Treat your spouse as the guest of your life
When I was five, my parents divorced. It was horrible. I had a stomach ache every day, I had trouble sleeping, and I became a lonely child. That’s why when I got married to my husband Daniel, I made the decision to do everything I could to stay married. As frustrated as I sometimes get with my husband, I keep myself from thinking about divorce. In my head, that’s just not an option.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned about preserving a marriage came from a married friend. He said to us, “You want to know the best relationship advice I’ve ever received? Treat your spouse as the guest of your life at the hotel.
It sounded funny, but it’s absolutely true.
Think about how the concierge at the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in treated you…every time you needed anything, they would drop whatever they were doing because you were their number one priority.
Think about how the concierge at the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in treated you. They greeted you with a smile. They provided you with refreshments. And whenever you needed anything, they would drop whatever they were doing because you were their number one priority.
When Daniel asks me to do something for him – it can be as simple as getting him a glass of water – I try to do it right away. When I act fast, I get into the habit of prioritizing my marriage. It also strengthens the mutual trust between Daniel and me. It shows that when he needs me, I’m there for him, and vice versa.
Another thing about a good hotel concierge is that they are always kind and courteous. Unfortunately, spouses are not always kind and courteous to each other. As with any family dynamic, sometimes we can treat those closest to us worse. Why? I guess we have “safety” and we feel we can.
However, that’s not true – especially with marriage. No marriage is 100% secure. The more you are mean or disrespectful or do not put yourself first, small cracks begin to appear in the foundation. It all adds up over overtime until suddenly you’re having a screaming game at 2 a.m. because one of you, for sure, never puts your socks in the basket (ladies, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about).
A hotel concierge is a complete stranger and yet they are so kind to every customer they meet. It may sound silly, but when I argue with my husband, I stop and wonder, “Is this how a janitor would treat him?” or even, “Is this how I would treat a friend?” Of course not. It’s strange that sometimes we treat our friends, and even strangers, better than we treat our spouses.
There are, of course, times when I can’t help my husband with something right away, like when I’m late for work. Instead of ignoring her request, I make sure to explain why I need more time. My husband can’t read my mind.
I also always try to put myself in my husband’s shoes and ask myself, “Is this how I would like to be treated?” There were times when I harassed him, and when I calmed down, I realized I wouldn’t like to be treated that way. I put my marriage before my pride and I apologize. It’s something a hotel concierge is also eager to do: they’ll say they’re sorry if you didn’t have a great experience. They don’t let their ego get in their way. The survival of the hotel is more important to them. The survival of my marriage is more important to me.
What I’ve learned matters most in my relationship is that my husband and I are always willing to try to make things better. As soon as we let go, it’s over. By doing little things every day to feel good, we’re taking our friend’s sage advice, one small — but monumental — step at a time.
Kylie OraLobell is the community and arts editor of the Jewish Journal.