We have just come off a long two weeks of non-stop projects and hot days. I don’t know about you, but I get the most frustrated during these times because my husband tends to do what he does best… at home… He ties to manage everything. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a strength of his. Because he is so good at managing time, money and people we have food on the table, a nice home to live in and overall a comfortable lifestyle. But I can’t say I appreciate when he tries to manage me, my time, my efforts, how I parent… you get the picture! He gets tired and doesn’t realize what he’s saying. I can’t say I always stop and remind myself that “Rachel, he is tired, let it go” I am getting better about that but I can’t say it always helps the situation. I still feel like I’m not good enough, what I do will never be enough and the list goes on. What I fail to remember when sleep is not happening is that these voices in my head are simply that. Voices in my head. He has never said “wow Rachel, why can’t you do better?” I just take it that way. One thing we have really had to work on in our marriage is how we say things and being conscientious of how the other takes in that information. That includes a lot of evenings on the couch talking out our problems, annoyances and family drama we (mostly I) feel is affecting us. We are not perfect, but open communication has definitely been a must. We constantly have to remind each-other that what you are saying can be hurtful. It may take awhile for Rett to come out about stuff like that, but when he brings it up, it is helpful to me knowing that maybe I should word things a little differently next time.
I have found a few things help me when it’s time to have that conversation:
Never nag the other, just calmly ask “do you realize what you’r saying?” Usually they don’t. It takes time for change to happen and unfortunately people don’t change overnight. At our house things will start going well, then BOOM! Explosion, apologizes and now getting back on track. It’s a constant balancing act.
Address the Issue.
So now your going crazy and it’s time to deal with the problem. Calmly address exactly what you are frustrated about and how you feel about the situation. Never expect the other to “just know”. 9 times out of 10 they are clueless there is even a problem.
Keep Your Cool.
This is hard in the heat of the moment but I have found if I can keep calm and keep my voice calm the conversation will be MUCH more constructive. Something we both have to work on watching our tone and staying on topic ensuring a constructive conversation. It is so easy to slip into blaming and name calling. Just deal with what happened, what was going through your brain that lead to that decision and before you end the conversation, end with a verdict you can both agree on.
Be Honest, Yet Respectful.
This can be hard, but like watching your tone, watch what you say. My husband and I have learned we are much better off when we just give complete honesty. But note, when you place blame on the other, it is never going to help the relationship. When my husband expresses that “a messy house frustrates me” (this happens all the time) he is stating the issue and how he feels about it. He has not directly placed blame on me. If I were to say “when I’m told what to do all the time, it makes me feel like I’m not a good mom or good at managing my own time and responsibilities” I have not directly said “hey stop telling me what to do, JERK!” I have stated the problem and how I feel about it.
This is probably the most important part of your conversation. You can have a great heart-to-heart conversation but if nothing is going to come of it, what have you really accomplished? We have always made a point to have a verdict at the end of every conversation. This was something I really pushed early on and now my husband will be the one to ask at the end “so what did we decide?” It is that important for us. Without a verdict we have wasted our time. For us, we try to find the middle ground. We each have to give a little to get a little. This isn’t always easy and is definitely not always fun, but it is necessary for us to continue a healthy marriage. For example, if Rett wants help all day, usually I ask that he help in the house. He might just load and start the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry and sweep the floor but at the end of the day, something so simple like that is a huge help to me. It’s crazy how much the home can just blow up in one busy day. Trust me, I don’t always want to go help, BUT I know it is necessary for our relationship.
Again, my husband and I are not perfect. No one is innocent in all of this…EVER. I once heard a saying “Marriage is one big fight. You are constantly fighting for your marriage” I have no idea where I heard or maybe read that but it definitely stuck. I have learned it’s a constant balancing act. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I do know one thing. We are always having conversations to ensure balance. We each, continually have to give a little help to get a little sanity in return. When you can enjoy balance in your marriage, it makes the rough patches worth it.