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For Your Marriage

Josh and Stacey Noem have been married for almost 20 years and have three children in middle school and high school. They blog about parenting and their adventures as a family.

New Year’s Resolution

On the 1st of January, the Feast of Mary Mother of God, we attended mass at a parish in Texas. The priest offered a joke about New Year’s resolutions and married couples.

He said that, speaking to a husband, he asked what the man’s New Year’s resolution was. The husband responded, “To make my wife as happy as possible.” He then turned to the wife and asked the same question. To which she responded, “To help him keep his New Year’s resolution.” (insert laughter)

I have to admit, I think the resolution to try to make Joshua as happy as possible this year is a very worthy endeavor. So much so, that I have actually decided to adopt it as my New Year’s resolution.

I hope this doesn’t sound awful, especially after 13 1/2 years of marriage, but I think this will be a new mindset for me to some degree.

I think Joshua and I are particularly good and intentional (one of our favorite words) about challenging each another and “smoothing out each others’ rough edges.” In-between, and sometimes in the midst of that way of being, we have a lot of fun together.

But I don’t readily recall approaching my marriage as “trying to make Joshua happy.” No, I would say I approach our marriage as trying to love Joshua everywhere and in all things. But sometimes that isn’t about “happy.” Sometimes that is about struggle and challenge. And after a little while it is easy to overlook making choices simply for the sake of making him happy.

Some examples (and for whatever reason, these revolve around food):

First, our Sunday breakfast usually consists of eggs and waffles I cook when we first wake up so that children have nice full bellies by the time we head to Mass. Joshua is not a big egg eater, but has a particular affinity for egg sandwiches. Now for most of our meals, I have a high priority on our “sharing” a meal as a family. That is, we all eat the same thing. Our children are not about to eat egg sandwiches, so we usually have scrambled eggs and then our waffles.

Thinking of my new resolution, this Sunday I put together an egg sandwich for Joshua in addition to scrambling eggs for the children. When he came down to breakfast, he noticed immediately and was grateful. And happy.

Next, apples. We almost always eat sliced apples with our dinner (see an earlier post on our Simon’s eating habits). Joshua and I happen to cut apples in what are apparently pretty different ways. How different can they be, you might ask? Well, I would say, not at all different. He would likely say, markedly different. Regardless, he can tell the difference.

With my new resolution, I decided to try to be more mindful of cutting the apples the way he prefers them for dinner. Such a small thing. He noticed right away and was grateful. And happy.

On the one hand it is so easy! On the other, like many New Year’s resolutions, it is so hard. Sometimes, I just plain forget. I forget to consider what difference small things might make in his happiness. And that is why I think it is a very worthy resolution: I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to rest in our comfortable (though loving and life-giving) relationship and fail to strive to make Joshua as happy as I can.