It’s a good idea to think about your performance as a man and husband in terms of a grading scale. In days past, while you were still in school, you had some subjects that came easily to you in which you easily achieved an A with little effort. In some other subjects, you had a natural ability, but had to apply yourself more and may have hovered in the B range. Finally, there were (hopefully only) a few areas where you truly lacked a natural ability and had to work diligently to achieve a commendable grade. Life really is no different.
Understanding where you’re strong, and focusing attention where you’re weak can elevate your game. No one enters into a marriage with the expectation that they’ll be a failure. No man says “I do” with the intention of being a deadbeat or a loser. We all aspire to do and to be something greater. We all start off wanting to be that couple that has a 50 year marriage. The truth is, when you first get married, you’re really quite bad. It’s not you, it’s just a whole new reality. Think back to when you were first married, you may have been going through the motions of what you thought a good husband does, but you were lacking the “why” behind those actions. Now, as time passed and you and your wife matured within your marriage, the dynamic shifted and you both better understand one another. While time is an ally in helping you to both mature, it presents the danger of complacency.
This is precisely where grading your performance comes in. I try to go through this process on a regular basis, or any time I feel like Alison and I are getting out of sync. It’s all about overcoming the natural inclination to place blame and to instead accept responsibility. I want to be honest about where I need improvement because I want that 50 year marriage. I know that the joy, happiness, tranquility and strength that a good marriage can bring to a family and a community is only possible when I do everything within my power to live my vocation faithfully. When I’m honest in my evaluation, find resolutions, and then focus on achieving those outcomes, Alison, and our children, are the real winners.
In order to effectively gauge your performance, it’s necessary to be hyper observant in your daily live. Marriage happens in that reality: the daily lived experience. If you’re not carefully paying attention to your behaviors, attitudes, and reactions to situations, you’re not going to be able to find areas for improvement. Oftentimes these observations lead to brutal truths about yourself, character flaws, and past hurts. We all have to confront the uncomfortable in order to move on to greener pastures. Analyzing your responses, especially in times when you’re stressed, frustrated, or reacting poorly to a given situation can help you to identify trigger points and chain reactions so that you can better contain yourself in the future.
It should be noted that evaluating yourself is as much about celebrating the good things that you’re doing as it is about correcting the things that need to be fixed. The fact remains that you’re doing some things very well and exceed not only your peer's, but your wife’s expectations. Those good things that you’re doing should be reinforced, and the underlying actions and principles that result in your high marks should be duplicated in areas that could benefit from them.
The unexamined life is truly not worth living. But even more important is the fact that your wife has zero interest in staying married to the man of her wedding day. She married you because she wants to share a life together and to grow old together, not stand still with a young, wild, and slightly immature man while the world keeps spinning. Keep doing good, understand where you’re falling down and grow in those areas. Then you’ll both benefit from a rich life together.