Lessons About Marriage This Week
Let's be real this morning. Spoiler alert: we're not perfect people and sometimes we fight! Hurting each other's feelings, being misunderstood, not communicating well, those are all parts of any relationship and especially true in marriage! For Stephen and I, sometimes this comes up more than we'd like to admit, because unlike most couples, we're together every minute of every day (almost)!
It's truly a blessing to work together! We spent a majority of our dating time a long way away from each other, so I'm grateful we share an office and run our business side by side! We see the world very differently, but this can be a good thing. Where I'm lacking in strengths, Stephen fills the gaps and where he is lacking I fill in those gaps. But sometimes this causes conflict, we've realized that most of our fights revolve around miscommunication or lack of communication due to these differences.
Since coming back from Panama, our communication has been rather poor! Not because we're trying to create conflict or that either of us are unhappy, but it's just happening. Something needed to give, we needed to hit pause!
I was upset because I needed help with something around the house and Stephen thought we had plenty of time to do that task before our guests arrived. His actions left me feeling uncared for and very upset. That disagreement struck a cord with both of us and it was about time we needed to sit down and talk it out. It was time to revisit some tools we learned in counseling and actually use them! We did pre-martial counseling while engaged and we highly recommend it to any couple getting married! There are personality type assessments and different tools a trained professional can help you with that will benefit your relationship and well-being so much.
Our counselor taught us about a powerful tool to communicate. If it's benefited our relationship so much to revisit it lately, so we figured we'd share it here with you! Surely it can help someone else, so here it goes, our tools we wished we implemented last week (and are implementing now).
When you are started to feel a conflict rising or need to communicate something, differentiation is key. In these moments, take a breath and then differentiate what you're thinking from what you're feeling, then tell the other person what you need. State these all out loud to each other. "I was thinking ____, I'm feeling____, I need____". When your turn is over the other person should repeat back to you what they heard. This is called active listening. After that, let them do their differentiation statements and then you actively listen to them. These are basic counseling tricks but they seriously help with communication so much. Next time you have a conflict, try this, it seriously works!
Active listening is three things. Paraphrasing what you've heard the person say, asking clarifying questions to be clear, and giving feedback. These steps can be repeated. This has been big for us this week while working through scenarios in our daily life. I feel at peace knowing I'm heard and my feelings are valid. Stephen can understand me in a way that's not threatening and knows how to love me best after we communicate. This has been a huge win for both of us!
Giving a partial message instead of the whole message can create confusion! I'm so bad at this. I think something in my head but only say part of the message or interrupt it mid-thought. This doesn't help Stephen out because he doesn't read minds!
We've also been listening to a video series on marriage with our small group and something struck me to the core the other night. It was so simple, but such good truth. The speaker said, "you cannot get what you need by depriving your partner of what they need"! I should never expect Stephen to fulfill all of my needs, only God can do that. I can't expect him to love me unconditionally if I'm not willing to love him back and be a team player in this whole marriage thing.
If anything, we've learned this week is that we both deeply care for one another, but because we have different strenghts, we sometimes get misunderstood. Marriage isn't about two people giving 50%, it's should be two people giving 100% to each other. We hope this is helpful for someone else out there. If anything, know that your not alone. That marriage is worth fighting for and we always thankful for the opportunity to grow and be vulnerable with you!
We hope this is helpful for someone else out there. If anything, know that you're not alone. Marriage is worth fighting for and we are always thankful for the opportunity to be vulnerable in order to grow together with you!