With almost 4 years of marriage under my belt, I can say with 100% certainty that I’m still trying to figure it out. So honestly, I’m pretty clueless. I wish I had discovered a magical way by now to make each day with my husband a dream, but I would definitely be lying if I said that was true. So, here is what I DO know. Marriage is something we need to balance everyday. It has challenged both my husband and I to be our best selves, and love each other, even on our bad days. Marriage is about remembering to communicate to your spouse. It sounds funny, but as life gets busy with work, children and just finding time for yourself, communicating often falls to the wayside. That’s because constructive communication takes a lot of work. And patience…a lot of patience. Learning to listen, think and process what your spouse is telling you is a major part of marriage. It requires you to put aside your perspective to consider another. And when emotions run high, that’s really difficult to do. But that’s marriage. Below I list the top 3 communication tools my husband and I use daily in our marriage.
#1 Verbalize your emotions
Putting emotions into words is a struggle for many people. Not just my husband. Many times we get caught up so much in the heat of our feelings, that our delivery of those emotions aren’t the greatest. It takes a lot of self-control to reel in those intense feelings when communicating with your spouse. It also requires you to be completely vulnerable with one another. And that’s intimidating. Verbalizing your emotions is about making clear statements of how you are feeling, and what is making you feel that way. For instance, my husband never leaves his shoes by the door when he comes home from work. He always takes them off in the dining room. It makes me nuts. I could say, “You are being so annoying, just put your shoes by the door!” But that’s not me telling him how I feel about his actions. If I wanted to verbalize my feelings, I could say, “You know, when you leave your shoes in the dining room, I really feel frustrated with you.” It may sound corny or basic, but it creates so much more clarity in the communication between my husband and I. This simple way of talking to each other is straightforward and honest. It allows your spouse to acknowledge your emotions without actually being bombarded by them. It provides them with a better understanding of your perspective, and helps them to realize how their actions are affecting others. This is a key skill to learn in a marriage. And if you can practice it early on, the faster you will come to truly know each other, and most importantly, yourself.
#2 Reflect upon your spouse’s actions
The greatest way to express your love to one another is not necessarily what you say, but what you do. It’s about showing that person you matter to them and that you always have them in mind. This is something my husband is very good at. His love language is through his actions. Cooking dinner, giving the kids a bath, and religiously making me a cup of tea at the end of a crazy day, whether I want one or not. Most men show their affection for their spouse in this way. But for many women, this manner of affection completely flies over their heads because they are waiting, with bated breath, to hear their husbands use words to show their love. And that’s where the miscommunication begins. Women often use language to show their emotions, while men tend to display their feelings through actions. That is why we truly have to reflect upon our
spouse’s actions towards us. We need to take the time to appreciate all those “little” things they do for us in a day. Because actually, they are a pretty big deal when life gets nutty. Most times, we expect our spouse to always be kind and generous to us. We don’t see that as actual love, but it is. We take it for granted, at least I know I do sometimes. Take the time to notice these actions. It’s so important in a marriage to not miss out on these moments of affection because that’s what really keeps the spark alive. It reminds you that as life gets more complicated, as the children get older, as jobs come and go, and as your relationship with your spouse grows and changes, there will always be this constant love between one another that can be shown and cherished.
#3 Listen to each other
Hearing the other person out. I mean, really listening, is a skill. There is so much going on in our heads at every moment, that sometimes it’s hard to be in the present. To actually listen to your spouse for what he or she is trying to tell you, is a challenge. We are constantly distracted by the endless To-Do lists we create for ourselves. We are always itching to prove our point or perspective. We are forever multitasking all these daily duties. And very quickly, we forget to listen to one other. It gets lost in the shuffle. I’m the first one to admit that I do this far too often. I get overwhelmed with the children, cleaning and tidying, running all the errands, that there is really little time to stop and listen. But we must make the time. It’s so important for your spouse to feel heard and acknowledged. To feel understood by the person who means the most to you, and who you love with all your heart is a irreplaceable feeling. It matters. They matter. So carve out at least 30 minutes a day to talk to your spouse. Simply listen to what they have to say. Leave the dishes, forget the laundry, and throw on a cartoon for the children (yes, I said it. TV. Use it for these times). Put your marriage first and make an effort to listen to one another. All the experiences, opinions, and feelings. All of it. Hear what the other is going through, and be in the moment with them. Remember, they need you. That’s why they married you. That’s why they love you.
My husband and I are still learning from each other. Still trying to get the hang of this marriage thing. And sometimes I see him doing something great that we have talked about incorporating into our lives. And other times, I catch myself saying something to my husband that he really appreciates hearing. These are growing moments in our marriage that make each us even more connected to one another. These are the times that make all those arguments and stressful times in marriage seem so meaningless. Because when the two of you finally discover something to make things work in your marriage, it reminds you of why you fell in love in the first place.