As a spouse, what grade do you deserve?

“Sometimes the better comes after the worse.”                                 Doug Larson

As a teacher, it is my job to assess or grade my students’ work or their ability to perform a skill or meet a standard. However, very rarely do I take the time to assess my ability to perform in the various areas of my life. For instance, as a teacher, I am super reflective when it comes to making improvements to better meet the needs of my students. I modify lessons, increase instructional time for certain standards if my students are not performing as I had anticipated, and I contact parents if their assistance is necessary, and many times it is. The truth is, as a wife, I am not this proactive. In fact, if I were to grade myself as a wife, I would give myself a big fat “F”! Yep, an F!

As a wife, I pretty much suck. Now before you go and say, “Now, Tamara, stop being so hard on yourself.” Let me stop you. Because for the first time in a long time, I’m not being hard on myself, I’m being real with myself. Could my husband be better, do better, yes, but so can I.

So why and how do I suck as a wife, you might be asking. And I have to say that reflectively speaking, this is not an easy answer to articulate, but I am going to do my best to communicate what my many months of self-reflection have revealed to me. And trust me, it’s not something that I am excited to share. So moving forward, just know this is as real as it gets in my world, and honestly, sometimes that’s what it takes.

  1. I do not know my role as a wife. Now, this has nothing to do with me being submissive, but everything to do with me stepping back and allowing my husband to take the lead. Because I am a doer or what you might call a “control freak”, I am always doing things to make sure that things are done the way want them done. This happens quite a bit and very often without my husband’s input. He, in turn, is left to go along with my plans or in many cases my mishaps. By always having to have things my way, I remove his chance to have a say in the matter. In other words, I silence his voice. And that is wrong. In a marriage, both voices count, both parties should be actively engaged in ALL decisions that affect one another and those that especially affect the family as a whole.
  2. I act as an Independent Woman. Yes, this is different from #1 because my independent behavior never helped us cultivate a fertile ground so that our life as one could take root and flourish. What I instead cultivated was a marriage that consisted of 2 single people. A marriage where the pronouns, I, my, and mine were used more than we, us, and ours. My independence (which I always counted as a strength) did nothing to foster the union between husband and wife, but it instead enabled the selfish behaviors of 2 people who happened to share nothing but a last name and children. This was definitely a wrong thing to do.
  3. My sacrifice was the only one that mattered. I somehow counted my contribution to the marriage as more important or greater than my husband’s. For instance, no matter what I did, it was a big deal and worthy of notice and gratitude, but whenever my husband went above and beyond, I’d just gloss it over. No matter what his contribution was, I always counted it as minimal. I always kept score, and guess what, so did he. My behavior did nothing but help to create a norm where neither of us ever acted on the other’s behalf out of love, concern, or consideration, but out of resentment, guilt, or regret. Not the best environment.
  4. I tried to fix him instead of fixing myself. Whenever anything went wrong, I never looked to myself for correction, I only took note of his actions. An act that caused my heart to harden, and to easily dismiss my own wrongdoings. I only kept an accurate account of the wrongs I suffered. I did this more often than not, and I never owned up to the fact that change starts with me.

My self-assessment has helped me see the ways in which my actions have caused issues of selfishness and resentment to take root. It also showed me that I am tired of being a failure as a wife. I need to make some personal changes, implement some interventions, and take ownership of my actions. Have I seen any improvement, no, not really. For of course, growth does not happen overnight but incrementally. However, one thing is clear, I have my work cut out for me.

Marriage is work, but I know with some change, my marriage will work.