I have several single friends that look at my life and tell me they want what I have. They want the man, the love, the laughter. I always tell them the same thing – this is after eighteen years of work. We haven’t always had the comfortable relationship we have today. We didn’t come home from the honeymoon to this kind of life. It took a lot of long, hard work and a lot of lessons learned during difficult fighting to get to this state of marriage. Here are some of the early lessons I learned as a wife. I hope some of them will ring true for you as well.
1. I don’t have to be right.
A marriage by one definition is a combination or mixture of two elements . I’m one element. He’s a completely different individual element. Two completely different people raised in two completely different households with two completely different families are trying to be one. We’re not always going to have the same opinion. We’re not always going to see eye to eye. Ever been there??
Here’s the truth bomb I have to tell myself – “You don’t always have to be right!”. Don’t argue because you think you’re right! It seems so simple and yet is soooo incredibly hard. If I’m right and you’re disagreeing with me, that makes you wrong, right (um, I mean correct)? Furthermore, if I’m right, it’s my job, my DUTY to teach you the right way in replacement of your wrong. Ok, you wouldn’t say it like that, but you KNOW that’s how you feel. Let go of the trivial notion that one is right and the other wrong. In fact, if you let go of the urge to be right, you completely open up SO many other possibilities. You open up to the idea of letting your husband actually lead you in a decision (whyyyy is this so hard – and so frowned upon by society?! Yeah, that’s a whole different conversation), you open up to the practice of listening. This evolves into actually understanding his opinion, and you open up your mind to other solutions that are outside your vision otherwise.
2. Don’t interrupt.
My mother taught me this when I was little. I teach it to my children. You’ll teach it to your children. Why? Because interrupting is rude. Don’t be rude. Let him finish. I have had to learn to put a lot of effort into absorbing the words that are actually coming out of his mouth..especially when I’m really frustrated! How DARE he say that? That is NOT true. I’ll say it again – let him finish. Be intentional in listening to him and understanding what he’s saying, feeling, and trying to get across. You want him to extend the same courtesy to you. If you want to take it even a step further, reiterate what he said in your own words to make sure you understand correctly. This way he KNOWS you were truly listening and respect his right to talk uninterrupted and what he has to say. It also reduces the risk of misunderstanding. How helpful is that?!
3. Stay in control.
You might not need to be told this, but it’s one I learned early on in our relationship. Don’t throw things. Getting so upset that you throw something, big or small, in any direction, is a sign of lack of self-control. Tone control is another sign of maturity in self-control. Another related basic, don’t “smack” him. That’s hitting. You’d get put in time-out if you were five. Be a big girl 😉 When you feel you are close to losing control (of the object, your volume, or your hands…hey, we have ALL been there!), you need to be honest with your man and ask for a break. Don’t leave home but separate to opposite ends of the house until you can regain self-control and keep your hands and volume in check.
Ephesians 4:26 in the NIV says “In your anger do not sin…” or in the ESV “Be angry and do not sin…”. You’re going to get angry at times and that’s ok. That’s human. That’s inevitable. The point is to stay in control of your anger and don’t let the enemy use it to lead you into sin.
4. Use “I “ sentences.
This is a fantastic rule we learned in counseling during our early years of marriage. Instead of “You always leave dirty laundry on the floor!”, say “I feel like I’m constantly picking up dirty laundry. How do we solve this?!” Well, duh, I can solve it – PICK UP YOUR DIRTY CLOTHES!! I might be thinking that in my head but I just have to remind myself this is the man I dreamed of being with one day and now that I’m with him, I want him to feel respected. Keeping sentences focused on “I” keep the accusatory tone of “You” down to a minimum. This rule leads into our last one…
5. Don’t blame him.
Yes, he may have screwed up. He may have been a jerk, lost his temper, or forgotten something really important. Let’s be honest, though, has assigning blame ever reeeeally help anything?? It’s possible to come up with a solution and resolve a fight without making sure he knows he’s to blame. I am not his mother. It’s not my job to blame, chastise, and correct him. If I feel wronged by him, then I need to communicate my feelings, not his crime. On the flip-side of this, sometimes you will be in the wrong and you definitely don’t want him wagging his finger at you, right? Try to remember that your man is generally a good willed person. Know that he’s not seeking to destroy you.
Fighting with your mister is hard!!! I don’t know about you, but I’m a crier. Especially in the beginning of my marriage, a fight with my man would cause my whole world to come crashing down! Practicing these basic (but not always easy – I STILL struggle with interrupting!) rules in fighting definitely help us communicate better, open up our perspectives, and work through our issues without inflicting deep emotional wounds. Sometimes it feels like you’re enemies on two different sides of an argument but you’re a team!! This is a team with the same end goals in mind. Love, growth, and a lifetime together!!!
What are the unspoken “rules” you follow when getting into a tiff with your mister? Do you practice some of ours already? Struggle with one in particular? I’d love to learn with and from you. Drop a comment below.
Peace & love friend!
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