"Defense" & "offense", some terms we may be hearing a lot through out the next 2 weeks with all of the Olympic games going on. Well, these terms are also VERY important in determining the success or failure in a marriage.
Now, I will be the 1st to admit that throwing up a defensive wall is my 1st instinct when my husband brings up a concern he might have about the way I am doing something or something I might have said-Its hard not to. But I think in a marriage we have to be open to the fact that we are not perfect, we need to always be making steps towards improvement & growth, & marriage takes 2 people working toetgher to make it function successfully. From time to time we are going to be forced to stop to examine ourselves & change somethings that we may not necessarily find wrong or irritating, but our partner might. I am not saying we need to completely change who we are to fit in our partner's box, after all they did fall in love with us this way, but some minor adjustments are going to be necessary for BOTH parties involved from time to time.
For example, I tried to surprise my husband with a sandwich early in marriage when he had been out in the yard working very hard all morning. I got out the bread, light miracle whip, mustard, meat, cheese, & put it all together to bring out to him. I gave him the sandwich & he smiled & said, "thank you". I then saw the happy look on his face change for a quick second as he looked down at the sandwich, but he said nothing. "What's wrong?", I had to ask. "Nothing", he replied. I had to know & tried a few more times to get it out of him. "Well, the bread is not lined up". Yes, I typed that correctly. I did not put the 2 slices facing the same direction on his sandwich. Now, I guarantee you that sandwich will taste exactly the same no matter what direction the bread is facing & the very first thought that had crossed my mind was, "Well, make your own sandwiches then!?!". BUT I had to stop myself. My husband is entitled to have a preference on the direction he likes his bread just like I am entitled to absolutely hating if the tube of toothpaste is left in the shower when I go to find it for brushing my teeth. There is nothing wrong with that. We can't get offended every time our significant other brings something up, we need to hear them out & see if a compromise can be reached. After all, we want them to also hear us out & value our opinions when we bring up a concern to them, right?
I think both parties need to also be very careful in the way in which they bring up a "critic", presentation & timing can definitely play a large factor in things being able to be discussed like 2 mature adults or elevating into a knock out drag down fight-lol. Pointing fingers & carrying a negative tone are pretty much guaranteed to send your partners defenses up immediately, "You never..." or "I just hate it when...". Choose your words very carefully & try not to push their buttons & hit those tender spots just to try & get your point across. Also, trying to have a serious talk with your husband in the middle of a game or discussion something with your wife while she has spit-up on 1 shoulder & a dirty diaper in hand are also probably not the best ideas.
In marriage you have to have respect for each other & be willing to communicate openly. If your partner knows you are immediately going to shoot them down, get defensive, & not fully hear them out or consider what they are saying then they are going to tend to just stuff things down & hold them in until 1 day things just blow up. Its so much better when we can provide a "safe place" where both people know they do not have to be afraid to be open or keep it real. We have to be willing to face the facts that we might not always be right about everything-teachable & willing to change. Its definitely more easily said than done I will admit, but we need to be willing to try :).