When I was going through counseling many years ago I remember getting to the point where I wondered if my wife Nanwould ever be satisfied with all the things that were being asked of me. It seemed that no matter what changes I made, it was never enough for her. There was always MORE. (Of course the counselor was asking her to make changes as well, but I wasn’t too concerned about that.)
So has Nan ever stopped asking for more?
No. There is still an outstanding list that follows me around. But I was asking the wrong question. The right question is “Is there a point where it is enough, where she is satisfied with the relationship, and more importantly, with me?” And the answer to that question is “Yes!” even though she will always want more.
I used to interpret her desire for more as an indication of my inadequacy as a husband and her unreasonableness as a wife. I didn’t understand that this longing for more was just her nature as a woman. Nan says she is very satisfied with our relationship. But she will never stop trying to make it better.
Once I started seeing the new requests as “extra credits” or “bonus points” in our marriage as opposed to demands for competency I was able to relax a lot. I could remind myself that she is happy with me in the macro – even though she may often be asking for micro adjustments.
All that said I would like to remind you that we both had to go to counseling to reach a minimum level of acceptable behavior towards each other in our marriage. I wasn’t performing adequately and neither was she. We both had a lot of leftover baggage from our families of origin that had to be dealt with. It was humbling and difficult to admit that at the beginning, because it meant having to embrace change and break out of well established patterns – even if the routines were toxic.
Also, where a man can be stubborn and resistant, a woman can be demanding and hold unreasonable expectations. Both of them need to be humble and realistic. The man must develop a skill for listening so she doesn’t think he doesn’t care. The woman must learn to keep it short and to point so he doesn’t flood out from too many words.
The best thing Nan does is to reassure me that she is satisfied with me, proud of me, and happy to be with me – even as she is asking for me to make subtle changes. I want to emphasize the word “asking” – she doesn’t ever make demands.
Nan will often blame the curse placed on women by God for her burden of caring so much for our relationship, which comes from the second half of Genesis 3:16.
Genesis 3:16 – Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”