“It’s all about communication.” Any time I have asked for marriage advice, those are usually the first words I hear. People say that as long as I communicate with my husband, then things will go more smoothly and we can enjoy a deeper relationship.
To be honest, when I first heard these words, I was somewhat confused. I mean, how can a person not communicate in a relationship? Why on earth would a person not communicate to the person most dear to him or her? And then I got married.
I had no idea that I had problems communicating until about five months into our marriage. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to Zach (let’s be real… I talk all the time), but that I wasn’t sharing things that needed to be shared.
Still now, I share about my day, my stresses, and about classwork—but I don’t share about the important things. Being who I am, I have a ton of emotions, emotions that are hard for me to explain. Yet, instead of expressing those emotions, I reach a point where I just stop sharing them with others, including Zach.
Unfortunately, bottling up emotions is not good for anyone, especially me. I get angry because of little things that don’t matter. Then, I expect Zach to understand why I am upset and, when he doesn’t, it makes me even angrier. I shut down and let my emotions pull me into self-pity, when all I have to do is share them with Zach.
Therefore, with New Year’s resolutions in mind, I have decided to make one of my goals to be specifically about marriage: to share.
I will share what I am feeling and why. Even if the reason seems stupid or small, it is important for me to share my emotions. I will also share my past experiences and why they cause me to act the way I do at times. Because of my past, I am very sensitive about particular behaviors, and it is not fair to expect Zach to understand this without telling him. So for both of our sakes, I am learning to communicate my feelings more clearly and more quickly—living out the adage, “It’s all about communication.”
1. I will actually answer when asked, “What’s wrong?”
Instead of replying like a rational human, I say this really ridiculous thing: “Nothing.” This only makes matters worse because it drags out the issue and amplifies it into a disproportionate mess. It is also such a rude behavior. Zach cares enough to want to know what is upsetting me, so instead of making him beg for information, I will freely give it.
2. I will not let myself fester in bitterness.
Too often, I just sulk in my emotions. Similar to the first resolution, if I would just let my husband know what is going on inside of me, there would be fewer grudges, hurt feelings, and pity parties. By not allowing myself to indulge in negative emotions, I can focus on solving the problem and move on to better things.
3. I will not use aggressive language.
The quote, “Anger is the mask for sadness,” absolutely must be about me. When I am wounded or hurt, I get angry and tend to use sharp phrases or words: “Well, if that is what YOU want, then we will do it,” “YOU made me do that,” or “What could you POSSIBLY be thinking?!”
Putting emphasis on words such as “you” or “possibly” is aggressive and hurtful instead of open and reasonable. Even when upset, I need to keep my words soft and graceful, not accusing or condescending.
4. We will use The Claw.
This sounds so weird. Honestly, I have to give my hairdresser credit for this idea. Here’s how it works: Every time I am feeling defensive or I am upset by or in an argument with my husband, I should hold his hand.
As weird and silly as it sounds, this totally works. Sometimes when I say, “It’s nothing,” Zach will take my hand—and it helps lighten the tension. So from now on, I will be implementing “the claw” whenever I feel upset and am not communicating. How can you argue with someone who is holding your hand? Answer: Ya can’t.