Marriage is a journey. The two of you are now learning how to creep; then walk and run. As the journey unfolds, it is critical to remember that both of you will have some unlearning to do. Your background and upbringing plus his background and upbringing equals two sets of values, “know-hows” and “my ways” that can raise their heads and mash some toes. I’m not saying that everything you’ve ever known to be the right way now becomes the wrong way, but some ways may need tweaking.
I’ve been raised by a company of strong women and a gentle lion of a man. By gentle lion I mean that my dad is a man of few words but he fiercely protects his flock and when he speaks you pay attention. I know what it means to have a point and make it known and what it means to have battle backs. “Defending my point” has never been an issue for me, and as a word smith my mouth is swift to respond to questions, queries and comments.
Now my husband is a remarkable man, he loves me well and protects me fiercely as well; does this sound familiar?But when we’ve faced disagreements my swift mouth has gotten me into trouble – numerous times. What I realized is that our upbringing and conflict resolution styles vary drastically . His “know-how” and “way” differs so much from mine but what we’ve learned is how to fight together because the issue is the issue not each other. Here are 3 tips that have helped me significantly handle habits in our marriage.
Tip #1 – Have The Right Perspective
Chris is in my corner, your partner is in your corner. Adopting the right perspective helps me to combat the negative thought that Chris is picking a fight with me. We learned quite early that regardless of how things look, the issue is always the issue so we must work to address the issue and not attack each other. Sometimes we aren’t on the same page but we try to see that as an opportunity to hash out discrepancies rather than lash out at each other. Does it always work? No. But we have definitely made great progress and our resolution skills are a lot better.
You two may not always come to a joint conclusion simultaneously, either of you may yield to respecting your partner’s position and understanding where they are at, even if you don’t agree with it. If there is a disagreement it doesn’t mean that the you are loved less, it simply means there’s a component that has broken the dynamic of your flow together, find the component and attend to it. When you take time to unpack the root cause of the problem it’ll help the process run a bit smoother.
Tip #2 – Exhibit Patience
The same way I’ve been taught to brush my teeth before bed and I’m able to consistently do this to the point where I don’t have to think about it, is the same way that I’ve formed other habits. When you enter into a union, you aren’t two perfect people joining to form one perfect marriage. You are two imperfect humans, embedded with 10 – 20+ years of habits and behaviors. You now have to unlearn some things and learn new material, that is your partner. Habits influence behaviors. Speak up about what rubs you the wrong way but also allow time for each other to work out the kinks. And girl you will need grace and patience given to you too because none of us are perfect. Don’t forget, the two of you are now figuring out your rhythm.
“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Tip #3 – Cover & Praise Each Other
Don’t create a scene in public, if you remember nothing else from this post, please remember that. ALWAYS cover each other! One of the things our mentor and marriage counselor always told us was to be aware of our surroundings. Everyone doesn’t need to be in your business and you definitely shouldn’t hang out each other’s laundry for the world to see. Cover him ma’am, sir cover her! Cover , cover, cover! In prayer and in public.
When there are major improvements even in small areas, praise each other. Praise encourages presence. Psychologists say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Multiply 21 days by the amount of years you’ve been alive and all the habits you’ve developed. That’s 21 consecutive days but we live in a real world where on day 2 or 3 we may rescind to the old way of doing things. If you see them coming around, let them know they’re doing a good job. In our context that looks like verbal affirmation (something I’m still working on) since I usually write but I do my best to keep at it. Do what it takes to resolve as thoroughly as possible and keep pushing the lid of limitation off of your relationship and marriage.
Communicate clearly, respectfully and honestly. And try at all times to let your partner into where you’re at and what you’re feeling. Chris always tells me..”Babe, I can’t read your mind.” Neither can I read his,
Best wishes in your journey