriage, we learned that more effort had to be put in after the vows than before them. Today, I see my husband die to self every day to make sure that I know I am loved and that I’m happy. And I try to do the same for him. I can’t think of a better way to be married than how we are right now. It took us a long time to get there – we had to get past some things – but I can’t imagine anything better.
When we choose to love intentionally – by design and not by default – our wedding day becomes the beginning of a great romance story, not the end of it.
We’re talking about Loving Intentionally this week, and I want to share one of my tools for guarding my heart and tongue against the bend in our culture (and often our friendships) to demean, belittle, and yes, bash our husbands. We can be intentional about setting boundaries around what we let into our hearts or out of our mouths. Here’s one way I do both.
An Open Letter to my Friends who Talk Bad About Their Husbands: Why I Love You, But Can’t Hang Out with You Anymore
This is really, really hard for me to do, but I have to tell you why I can’t hang out with you anymore.
I get that marriage is hard. I do. I’ve fought with my husband (remember, when we got married, we had four teenagers, so we had plenty to “discuss” those first years of marriage,) disagreed with him, and sometimes (OK, many times) not been the wife I needed to be.
But here’s the thing: I want to do better. I want to be the wife my husband needs. I want to speak well of him and to him. I want to improve, a little bit, every day.
And when I’m around you, it’s hard. I feel like, because you throw your husband under the bus, you want me to throw my husband right under there as well.
I will not have the kinds of conversations that make men the butt of the joke, because not only am I married to a man, but I have two boys I want to respect as men as well.
I will not agree with how awful your husband is because I don’t know his side of the story.
I will not laugh at TV or movies that feature the guys as “Doofus Dads.”
I will not let you bait me into bashing husbands, yours or mine.
I’m sorry if this seems like an unexpected change-up – like I’m changing the rules of our relationship. But that uncomfortable laugh I make when you put down your husband?
From now on, I’m speaking up. It’s not OK to talk about any man like that in my presence. Ever.
Now don’t get me wrong. If you want me to pray for the tough time you’re going through, if you want to cry on my shoulder and have me recommend books on how you can improve your relationship, I will bring the coffee, milk chocolate and password to my Amazon account. I am there for you friend.
But if you only want to complain, and not let God make a miracle out of your marriage, I need to step away. Because I need to be with women who support the men in their life. I want to surround myself with women who are not perfect wives, but will inspire me to be a wife who follows God and blesses her husband out of the overflow of that relationship with God.
So if you want to be that kind of girl – come on over to my house.
But if not, I’m going to need to bow out. I know God wants more for you than what you have now. I’ll be here when you want that cup of coffee.
This question comes up a lot when I’m speaking: What should I do when my husband is overwhelmed?
And I get it – we are all looking for ways to connect during the hardest times.
His struggle could be because of work – or finances. Or there’s stuff going on with his parents, or in your family. Whatever the reason, we all know when it’s happening.
Maybe he gets really quiet and withdrawn. He may be in a place where talking about it (or about anything,) is overwhelming. He’s exhausted, so either he sleeps all the time or he doesn’t sleep at all.
You know what it looks like for your man. But when you see it happening, don’t just wait for the wave to pass. There are things you can do to actively help your man during this difficult time.
Here are ten things you the right away when you realize your husband is overwhelmed:
1. Feed Him Food. It makes him feel like everything might be okay for just this one hour. I don’t want it to seem like I’m making our guys into cavemen, but there is something about knowing where his next meal is coming from that can really make a man feel more secure. Cook him one of his favorites.
2. Brag on Him. Let him hear you bragging on him – to your friend, to your kids, to his mom. Pick one thing he did this week (went to work on a hard day, played tickle monster with the kids,) and make sure he knows how much it meant to you.
3. Unburden Him. Are there things around the house your husband normally does, that you, (or an older child) can do for him right now? Even hiring a teenager to mow the lawn could be just what your husband needs to know that you’ve got his back.
4. Seduce Him Again. Not trying to go caveman here, but sex is — for most men — the best tension reliever. Setting aside some time will do more for your husband than just about anything else. However, if sex is an area of discouragement, offer a no-strings-attached massage, or head, hand or foot rub.
5. Date Him. Plan a date geared for him. Take him to his favorite dinner spot and to a movie that involves a ball, something blowing up, or robots.
6. Treat Him. A Jamba Juice can improve my husband’s outlook on the world. Surprise him with a little something to let him know that you were thinking of him.
7. Encourage Him. One of the reasons your husband may feel overwhelmed is that he is feeling undervalued. What can you say to make him know that he is valued and respected? Tell him. Need some ideas to get your encouraging words flowing? Download my 21 Post-it-Note Encouragements.
8. Tag Him. Give your man a Facebook or Instagram shout-out and let the world know why he is just that awesome.
9. Pray for Him. Set an alarm on your phone and stop and pray for your husband every single day. Need some inspiration? It’s important to let your husband know you’re praying for him. Roger walks with new confidence when he knows I’ve got his back, prayer-wise.
10. Surprise Him. I have an alert on Amazon any time my man’s favorite author releases a new book. Surprise him with something he loves.
My husband Ron admits he used to be jerk, but I discovered a secret formula that turned him into a loving husband. I started treating him like a VIP!
Ron always wanted my respect, but I thought he should earn it — and I had to feel it — before I could give it. Wrong.
We women are good at pointing out our husbands’ faults and failures and punishing them for not meeting our needs. That only leads to discontent and distance in our marriages. Yelling, nagging, and belittling are disrespectful and ineffective.
I’m suggesting a radical alternative: Treat him like a king, and eventually, he may begin to treat you like a queen.
Instead of waiting for him to earn your respect, behave respectfully and watch him grow into the man God designed him to be.
Twenty-five years ago, we were on the brink of divorce. I was controlling, critical and disrespectful. Ron was defensive and angry. We were Christians but not living spirit-filled lives. My emotions dictated my actions, and I thought it was Ron’s job to make me happy.
Then, we made a decision to rebuild our marriage.
A Christian counselor read Ephesians 5:33 to us: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” He then said, “Nancy, if you want to win Ron back and stay married, you must begin to respect him.” I knew he was right. I swallowed hard and came up with a plan.
Here are three of the ways I began to respect Ron. They spell out the goal — to treat him like a V.I.P.
1. Respect Him Verbally. Replace complaints with compliments. If you want to have a peaceful, happy marriage, learn the art of the compliment. Compliments have magnetic pull. The more you compliment your husband the more he’ll be drawn to you. Notice what he does well and encourage him by complimenting him at least once a day.
Can’t think of anything to admire? Consider these categories:
• Physical traits
• Mental skills
• Financial strengths
• Spiritual growth
• Healthy relationships with others–children, parents, or friends.
If you want your marriage to grow and bloom, water it with kindness and encouragement. Don’t wait until he changes. Just start. Then, as he sees your sincere efforts, he’ll begin to transform too.
If you need to bring up a difficult issue, sandwich it between two compliments. Here’s an example, “Honey, I know how hard you work for our money and that Chloe’s braces will be expensive, but I need your decision before her appointment tomorrow. I hope we can do this for her, but if you want to wait, I trust your judgment. What should I tell the orthodontist?”
2. Respect Him Intellectually. Men are problem-solvers. They like to fix things. Appeal to his intelligence by asking him to help you solve a problem. Instead of saying “This garage is a mess, clean up your camping stuff!” Try, “I’d like your help with something. Could you figure out a storage system for the camping supplies?”
Avoid saying “I think you are wrong about…” Instead say, “I’m confused about…please explain it again.” (Remember to keep your tone of voice sarcasm-free.)
Request his help on spiritual matters, too. Ask him to explain a Bible passage or ask him to pray for you about a specific challenge you’re facing. He’ll likely grow as a spiritual leader when he knows you respect his spiritual life.
Men don’t give a lot of weight to feelings — show them facts and they’re more likely to listen. For example: if he wants to buy a car that you think is too expensive, don’t give free reign to your emotions. Instead, list your expenses and ask him which should be cut out in order to buy his car. Let the facts speak for you.
When you can’t reach an agreement, instead of trying to wear him down ask, “Is that your final decision or can I give you my input?” If it’s his final decision, then honor it. It’s freeing — let him carry the responsibility.
3. Respect Him Physically. Find out what his top three physical needs are. Ron likes the laundry done, sex a least twice a week (guaranteed!) and he likes me to keep my “girly make-up stuff” off of the bathroom counter.
Once these needs are met, he’s content and easy to get along with. I know it sounds simple, but ask your husband what makes him feel loved and appreciated. Then do it!
Be aware of your body language. You can communicate disrespect by rolling your eyes, crossing your arms, or slamming doors. Commit to express your respect heart, mind, and body.
Change your attitude and actions.
Respect is both a verb and a noun: an action and an attitude — begin today to respect your husband in thought, word, and deed. He’ll be more willing and able to give you the love and affection you crave if he’s respected and admired.
When I began to respect my husband, he was skeptical. However as he saw my changed behavior, he began to treat me differently — lovingly. Now we help other couples discover the blessings of true love in action.
Ask the Lord to strengthen you as you obey His word.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13
Guest blogger Nancy C. Anderson is an award-winning author and speaker who loves to teach women and couples to avoid the “Greener Grass Syndrome” by watering their own lawns. Nancy and her husband Ron teach at marriage seminars and banquets. For more information about their speaking schedule and other marriage articles: www.RonAndNancyAnderson.com or their blog www.joyfulmarriage.blogspot.com