I vividly remember my best friend telling me these words shortly after I was married; “Tiffany, sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it”. I was whining to her after a few months of my own wedded bliss. She had one WHOLE YEAR up on me in this marriage thing. I was frustrated with my love (unmet expectations, what?) and asking her for help. She told me to be an encouragement to my spouse even on the days when I literally had nothing nice to say. Those days come to other people too, right?
Yes, she told me to fake it till you make it. She told me that sometimes, as wives we can be overly-critical of our spouses. We see in one another all of our deepest faults. As we live life together, we are perpetually exposed to all those weaknesses within one another and frankly, we’re all annoying at some point or another in life. Yes, even me. Yes, even you. She told me the way out is to speak words of kindness. She told me the way out is to find even the tiniest speck of goodness and blow it up big with celebration.
Now, to my newly-wed self, I couldn’t help but think “BUT I WILL BE LYING!”. “Come on Tiffany, you married the guy for sound reasons. You aren’t lying, you’re pre-gaming.” She’s smart that one…
This past summer my husbando and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. We even gave it a hash tag, #lucky13; we’re silly-strange like that.
The heart of this advice is still ringing true in our marriage. There are even more times now that we have to do the hard work of re-positioning our thoughts; because it is so true that our own perspective can make all the difference in the world.
Later on in marriage, perhaps around year 7 or so, we read a book called “Love and Respect”. The author, Eggerichs, called it believing the best in your spouse. That sounds a lot more lovely than fake it till you make it. He explains that whenever we start spiraling down in our mind into anger or resentment, bitterness or frustration, that the way back out again is to believe the best in our spouse. Focus on the goodness and the love that you share between the two of you and make the active choice to believe that your spouse is not intentionally harming you, annoying you, or frustrating you. This mutual kindness goes a long way towards squashing the gunk that can build up in our hearts.
I’ve found that this truth applies to a lot of other relationships too, not just in marriage. In our culture we hear a cry for authenticity in all that we do and often that translates into this brutal sort of honesty that does nothing more than tear down and destroy what has been built so painstakingly. I believe that love is a choice. We are capable of moving our hearts and heads into alignment more than we realize. Believing the best in another person and emphasizing the smallest glimpse of good we see in them has a lot of power. We can change an entire day for someone else by choosing to love even the hard-to-love people.
So try it out this week in that relationship you are wrestling through. Believe the good. Keep good boundaries and be clear for your part of the communication and relationship and search out for what is good.