Relationships Are All You’ve Got
I screw up. Often as it turns out.
In this instance I’m referring to managing a healthy marriage. How do I manage to screw up? Well, nothing unforgiveable, but it is the little things that add up.
Bottling up feelings and not communicating effectively. I let things fester until I snap at the wrong time, and usually for a poor reason, out of proportion to the felt slight.
I can be defensive and am particularly good at passing blame.
This is a poor way to manage relationships and conflict.
Couples often argue about finances, sex, children, housework and a whole host of other reasons. The important thing is to not let these stressors blow up the relationship.
When I think about what is really important in life, it comes down to relationships. There is no question that relationships can be hard, but as someone close to me says “they are all you’ve got.”
I have to remind myself that despite how hurt I may feel, or frustrated, the marriage is a priority and I need to work at keeping it strong. It’s not easy, but necessary.
I want to be in a relationship where you telling me you love me is just a ceremonious validation of what you already show me.
― Steve Maraboli
There are a few things that have helped me avoid the knock-down drag-out fights – when I remind myself to use them:
Don’t let things fester. I know if I am feeling tense, frustrated or angry, that she is probably feeling the same thing. At least she may be picking up on my non-verbal clues. She may be doing the same thing, letting issues build up inside.
Understand the contribution I am making to the problem. It’s never a good thing to point fingers, not just because it causes defensiveness, but because relationships are a two-way street. If I’m angry, I’ve probably done something to contribute to it. Maybe I’m not making my needs clear, or I’m not communicating effectively.
Almost always when we do talk it out, I find I was only seeing a part of the picture, and that I need to make adjustments as well.
Use “I” statements. I exactly never do this, though I know its a good thing. Typically I just lash out willy-nilly, but it is good to remember this point. Instead of ‘I’m so tired of you _______ me all the time’ (fill in the blank), it is much better to say something like ‘I am feeling upset that you said that, can we talk about it.’ Okay, that’s probably a poor example, but I’m no expert in this!
Be intentional. What I mean here is that by being aware of what I’m feeling, I can be proactive and reach out to take a positive action instead. For example, if I’m stressed and distant, I can reassure her that I’m not mad at her, but am stressed about _______. That opens the lines of communication, avoids issues festering, and gives her the opportunity to speak up if she has picked up on my mood and was concerned about it. It can defuse a situation.
It is also important to have time dedicated to the relationship, such as going out on a date night. With work, raising kids, managing the house and yard, the relationship often gets put on the back burner, at least for me. If I’m not deliberate about re-connecting on a regular basis, the marriage suffers.
Talk it Out
For me, and maybe other guys, I can be uncomfortable talking about all the squishy stuff. I clinch my teeth an bare it. Especially when I’m angry, that’s the last time I want to have a conversation, but that’s when I need to the most.
Times are changing, and life has never been busier and more hectic. Women are working now to help support the family. I know that sounds strange in today’s day and age, but growing up as a child, it wasn’t as common. For many issues, men and women are trying to figure out this thing called life, making things up as we go along.
This is part of the reason why I’m blogging. It’s because it forces me to think things through, which things work, which things don’t. Hopefully it starts a conversation so that we can all learn from each other.
Finally, if necessary, get help. There’s nothing wrong about seeing a therapist to help work through the tough issues. We have plumbers, lawyers, teachers and a gazillion other jobs out there of people trained to do something specific. Therapists do too. We can’t always do everything on our own. Again, guys, don’ t let ego get in the way of success!
Do something nice for a loved one in your life today, and comment below on the tools you use in managing your relationships and conflict.