Requests vs. Expectations
As you've probably figured out, I write about how to enjoy being married, not how to be a great spouse or how to turn your husband or wife into one.
One of the greatest keys to having a wonderful marriage is to Expect Love and let go of all those other expectations about what it means to be married. When you expect only that you will be loved, and the snow's piled two feet deep in your driveway, you accept that it would be there whether or not you were married, so it has nothing to do with your marriage.
When you don't expect your spouse to shovel the driveway, it's a delight if he or she does. Or it's a delight to sit by your fire drinking hot cocoa while the money your spouse earned helps pay for that nice fellow with the plow. Or it's a delight to be thanked for doing it or paying for it. Or maybe it's even a delight to have the opportunity to delight your spouse.
If you expect your spouse to do any particular thing because you're married, you're disappointed if that doesn't happen and not all that delighted if it does. If you let go of the expectation, there are many more opportunities to be delighted.
But does this mean you'll need to do all the housework and all the yard care and all the child care and all the car maintenance and all the income earning for the two of you? Not usually. And if there is some part of it you don't want to do, I highly recommend asking your mate to do it.
When you make a request, it's easier to show you love, easier to earn your gratitude. What's the difference between a request and an expectation? The difference is that there is no penalty for saying no.
Showing the person you love how much you love them and earning their gratitude is one of the most enjoyable things any of us get to do in life. Watch any couple that has just met. Receiving love is great fun, but being loving is even more gratifying.
If the person who loves you says no to a request, then there is more to doing it than you imagine. Your spouse expects the personal cost to be too high or the reward for doing it to be too low. Nagging or whining won't change either of those. Find another way to get out of doing what you don't want to do and wait to be surprised with some other form of loving you.
I won't pretend this is easy. It's hard to get up and go to work while you're spouse is unemployed or sleeping late. It's hard to come home from work and realize your children really need all that children need. It's hard to finish repairing the broken bathroom light, mowing the lawn, organizing a bake sale, and still need to cook dinner. But these things need to get done whether you're loved or not. When you see an out (if only my spouse did these, if only I got rich quick on the internet, if only my fairy godmother would get some mice and dancing teapots to do them...), it just adds resentment to duty.
And no one can delight you while you're busy nursing resentment.