Standard Features

Merlyn and I were having a conversation the other night that got me thinking…

Me: What special things do you wish that I did for you? (Please note, this was a “G” rated conversation.) I was thinking he would say cook dinner, watch TV with him, go camping with him, etc. Oh no, he drops a bomb:

Merlyn: I just want you to be nice

My thoughts: OUCH! Be nice! That’s all your asking of me! Seriously, are you kidding me? But, he’s right. I come home exhausted, emotionally spent and expecting him to not expect me to do anything; expecting him to understand that I’m tired; expecting him to not get frustrated that I’m irritable. He’s right. I need to be nice.

Me: I’m sorry. Nice should really be a ‘standard feature’. You shouldn’t have to ask for it.

So I got to thinking…

Nice is one of those things in a relationship that should just be a given. I don’t think it should be something you hope for or receive occasionally. It shouldn’t be something that comes as an upgrade. Nice should be a standard feature.

What are some other things that you think should be ‘standard features’ in a relationship?

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  • June 30, 2008  

    back rubs should come standard!

    In all seriousness, the nice thing hit me about a year ago too. My husband has always had the niceness thing down…but I wasn’t giving it back in return. It’s a really big deal that easy to overlook.

  • alanglz June 30, 2008  

    i think… honesty… friendship…
    but yeah, being nice is a great deal in a relationship

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  • tam June 30, 2008  

    eye contact.

    im big on eye contact. if we’re talking, brent and me, and he starts looking over at the tv – or his computer, i’ll just stop.

    hand holding. yum. i love to hold hands!

  • Heidi June 30, 2008  

    Tam you stealer…..


    Time to be alone ( sounds crazy, but I need 30 minutes to wind down from my work day)
    The words I love you uncoached.
    prayer together
    sharing of responsibilities

  • ncarnes June 30, 2008  

    Learning this has saved me a bunch of headaches in marriage.

  • outofthecleft June 30, 2008  

    How about the question “What did you mean by that?” when your spouse says something that sounds offensive? So many of our fights would never have happened if one of us had just asked that simple question.

  • Marla Saunders June 30, 2008  

    Speaking well of each other in front of other people…no “You should see what he did” kind of jokes. Respect.

    Roses once in awhile.

    The “nice” thing is really convicting. Gotta wonder how often I’ve not been nice…

  • Ally July 1, 2008  

    Grace and mercy….Lord knows I need it to be extended to me; it’s just a lot harder to extend it to others. I’m so glad we have such a powerful example in our Savior.

  • totaltransformation July 1, 2008  

    I wish my wife would watch and enjoy professional wrestling. 😉

  • Jan Owen July 1, 2008  

    @totaltransformation – good luck on that one!

    You guys stole lots of my answers – touch, eye contact, respect, speaking well of others.

    I will add one: Believing the best about one another – perhaps this is trust, but I’m not sure it’s exactly the same thing. Like if we’re watching tv and a beautiful woman comes on I will choose to believe my husband is not wishing I looked like that (cause I don’t). OR I choose to believe that he means what he says, or that when he forgets something he simply forgets it and doesn’t do it because I am not important to him. Maybe another way to say this is to say “Cut one another some slack”.

    My husband does this without thinking. I process way too deeply and sometimes am not good at this. I got hurt by someone else doing it to me and it taught me a very valuable marriage lesson. Now I really try to give him the benefit of the doubt and BELIEVE THE BEST.

  • July 1, 2008  

    OH – TAM – Eye contact – good one!

  • Brooke Widmer July 1, 2008  

    I would have to say we try to maintain the modified version of the “Golden Rule” in our marriage as a standard feature, we just need a little maintenance once in a while!
    Our modified version is “Do unto others at they would have you do unto them” meaning that you should take the other’s preferences or needs into account and look at things from their perspective before acting (or reacting!) While the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have done unto you is good in theory, we are all different and could be missing the mark with others.
    The only example I can think of right now (that I can be public about!) is in regards to conversation skills. Being female, I tend to like to just talk about things sometimes and I’m not necessarily looking for an answer or a “quick fix” to a problem. My husband, on the other hand, is looking for an active listener in me and wants my input and advice when discussing just about anything. We’ve been married 9 years and are still working through this one!!
    Great post to get us thinking about ‘standard features’ though. Best to not take anything for granted! Thanks Jenni!

  • Jan Owen July 1, 2008  

    @Brooke, I’ve been married for 24 years and we’re still working on it too!

  • Jenni Catron July 1, 2008  

    Great discussion everyone!

    @Heidi – I can really relate to the alone time. That’s a big one for me.

    @Jan – believing the best – this is huge. Why is it that the person we love the most we are sometimes the most skeptical of?

    @Brooke – we’re at the 9 year mark too and it sounds like our conversations are very similar to yours.

  • Giant Idiot July 1, 2008  

    I agree with most everyone else. Honesty and understanding are big ones for me. I know Callie wishes I would be a little less sarcastic which means being nicer.

    Tam I have been called out on the eye contact one.

  • jdellis July 1, 2008  

    NFL football is already common ground for my wife and I so that one is already squared away.

    However, good communication is not always easily accomplished between us. Its not bad, but could use some improvement. Too many assumptions and not enough listening on my part for sure. Typical guy, right?

  • Pete Wilson July 1, 2008  

    Honesty is my big one. Luckily Brandi has that on her list as well.

  • brandiandboys July 1, 2008  

    I’m with eye contact as well as respect. Pete is usually great with both. He’s better at the eye contact when the computer is put away! 🙂

  • Rachel July 1, 2008  

    Ha! Talk about the Holy Spirit knowing how to convict us of the ‘little’ stuff…I read this right after Jim left the house. I had planned to spend my morning working out and doing errands after dropping off the kids at MDO…BUT Jim wanted to go look at houses in hopes of finding our next house. So, after spending the morning out with him (incl. lunch), he kisses me goodbye so he can go to work and I say, “Yep, I’ve got 1 hr to myself before picking up the kids. Glad we got your agenda covered this morning.” HOW AWFUL OF ME! Sometimes a paradigm shift can go a long way. Thanks for reminding me that ‘nice’ is a better choice. I think another standard feature should be flirting with each other, at least occasionally…gotta remind him of why he picked me (despite my selfish outbursts).

  • Jared Woodard July 1, 2008  

    I agree with rachel. I think flirting should definetly be a standard feature in any long lasting relationship,luckily my wife has it down pat(Mine need’s some work though).

  • Onemorecup aka j.p. July 1, 2008  

    Wow! This is one of the nicest blogs I’ve run into in years! Not only is it well-maintained and simple and classy, but you folks really care and that is obvious!

    Okay…most everything offered by most of us is very ‘typical.’ Sure…we all think it, and most of us are understanding-to-forgiving to the inth degree; however, c’mon, when rubber hits the road, we all have our moments that resemble the ugliest of uglier.

    If I may: Heidi makes a great point about ‘alone time.’ Just as a guess, I believe that more angst is caused by not being able to have this luxury. Further, Marla makes an awesome point about saying something nice or wonderful about our significant other’s in the presence of friends. So true!

    My darling bride and I are approaching our 20th and people ask me daily, ‘How long have you been married?’ of course wondering if we’re newly weds. And in finale, Jenni, thank you for sharing this with us! It takes a mighty big, yet humble person to even mention it let alone take attribution for it. The power of just plain being nice, thank you. Cheers!


  • loridknerr July 1, 2008  

    This is a tough one to actually do on a daily basis, but build each other up. Sometimes the smallest comment from us can do so much good OR HARM depending on the comment.

    Another must is “girl time” and “guys time”. We need to be around our individual friends from time to time!

  • michelle2005 July 1, 2008  

    This is an awesome topic! The first thing on our list (Hubby & I) was honesty. Honesty, is the “foundation” of the relationship…just as important as the foundation to the building of a house. The “foundation” isn’t where you’s what you build upon.

    For us, once honesty was established, we were able to “build” upon that foundation. I had no idea a relationship could be like this. I’m not a 20 something…I’m in my 50’s.

    I’m married to the most amazing man on the planet. Since I spent three decades working in numerous nations across four continents…I can say with confidence…that my guy is the best on the planet.

    An area that I’ve seen some make mistakes…is not entering into the things that your partner enjoys. Many ladies don’t really like sports, and their partner does. Rather than resent the time he spends watching the game, or playing Golf, Tennis…etc. Join in. Even if it’s not your favorite…our partner loves that we join in…even if it’s only as a spectator.

    Wow! There are so many ‘branches’ to this topic. I just read the above comment. The guy mentioned flirting…yikes…that’s a given. Many years ago, I learned that sex begins in the kitchen. At first, I wondered about this. I thought it was literal (although it can be). Then I came to realize that intimacy is an attitude…that should be throughout the day…not reserved only for night time. My hubby has, consistanly, been very romantic…he’s also my very best friend.


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  • Jenni Catron July 1, 2008  

    Wow, you guys! I am so inspired by this discussion.

    @onemorecup thank you for the kind words about my blog

  • michelle2005 July 1, 2008  


    You said, ” Wow, you guys! I am so inspired by this discussion

    If my opinion counts, I’d like to say that by you bringing up this topic…allows us (your readers) to get a glimpse into the heart of an amazing young woman!

    Just as the “Word” tells us “…life is but a vapor”…. Most ladies only use their best china, crystal & silver when “special” company arrives or for “special” occassions. However, there nothing more “special” than the mate the Lord has blessed you with. This being said…will let you know why I use all our fancy stuff…every day! Many of our friends think this is “excessive”…but how can it be “excessive” to demonstate your love for your mate?

    Did any of us think it “excessive” when God, the Father, sent Jesus to die on the cross for OUR sins?

    Jenni…keep bringing topics like this, and you’ll be adding to your rewards in heaven for having a hand in helping people stay close to their mates…and the Lord !


  • tam July 2, 2008  

    i think you should compile all of this and make a handy little self help booklet!

    you’ve got a winner here girl 😉

  • michelle2005 July 2, 2008  

    Tam…you said to Jenni “i think you should compile all of this and make a handy little self help booklet!

    That’s a wonderful idea! Jenni…quick…write that down 🙂


  • Jenni Catron July 2, 2008  

    @Michelle thank you for your kind words.

    @Tam good idea, very good idea!