Life as a newlywed is fun, freeing, and exciting; however, it is also coupled with substantial challenges, frustration, and confusion. My husband and I chose not to live together before marriage, which means, after three years of dating, we are discovering new aspects of one another on [what feels like] an hourly basis.
This is not a coded cry for help or to claim that I figured out this life-long commitment in a matter of months. It is a reminder for myself [and those reading] to be patient, loving, and intentional communicators as consistently as possible.
Here are a few tips we’ve gathered to quickly extinguish/avoid unnecessary conflict fires [especially when we’re just being hangry]:
ALIGN COMMUNICATION STYLES
Simply put, we all have our own styles for communicating. For example, my father’s mother, a former history teacher, is a passionate storyteller who will gladly paint a masterpiece for you with her words. Her stories are typically a commitment of fifteen or more minutes each, which is valuable to know before asking her to repeat herself. My mother’s mother, a former accountant, is more likely to tell you what she thinks immediately, without feeling the need to fill in every accompanying detail before getting to her point. I tend to be a mix of the two styles depending on my mood, and my husband has his own varying combinations.
Your goal is to match the same energy and style of your loved one when diving into an important conversation. If he’s getting straight to the point, it’s probably best to tactfully get straight to the point with what you have to say. If he’s cracking into his adjective bank to tell you something, you may want to accompany your conversation with plenty of descriptive details and examples.
LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND – NOT TO DEFEND
If you spend most of the conversation thinking of ways to contradict the concern being presented to you, you simply aren’t listening to understand. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with what is being said, because clearly someone you love believes it enough to bring it to your attention. Meanwhile, you’re busy building a useless defensive wall around yourself that will need to be taken down before the conversation finds real closure. Offering five minutes of vulnerability will likely spare a four-hour argument about twenty issues instead of the original simple request.
BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER
Displaying interest in what other people say will show that you value and respect them. We are responsible for loving one another in every possible way; which includes validating thoughts, feelings, and concerns. If you put down your armor and vow to listen, without imposing your own assumptions and dialog on the situation, you just may grow as a person and a couple.