Monday, July 8, 2013

Ya Don't Say?!-Communication in Marriage

If you are married, then you know how vital good communication is in your relationship. In fact, it is essential to any healthy relationship. Once you have kids, you become all the more aware of its importance.

It's so easy to get caught up with the day to day routine of raising the kiddos. Let's face it, sometimes it can be a lil' "consuming". BUT we can never let that part of our lives become so consuming that our marriages begin to suffer for it. We have to make a conscious effort every day to check-in with our partner & the relationship. You will ultimately be a better parent for it!

I think the way we often set ourselves up for failure and/or an argument is commonly either our poor timing or our approach to our partner. First of all, timing is an important key. It's all good that you have an issue that needs to be resolved, but bringing it up in the middle of your partner trying to make dinner or while they are busy trying to get the kids ready for school or when they are running late for work are probably not the best times. But of course, there can be exceptions where something simply cannot wait. Ideally, though, if you do have the time, choose the time & place carefully. This is undoubtedly the more favorable option because at the very least, emotions are under better control, you both have had time to think, and there will be less distractions. This is probably the area I have been working at the hardest. With me having 4 kids constantly busy "running around", if I can even find 2 minutes alone, I will try to squeeze in EVERYTHING & this can overwhelm my husband. Fortunately, he communicated with me that if I could choose my timing a lil' more carefully, we would probably be more productive in resolving things, finding solutions, and trouble shooting. I received this & have become more conscientious about using "better timing" & I have seen a tremendous difference!

Our tone & body language are also HUGE when it comes to communication. If you start the conversation off with a raised tone then it would be unreasonable to expect your partner not to get defensive & come back in the same manner. Not to mention, when someone feels attacked or disrespected, they don't usually "hear" you. When your partner starts to bring up a concern and you respond by crossing your arms and/or rolling your eyes or refusing to make eye contact or by walking away without a word, you are sending them a message of "I don't care!" (whether you are intending to or not). If you choose to respond in these less constructive (even destructive manners), how can you expect them to be respectful and receptive to you when you have an issue with them that needs to be resolved?

Effective communication takes a lot of practice, effort, and a lot of heart! In marriage, we have to choose to respect each other & learn to communicate in the most productive ways ON PURPOSE. Continuing to bring up issues from the past that were thought to be already resolved is always counterproductive. We also need to learn to accept genuine apologies from our partner if we expect for them to do the same for us. We must choose to start fresh every day and to let go of the past hurts, mistakes, disagreements, etc.

If there is something your partner says or does that hurts you, even if it is a minor thing, instead of expecting your partner to already know you are hurting or you deciding to just accept the hurt - speak up! We are adults & deserve to be treated as such. We have to stop pushing each others buttons to intentionally get back at one another, purposefully "stirring the pot". We may not always agree or understand the way our partner feels or see things, but it is important to "hear them out" & try to see where they are coming from - always respecting our partner's perspective and/or right to think and feel differently than we do.

In communicating with our partners, at times, it may seem much easier to point out the flaws, mistakes, and/or shortcoming we see, BUT we need to make sure we are taking the time to encourage and build them up at all times! Let your partner know what you see that they are doing right. Why would someone be motivated to change if they know you are not going to see it? Or if they feel you are just going to look for something else to "nag" them about? Men especially crave this honor. Build them up! Give them honor where honor is due! If you see them making a sincere effort, point it out. Make a big deal about it! Of course you want to be genuine, but if you really start making an effort to look closely, you usually will see that there is a lot more good to focus on than bad. Also, bonus - the next time you need to bring up something that is bothering you, your partner is much more likely to be receptive to your words due to the fact that now negativity is not the only thing they tend to hear from you.

It is also important to note that our partners cannot read minds (even though us women often think otherwise -lol). For instance, if your partner is not giving you something in the relationship that you need, just let them know. For me, words from my husband & even just a gentle touch in the middle of a busy day speak volumes to me - it metaphorically, "fills my love cup". I have to make a point to let him know on a continual basis that these seemingly "little things" mean a lot to me & I praise/thank him when he puts in that extra effort - "Thanks, Honey. Earlier today when you gave me a hug out of the blue, it meant a lot to me".

Communication about the raising up of the children is also extremely important. Making sure that mom & dad are "on the same page" is monumental when it comes to presenting that strong united front to your kids. Behind the scenes there may be times where kinks need to get worked out, but it is vital to your children's success that they never think they have the power to "play" mom & dad against each other. Oh, they will try, but if mom & dad have that open line of communication with each other, the child's efforts will not succeed. Parenting is not about being the "good guy" or winning a child's favoritism. Its all about loving them & doing what is best for them - jointly making the decisions that will best benefit them in the long run.

Because of my husband's line of work, we definitely strive to make that extra effort to let him in on the things that he may have missed the days he was away. I let him know if one of the children is going through a new challenging stage so we can discuss how we are going to handle it. This way no matter if it is mom or it is dad the child is dealing with, we both are using the same strategy to help "push through" the stage, i.e., there will be unwavering consistency. Also, if a child has accomplished something new, we talk about it so that we can both can have the opportunity to lift the child up & praise them for their accomplishment, such as, learning a new move in dance class, potty training, tying a shoe, or whatever. Doing this just helps to make parenting so much easier for both parents &  the children benefit as well. Harmony in the home!

Side note - kids will see you disagree from time to time, of course. No one is perfect & it is inevitably going to happen from time to time, but we need to use those opportunities to show our kids that conflict happens and that it can be resolved amicably. Your kids can see first hand that mom & dad can communicate respectfully & find resolution in a productive manner. BUT if it is an issue that may be more intense and emotionally fueled, then of course, you might decide to put it "on the back burner", choosing to deal with it at another time. When parents fight, it can be just as stressful (if not more) on their children. Don't be fooled, they hear & see a lot more than they let on. The way they hear you choose to communicate with your mate is something they are going to pick up & it may likely go on to effect the way they deal with conflict as they communicate within their own relationships in the future (whether it is how they communicate with their own mate or how they let their mate communicate with them). This is just something all mommies & daddies should keep in mind. As parents, we are our kids first role models! They are constantly "taking note" and internalizing.

Perfect communication in a marriage may never be reached, but it doesn't mean we should stop striving for it. Effective, efficient, choice communication is a huge asset to marriages & requires constant work & attention, but WELL worth it in the end.

-M&M Momma

Abuse, verbal or physical, is never acceptable or the answer!

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How do you break it to these lil' faces,
prob not the best accessory for 116 degrees outside, lol.

Patriotic nails

Getting some celebrating in early with daddy.
Making "rocket dogs"!

Grill Master!

Patriotic kebab time!

Sneaking in some bites

Most of her food made it to her
lil' mouth first!

They loved them!

"Corny" smile!

Pie time!

Movie night of the month.
Going to the classics, "Mary Poppins"

Hanging our new flag

Feeding Adley breakfast, lol

Finishing up the nails

Making them dry fast with ice water,
hilarious to watch

Sissy love!

One of her many passions,
strategically lining things up!

My puzzle enthusiast

Doing some schoolwork 



Just like daddy!

Our hero!!!

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