As a new bride I knew very little about men. I knew close to nothing about marriage and communication and how to resolve conflict. When Eric and I disagreed I took it personally. I felt rejected and unloved and in return I would cry, sulk, go silent, get angry, and do anything I could to try and get my way. This was all subconscious. I wasn't being manipulative and intentionally mean, but my immaturity hurt Eric and my marriage a lot.
I didn't come into marriage with the tools I needed to have healthy communication during conflict. I didn't know what it meant to fight fair and healthy. I didn't know what my husband needed from me or how to effectively communicate my own needs. It's taken a lot of trial and error, practice, therapy, discussions with friends and mentors and I can't even tell you how many marriage books I've read (the verdict is still out on how much they've actually helped) to help us grow in our communication. We haven't arrived and we're not perfect, but things are a lot different now.
One thing that I've learned is that no matter what I'm trying to say, what we're trying to discuss, or how sensitive the topic is my husband needs to feel respected.
I can't even tell you how many times Eric has told me that he wants to feel respected. I used to be, like, what? What does that even mean? Although we may never fully understand our husbands' thoughts (or lack thereof, I still don't get how a man can literally be thinking "nothing") I think we can learn to show them a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Here's a few things that have helped me when communicating with my husband:
Watch your words. I think I came into marriage with the assumption that men are tough and they don't get easily hurt. I'm sensitive because I'm a woman, but (I thought) Eric's not. I could say mean things and it would slide right off of him and he would know that I was speaking out of emotions. Well, he can and does get hurt and I've learned it's important for me be deliberate and gentle with my words.
Also, watch your tone, inflection, facial expressions, and body posture. Now that I'm a mother to a daughter, after three sons, I see first hand that girls are sassy. As a woman, I'm still be sassy. My sassiness, in conflict can be interpreted as disrespect when it comes out in eye rolls, hand on the hip, fingers pointed, sighs, etc. You may not even notice yourself doing it, but pay attention to your body language in conversation.
Make him feel like your hero. They may not ever say it out loud, but our husbands want to know that we think they're brave and strong and we appreciate them protecting, providing for, and taking care of us.
Don't be led by emotions. Emotions aren't a bad thing. I feel things deeply and compassion and empathy come naturally for me. Those are good things, but I've also found myself say or do things out of hurt or anger and regret it later. I want to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I've looked back on too many conversations and am embarrassed by what I've said (and not just with my husband), I want my words to be intentional to build those around me up.
Remember, your husband is your husband, not your girlfriend. I've been disappointed many times when Eric didn't want to recount an event over and over, that we've had lulls in our conversation, or that our communication didn't look or feel like my girlfriends and I. Our husband's are guys and we have to allow them to act like it (and appreciate and love them for it)!
Today is our last official week of the marriage series. I have so appreciated doing this with Gina and Courtney, two beautiful, amazing, and godly women. I hope you've enjoyed reading our posts and, for all of you who have linked up, thank you so much!
I'm passionate about marriage and I want to continue to post on the topic (although, the posts won't be weekly). I'd love to know, is there anything else you'd like me to write about? Or, to go more in depth on a topic we've already discussed?
Have a lovely day, my friends, and don't forget to check out both Courtney and Gina's posts!
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