Communication is something we have been doing all our lives. We communicate with our words, our actions, our face, our body language. You would think that by our 20s, we are pros at this. Not quite yet. I imagine we will never fully have our communication under control until we have reached perfection in heaven.
Mr. M and I spent the first two years of our relationship with intention. While we were dating, we decided to have the hard conversations that most newlyweds wait until after the engagement or the wedding day to have. Working through the hard conversations beforehand allowed us to spend our first year of marriage available to grow and mature in ways that would not have been possible if we decided to wait until the “I Do’s” to start having the hard conversations .The hard conversations gave us a foundation in communication. And although we’ve been together for 3 1/2 years, we’re still finding out more about how we give and receive in our communication styles.
Check Out: Engagement Shoot Ideas For People Of Color
Communication & Expectations
Older men and women, along with every marriage help book will tell you the biggest key to a strong marriage is COMMUNICATION. And beyond communication, it is communicating your EXPECTATIONS. We all have different expectations when it comes to housework, finances, parenting, sex. You name it, you have an expectation for it.
In my ignorance and bliss, I thought, “I won’t need to communicate ALL my expectations. Especially when it comes to the dishes.” I thought that if he saw the dishes, he would do them. If I had been working all day and he was at home, he would do the dishes. However, I quickly learned that he didn’t always see the sink full of dishes. But I did. He didn’t always register when it was time to dust the living room. But I did.
And the more I noticed all these things by myself, the more resentment built up inside of me. And when the resentment thermometer hit the top, I blew off the top. I exploded. I said things I didn’t mean. I loaded the dishwasher in frustration. I stomped around the house, making sure he knew that I was cleaning.
But that didn’t communicate to him that I needed help. That communicated to him that I was angry.
I wish I said this only happened once. But it happened again. And again. And again.
My anger didn’t open the door to a safe space to have the kind conversation: “I’m really stressed out at work; can you help me at home with some of the chores?” Instead, it escalated the problem. There was an evening where neither of us were talking to each other and when Mr. M saw me furiously cleaning, he knew that it was best to duck down and furiously clean as well. By the end of the night, the house was clean but our hearts were hurting.
Check out: Our Favorite Wedding Ring Here
Each of us have power with our words to ignite or diffuse any situation. Marriage is teaching me that not every thing that pops into my mind needs to be said.
There are times when what I have to say is OK. It’s my tone, though, that has conveyed more than my message. It’s conveyed my attitude and my opinion of my husband in that moment.
We all know that our attitudes and opinions don’t exactly match up with the truth in our hearts 100% of the time.
When I speak in a tone that oozes utter disgust at my husband, I’m denying the truth that this is my man, and he makes me the most joyful woman in the world most days. Instead, my tone tells him that I hate who he is in that moment.
Have I ever truly hated my husband? No. So why does my tone say so?
So often I hide my pain behind my hateful tone as a defense mechanism. But when I have my armor up, he can’t get in and we can’t build our marriage. Rather, we are in a stalemate.
On the other hand, if I were to speak with my husband in a loving tone, even when I am highly irritated or hurt about a situation, I allow him to see into my heart. Being kind in my tone – even when I’m hurting – opens the door to a more productive conversation.
The moments where I have been honest and vulnerable have been the sweetest moments in our marriage. The fighting is hard, but the make up is so so good.
Thankfully, marriage is forever. Which means we have years to practice. Years to forgive, and years to grow.
What has been your biggest challenge in marriage?
Christina (or Nina to her dearest friends) is a lifestyle blogger at Hugs & Lattes. When she isn’t blogging, she’s cooking a new recipe, cuddling up with her husband and Netflix, and reading her book club’s latest novel. You can find her on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.