I do have to say that there are definitely times when playing games actually is a good idea…in December I will give you some good ideas for the bedroom! 🙂 However, today I am going to talk about when not to play games in your marriage. The same couple that told us to have periodic check-ups also told us not to play games. What they meant by that is if you want or need something then you shouldn’t make the other person guess – just tell them.
I think women especially can get this romantic, unrealistic, fairy-tale view of what marriage is going to be like. They think about their Prince Charming coming home from work to just know exactly what they need. He can read your mind perfectly. In fact, he can even think of sweet things to do for you before you think of them. Then after giving you a nice foot rub, he carries you off to bed. The longer you are married the more you realize that your husband just doesn’t get it. You can start to get frustrated and start thinking….”If he really loved me, he would know what I need.” “If he really cared, he would know what perfect gift to get me for Christmas. I shouldn’t have to tell him.” If you fall into this trap of refusing to help the poor guy out you will just find yourself disappointed time and time again.
I frequently remind myself of the important rule. “Don’t play games!” The two questions I try to ask myself are: “Am I going to be frustrated if he doesn’t do this?” and “Am I going to be mad or hurt if this doesn’t happen?” If the answer to either one of these questions is Yes, then I need to do something about it. I need to relay to him my desires in a respectful and loving way. Then I need to trust that he will do his best to take care of me.
This is where it is important to remember that guys and girls are very different. Your husband doesn’t notice the dirty floor that needs to be scrubbed or the clothes that need to be picked up off the floor. Most guys don’t know instinctively what needs to be done to help you get supper on the table. They need to be told or shown. Most guys, even after several years of marriage, panic trying to figure out the perfect birthday gift. If they have used up flowers, chocolate or lotion already that year they might not be able to figure out something else. Now, some guys are great at this. Nate actually is really good but mainly because he has learned to write it down when I say “this would be nice to have.” That way he remembers it when the time comes to buy a gift.
It is also important to remember that most of the time they aren’t clueless and selfish; they just can’t figure out exactly what you need or think you need. For example, when Jacob was a baby and needing to be held a lot in the evening I started getting frustrated with Nate. I wanted him to help me get the house put back together, the kitchen cleaned, and house projects done but he wasn’t doing any of that or even offering to help! Finally one night I expressed my frustration. He listened patiently, and then explained that he thought he was serving me by holding Jacob. He reminded me that if he put Jacob down, he would cry and then I would have to hold him. He thought if he just took care of Jacob then I would be free to get whatever I wanted done. That is what he thought I would want. So he wasn’t being lazy, sitting on the couch with the baby – he was actually serving me. And after I thought about it, he was right. This was the best way to serve me in this season of life. This way one of us was completely free to tackle a task versus two of us working on it here and there.
This is why it is important to communicate your needs and wants. First, it helps your spouse to know how to bless you in a way that really blesses you. The other person could be using all their energy and time serving and loving the other in a way that doesn’t help their spouse. For example, if a husband brings home a little gift for his wife each week he may think that he is blessing her. But if that doesn’t speak love to his wife and she really wants him to just vacuum the floor, he is potentially wasting his time, effort and money. (More on that from Gary Chapman.) Communication will also cut down on preventable frustrations and hurt feelings. For example, I got the idea in my head that it would be amazing to come home from the hospital after giving birth to my firstborn and see a bouquet of flowers exactly like my wedding bouquet sitting on my dinning room table. I have no idea why I wanted this, but I did, and I knew I would be very disappointed with Nate if this didn’t happen. Thankfully I did remember the good advice and told him before Hannah was born what I wanted. He thanked me multiple times and told me that never in a million years would he have thought to do that. He might have thought about getting flowers but not ones that looked like our wedding bouquet. Since I was willing to share this desire with Nate and did not make him guess what I wanted, I have been able to enjoy a beautiful bouquet of flowers with each one of my children. Which is so much better than having a “silly little request” be unmet and ruin one of the most important times in our lives.
Do you express your desires and needs with your spouse openly and honestly or do you play games and make them guess what you want? Think about the times that you are frustrated or mad at your spouse. Could those feelings have been prevented if you shared information with your spouse before that situation occurred? Do you have suggestions for how to share your needs without being demanding or selfish?