Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Month of Marriage: Communication

I want to take this month to talk about marriage.

Each day I would like to share a marriage tip. I have been married for 11 years, to the same man, and while times are not always perfect, we are still together and still in love. He is my best friend. That is the most important thing. I trust him. We communicate. We share. This is the basis for my number one marriage tip.

Tip #1 Say the Words.

You cannot have trust if you do not get your real feelings out there and deal with them. The real feelings you choose to share don't have to be negative ones. Saying "I love you" instead of hoping he or she can see it in your shining eyes or in your daily good deeds will strengthen your relationship. 

Saying how you feel, using I-statements, when you do have to share negative emotions is the best way to share without making your partner defensive. ("I feel guilty when you point that out to me.") 

Forgiving each other, by working out your issues through communicating them and understanding your unique point of view, history/culture (where you are coming from), and emotions, goes a long way towards building trust. 

Being vulnerable and sharing parts of your life was the way you used to get closer back when you were dating, remember? Guess what? You still have to do these things!

Many times, in marriages, our conversations look like this:
There is sooo much I want to share with my husband, especially when it comes to venting about work, but he could care less. That's the truth. He doesn't 'get it', and equally, when he starts telling me all about some I.T. stuff, speaking in just as many acronyms as I have in Special Education, I tune him out. We are working on the relevance part, that shaded part in the middle. I am learning to hold back from every detail and give him a summary if I have to vent, or maybe a funny anecdote. He is also learning to do the same. 

We both have to take time to share our feelings as well. We still have to be vulnerable and give pieces of ourselves. While after 11 years, you'd think you'd know everything about a person by now, but there is always a deeper layer, a memory, an emotion they would never let show to anyone but you. It doesn't happen often, not as often as when we were dating, but occasionally we feel that deep connection again. We feel like we have been equally vulnerable and shared something deep. 

But daily communication doesn't have to be a revelation. It just has to be fair. That's what communication is all about. Getting to that place where you know you are both on the same happy page.

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