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I knew when I said “yes!” (although I don’t even remember if I actually answered the question or not when he asked me) that the journey wouldn’t always be easy. I knew that with two flawed, sinful human beings coming together under one roof there would be fights, conflict, disagreements, and things of that nature. What I did not understand is the weight that would be behind every single word my husband would say to me, as well as the words I would say to him. As my husband, he knows everything there is to know about me, he has seen me at both my worst and my best, he of all people should know the very best things about me, but also the very worst. What words my husband and I use when approached with conflict and disagreement can change how we view our marriage as well as ourselves. Our words hold so much weight and power because we choose one another through it all. We know one another in a way no one else on this earth could ever know the other.
In our a little over 8 month journey of being newlyweds, adjusting to living together and not being long distance anymore, going through transitions of our own, and just life in general, we have had our fair share of fights. We’ve had the silly arguments that end in us both laughing at how stupid it was to argue about in the first place. We’ve had the miscommunication fights where nothing seems to make sense to the other person. We’ve had the fights where I’ve trapped myself in the bathroom and waited for him to come find me. We’ve gone to bed angry a time of two. We are learning. We are growing. We are being stretched in ways we never imagined, especially when it comes to communication.
Brad and I communicate in totally different ways. I am an external processor, which means I process out loud. Brad is the type that processes every single outcome and option in a matter of seconds in his head, states his thoughts, and then moves on. So, it’s be a challenge to say the least learning how to communicate. Now, with any marriage conflict will arise, it’s just a matter of when. It’s also a matter of how you handle it. There is a way to argue in a healthy manner. There is a way to navigate disagreements without leaving the other person feeling defeated and like you aren’t on the same team. One of those ways to change how you fight with your spouse is to eliminate these 3 words:
1 // “Always” & “Never”
Using the words “always” and “never” puts absolutes where they were never supposed to belong. When we feel hurt we tend to over-exaggerate, especially when it comes to our words. Using the words “always” and “never” can also come from a place of defense, where we elevate ourselves. For example: “I always do everything for you and you never do anything for me.” This comes from a place of feeling inadequate of worthless and so we elevate ourselves to feel better about ourselves. We use these words to dump our negative feelings onto our partner. These words are also extremely vague and I think that is the biggest problem. We aren’t accurately explaining how we’re really feeling because we are just using these all of nothing words to try and communicate the weight behind our feelings without ever actually explaining what we mean or what we need from our spouse. If you find yourself using these words often, take a step back and start really evaluating what you are actually feeling and why you feel the need to use these all or nothing words to communicate. Use “I” focused statements and less blaming and shaming your spouse to communicate what you are truly feeling and what you need/want from your spouse.
2 // “You’re too”
When we speak to our spouses we need to always keep in mind that they are different than we are and if we’re being honest, that’s probably why we were drawn to them. We wouldn’t want to be married to someone just like us. When it comes to living and doing life with someone it can be hard to understand them at times. It can be difficult to understand why they do things certain ways, why they process things like that, etc. This is especially true when you look at how men and women process things differently in general, then add in all the others things that are different about that person on top of that. It get hard to navigate at times. We have to remember that God created them this way for a purpose. There is a reason he is more logical and I’m more sensitive. God knows what He’s doing and we were made this way and matched together for a purpose. He is strong where I am weak and vise versa. It’s really easy to use statements like “you’re too sensitive” or “you’re to much” or “you’re too needy” when in a disagreement. We must take a step back and realize that there is no such thing as being too much of something that isn’t a bad quality in the first place. You can be too aggressive, because that has no benefit to anyone. (I still wouldn’t say that in an argument, especially if that person is aggressive. i would seek help ASAP if that is your situation.) A person can’t be too needy of their spouse, because when you get married two become one. You do need one another and you should rely on one another. A person can’t be too sensitive, because regardless of if you agree with their emotions or not, they are what they’re feeling at the time and they are valid. I suggest before using these statements, try figuring out why they are feeling whatever you are viewing as being too much and how you can alleviate some of that extreme feeling. What can you do to make them feel like their feelings are valid, that they are needed and wanted, etc.
3 // Comparison words.
I don’t have any specific word to put here, but I’m sure you are thinking of some in your head. A few examples that come to my mind are “Suzy’s husband does this”, “I wish you were more like so-and-so”, “Did you see what he did for her?”, you get the point. The worst thing you could do for your spouse, whom you know better than anyone else, is make them feel like they don’t measure up. Comparison is the thief of joy and that is still true in your marriage. When we begin to compare, even when it’s not out loud, we start enjoying less of our own lives. We begin to find fault in places we were never meant to find fault in. We began to question things that should never be brought into question. Comparison is a big factor that causes divorce and that is something I want no part of in my marriage. Instead of comparing, start using the phrase “we should work on being better at this” or trying to understand why your spouse doesn’t do those things, because I promise it’s not because they don’t care about you. Your spouse always has your best interest in mind and knowing and believing that will eliminate a lot of unnecessary conflict.
Overall, just remember that you are your spouse are on the same team. Whatever you are speaking over them, to them, or about them you are saying about yourself. Marriage is by no means an easy thing, but it is so rewarding and worth it if you allow it to be. I know for myself, I have had to take a couple steps back a time or two and look at myself as the problem instead of him. I’ve taken the blame, I’ve been the problem, I’ve done things wrong, I’ve had a bad attitude. I’m not saying I’m not guilty or that I have this all figured out. I’m learning every single day and striving to be the best wife I can be because Brad deserves it. I challenge you to think of one thing you can do today to make it easier on your spouse. Do that one thing and do it with the most sincere heart. Your spouse is your teammate, remember that next time you have a disagreement.
If you’re looking to strengthen your marriage and beat the 50% divorce statistic, you need to order Navigator’s Council. It’s currently on sale for $19.99 and totally worth the purchase. It’s a weekly journal you will fill out with your spouse answering about 6 questions each week. It also includes a short devotional and a calendar to help foster good conversations throughout the week. You only need to purchase one copy for you and your spouse. Brad and I have ordered ours and are SO stinkin’ excited to start up and invest in our marriage!