A few weeks ago I was upset about something. I can't remember what, but I was frustrated with Eric, saying something to him, and he just reached over and held my hand. It took me by surprise and I started laughing and it diffused whatever was going on between us. It was a beautiful moment, one I hope I remember. Small gestures of love really aren't small.
If only every conflict was so easy and, by no means, has it been for us. In our pre-marriage counseling we learned about conflict resolution. Our therapist had a lot of great advice, advice that most of us have already heard- don't interrupt, don't use words like "never" or "always," say how you're feeling instead of accusing, you know that stuff, but so oftentimes conflict in marriage is so much more complicated than that. I wish that if I just stopped saying "never" and "always" we'd never have difficulty in our communication or relationship again.
Maybe this is just me, but I think the biggest lesson for me is that most of the time the conflict isn't about Eric and I, but about me. I know it may sound silly, because you can't really have conflict without two people, but there's always something in it that's just for me. As a Christian, I believe that marriage isn't to make me happy or to fulfill my needs or to give me a partner in life. Those things are all good and true, but I truly believe that marriage is ultimately to strengthen me, as an individual, and to draw me closer to God.
I don't think I'm alone in this, but I don't like to be the first one to apologize. After Eric's already said he's sorry to me, then it's really easy for me to say it and admit that I was wrong. To do it first is incredibly vulnerable and uncomfortable. I'm putting myself in the position for him to accept my "wrongness", but not admit his own. If I was apologizing for Eric's sake, then I probably would never say it first. But, I'm not. I'm saying I'm sorry for me. I'm humbling myself, I'm admitting I'm wrong, and I'm growing from it despite what Eric does.
Despite what my husband does. My attitude towards him, how much love I show him, how much I serve him shouldn't be dependent on what he does for me or how he serves. I do these things as an act of worship to God.
Ultimately, I believe that conflict resolution, just like everything else in my life is about me. For me, everything is about me. I forgive the people that have hurt me because I don't want to be a bitter, angry person. I show love and compassion to people that don't deserve it because I want to be a loving and compassionate person. I humble myself before my husband, I confess when I am wrong, and I ask for forgiveness, no matter what Eric does, because I want to be a humble person who grows despite my mistakes. I try to speak kindly, with love and gentleness, because that's the person I want to be no matter who or what someone else is.
So, tell me friends, does is your attitude and personality dependent on the person/people you're around? I'm working hard on being the person that I am, all the time, despite who I'm around or what other people may be doing or saying. (And, I mean this is general terms, no necessarily just in marriage. I'm not sure why this side of "conflict resolution" came out while I was typing...but, it did. I guess it's on my mind and heart.) Are you successful at this? Have you ever even thought about this?