I had been married for a little over ten years when an engaged friend asked for one important piece of marriage advice.
Well this tested my grey matter. Not because I truly know nothing about marriage, although it seems I know less the longer I have been married, but because I guess no one had ever asked me this before.
One piece of marriage advice? I pondered this challenge.
Smoke must have been beginning to seep from my ears as I tried to calculate an answer. Something worthy of great wisdom. Something she had not heard before. Something she could really use. I felt like Houdini bound in chains and a straitjacket trying to wiggle free in front of an audience.
She finally piped up and said that she didn’t need the advice right now. I could tell her later, when I eventually thought of something.
I heaved a sigh of reprieve and told her I would put my little brain to work and have an answer for her soon.
You may realize by this point in the story, I don’t like being asked tough questions I don’t know the answer to. I also don’t like being put on the spot. I feel like a possum in headlights, about to be run over and squished into road kill. My mind literally goes blank sometimes. Blank. All systems of computing and thinking seem to shut down, requiring a reboot.
Now luckily this doesn’t happen too often, but it is something I have come to learn about myself.
If this happens to you, please let me know. I thought it happened occasionally to everyone. But when I mentioned it to a friend, she had no concept of what I was talking about.
So much for thinking we are all alike. Because we are not. And sometimes this surprises me.
What advice finally came to me? I told my young friend to, “know thyself.” To take time to figure out what she liked and disliked. To know her personality and love language. But most importantly, to know what irritated her and frustrated her. It would be easier to meld two lives together if she knew herself and could communicate her needs. It would point out what she needed to work on and help her better understand her mate.
How knowing yourself puts you in the driver’s seat.
I knew she was a social butterfly, but did she? And what happened if she married a stay-at-home- every-night-of-the-week guy? Frustration and resentment would build unless she understood this about herself and then took steps to get out more than he did.
She was ultimately in charge of her happiness and wellbeing, not him. It was her responsibility to communicate her needs or preferences, because others can rarely guess them, nor should they have to.
If she needed a time out during an argument to collect her thoughts and calm down, she would need to know this about herself and then take steps to ensure it happened.
If she worked better in the morning, then it would be best to schedule the most demanding chores early in the day. If in the morning it took her ten grumpy minutes to wake, then it was best to try not to engage with others for ten minutes.
If she hates surprises and her mate is one who likes to spring last minute surprises on people, then it is best to communicate this to him and also realize that when there is a surprise, her first response will not be the best response, or the one she wants to blurt out of her mouth.
Getting to know yourself is a process.
I know I have had many epiphany moments during my marriage when I realized my hubby and I are not alike. Not even similarly alike sometimes. Okay, complete opposites in many ways. And in ways that are neither good or bad, but just are.
Our upbringings were different. Our personalities are different. Our preferences are different. Our love languages are different. Our way of approaching life and challenges and people is different. And yet, the funny thing is, we agree on so many things.
I was raised in a house with 5 other siblings and was expected to blend in, not complain, and say thank you and smile no matter what happened. We were not asked what we wanted, nor taught that we had needs or that it was alright to state our needs. I don’t fault my parents, they were not raised that way either.
The result was that I was taught to please people. I went to the restaurant everyone else wanted to and never thought about where I really wanted to go. It took years to realize that I could have opinions. To state them. To ask for things. To get to know myself and what I would want. To evaluate my motives or the perceived truths I believed.
I learned I was a night owl. An introvert who likes to socialize with others but needs alone time. That I hate being interrupted during a task. That I thought I needed to be a perfectionist. That I like to talk about something to help come to a decision or to cement information in my brain. That my mind goes blank under stress. That it is hard to laugh at myself and admit I am wrong. That I need a clean kitchen before I can start cooking. That I thought if someone loved me they could read my mind. And more.
Learning these things about myself helped me understand myself better. It showed me what I needed to work on. It helped me communicate what I wanted or needed. It helped me better understand those around me. I began to understand what frustrated me and caused me to be crabby and critical. It helped me love myself and better love those around me.
Here I am talking in the past tense, but the truth is I am still getting to know myself. Still learning things I didn’t know. We can live with someone for decades and think we know everything about them and then they tell a story and we discover something new. That someone can be our self or someone else. Because there is one thing for sure, as humans we never stay the same and we will never totally know someone. Even our self.
So why should we get to know our self? Here are a few reasons.
5 Benefits of knowing yourself:
1. We can be our true self, and quit trying to be something we are not. Or saying yes to things we should say no to. Or apologizing for how we were made or the way we function. It is easier to set boundaries with others and our self when we know our quirks, motivations, frustrations, and our limitations. If we are not a kiddy person, our talents would be better used by not volunteering for nursery duty. If we know we have a hard time working with background distraction, we can relocate to a quiet space.
2. We are better able to serve, help, and understand others. Knowing our self helps us develop awareness for others and see how they are similar and different from us. In the process of learning about our self, we can better understand others, relate to them, and live with them. When we see the variety within people, it is easier to accept them and realize they are not trying to purposely irritate us. The morning person is not trying to annoy the night owl when they jump out of bed singing at 4 in the morning.
3. It is loving to our self and others. Knowing our self helps us relate better to others and communicate our needs, wants, and frustrations. We are not placing the whole burden on others of reading our mind or trying to figure us out. It helps when a social butterfly understands their mate is a stay-at-home. Or that too many decisions is not a good thing for some.
Knowing our self, good points, weaknesses, just because points, and sins, helps us better accept our self, and in the process, accept and love others, flaws and all. When we begin to see our self more realistically, we have an easier time offering compassion, kindness, grace, and forgiveness to others. Acknowledging that we are far from perfect, allows others to be flawed.
4. We can make the best choices. Knowing our likes and dislikes helps us identify our dreams and passions. It helps us navigate life and people. Understanding our thoughts and behaviors, allows us to change unhealthy ones to more healthy ones. Perceiving the lies we believe, helps us replace them with truth.
When we understand our self, our personality, what makes us tick, how we relate to the world and others, our strengths and weaknesses, our pet-peeves and trigger points, we are better able to change, adapt, and improve. If interruptions during deep thought irritate us, starting a big project when the house is full of people is probably setting us up for disaster.
5. It is easier to be vulnerable with others and God. When we are honest with our self, it is easier to be honest with others. Honest with God. Because when we honestly know our self, we realize we are far from perfect; really, more human than not. We come to realize that others see our flaws, and yet we are still loved by them and God, even though we are not perfect. And that frees us. Allows us to be more honest and vulnerable with others and quit trying to be something or someone we are not.
So, do you see the benefits of knowing thyself?
Give yourself permission to know yourself. Start on the journey and prepare for discovery.
Learn how you are uniquely and wonderfully made. What makes your tick and brings you joy, what disappoints and frustrates your soul.
God already knows all about you and loves you just as you are. He wants you to get to know yourself, because in the process you are getting to know more about his creation, about him, and his plans for you.
Don’t you want to learn about what makes you so special?
He wants you to know yourself and love yourself, just like he already does.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
P.S. As you embark on this quest to know yourself, you may also enjoy Will the Real You Please Stand?
If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.
Join the Discussion: What have you learned about yourself? What benefits have you discovered from learning more about yourself?
May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).
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Rebecca L Jones says
Love the glass, do you make it? I’m an only child, self absorbed in my writing. I’m a kiddy person having worked with them, but don’t like bratty behavior in them or grown ups. I love helping people but not everyone “gets” me. My marriage advice would be to wait for the right person, trust God with that, and seek that three fold cord. I know we have love languages and He speaks them all, but we need to speak His. It is warm here in Ga., I like fall and spring, don’t mind the cold but wouldn’t know how drive in snow, and it it always so hot in summer. I used to rake leaves too, I read about you doing that. Glad now I don’t have any.
Theresa Boedeker says
Rebecca: No, but I would love to learn to blow glass. Great marriage advice. Wow! Thanks for sharing. I feel like I know you. I also get absorbed in writing. So easy to lose one self when you are doing something you love. Not raking leaves, now that would save time. Great point. He does speak all of our love languages.
Theresa, The glass pieces are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing these images:) I got so busy admiring them and scrolling down and up and back again that I’ve only read half your post. Will be back later to comment. Gratefully, Katie
Theresa Boedeker says
They are beautiful glass pieces. Most of the pictures from this post were all taken at the gift store of the Chihuly Glass Museum in Tacoma, Washington. The pieces were so fun to look at. They have a big glass blowing studio there where you can watch artists blow glass pieces. Watched 5 artist blow a long cylindrical vase like container with lid that was probably as tall as a person-container and lid together.
I learned that I enjoy creative art endeavors in a group setting. I enjoy learning art with other people. I also learned something bad about myself, that is, that I will put completion of a task ahead of conversation. Complete task first, then talk. Not good in maintaining relationships. People do come first, not second. I am trying to improve, but it is not easy to change ways of doing. However, I am glad that I am learning to improve, no matter how slowly! As usual, this is a great posting. Cannot wait for the author’s book.
Theresa Boedeker says
Colleen, you and I have two traits in common. To put people in front of tasks (yes, working on that) and group art classes. My favorite class was pottery. Us sitting all in a row, our wheels spinning and our hands working the clay. I would get lost in the rhythm, but also enjoyed the comradery.
Good for you for noticing the bad trait about yourself, and then making changes. That is what life is all about. Becoming more like Him as we inch towards the finish line.
Really needed to read #5 today!
Did you paint the flowers with the dark background?
Theresa Boedeker says
No, they were on a blackboard menu at a restaurant.
Love number 5 (but it is scary) because when we see ourselves, the good, bad, and ugly, we can then turn around and encourage others through our vulnerability and point them to God who loves them.
Sarah Koontz says
Know thyself. Not your typical marriage advice, yet it is so spot on and necessary! Beautifully shared. Thank you!
Theresa Boedeker says
Thanks Sarah. Her dad was a pastor, so I figured the most important stuff had already been covered.
Becky Hastings says
This is great advice! It is important to know oneself to truly enter in to full relationship with another. The only aside is that we will change. Knowing that ahead of time, and being willing to change together, being willing to say “I will love you now and who you become down the road” can only help marriages be stronger.
Theresa Boedeker says
Oh we do change, Becky. And in so many ways. We do need to love each other as we change. And we have to have faith that the other person will change mainly for the better. Because often they do. Thanks for brining this point up.
Connie from Master's Hand Collection says
I also have to take time to really think about the important questions in life. Glad I’m not the only one. Wonderful post and so full of truth. As a single lady I’ll take all the advice I can get while I’m waiting for God’s perfect match for me.
Theresa Boedeker says
Thanks for stopping by, Connie. Yeah, there are two of us thinking about the big questions of life before we answer.
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Very good blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew
of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
I’d really like to be a part of online community where I
can get opinions from other experienced people that share the same interest.
If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
Thanks a lot!
Theresa Boedeker says
No, I don’t. Hope you find some.