Maybe we should talk about this? (Open communication in marriage)

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What is proper relationship etiquette? And how do know what is and isn’t OK in a relationship? There are millions of marriage self help books out there, and they seem to have one common theme: Communication.

As individuals we all have different ways we need to be loved, and different preferences when it comes to other humans in our lives. Much like parenting. We know as parents that each child is different and we strive to respond according to our children’s individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same with adults. The hard part is that as an adult we expect every other adult to ACT like an adult, and when they don’t, we are MORE frustrated. As adults we are just as stubborn as a willful two year old, but we have a lot more power. We have the ability to change things, and we have that innate need to push others to be what we think they should be, or act the way we think they should act.

Enter the balancing act. In a marriage our job is to be one half of a partnership. The hard part is that the other half is not controllable. It sounds simple enough to roll with the punches, but at some point it gets exhausting. Without healthy communication we are being constantly hurt by the one person we love most, and chose to spend our life with. Nobody hurts you worse than a spouse… it’s an utter betrayal. (I’m not saying other things don’t hurt, and I’m not saying your spouse will hurt you more than anyone, I mean, when you are hurt by your spouse it’s THAT much worse. It’s broken trust.) Part of the problem with putting all of your faith in another person, and not knowing how to communicate is that you both have expectations that are impossible to meet because you don’t know how to have that talk.

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My husband and I are the odd ones in our group of friends because we both are good friends with members of the opposite sex, and it’s not necessarily mutual. We have our own friendships. It’s always been that way. My married friends think it’s so strange. Some of them don’t allow their husbands to speak with other women hardly at all, only in group settings. Some of them know each others phone, email and Facebook passwords. Some share their Facebook page! You can see the extremes here?

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Personally I have always found it odd for people to be so enmeshed in their partners lives. But I see that for some of these couples it insures fidelity, and brings them closer. I think it would drive my husband and I bonkers. We both need our space. We have both been in relationships where our significant other took advantage and read through our emails, texts and for me, my journal. We chose to give each other personal space. However, we never discussed boundaries on communication with the opposite sex like certain conversations we feel are not appropriate and talking to a member of the opposite sex during “our” time. I think we both felt if we put restrictions on each other, it was a sign that we don’t trust each other. Which isn’t true. the problem with the way we do it, is, neither of us has a leg to stand on when it comes to one being upset about a friendship because neither of us know what kind it is. In the event that anything happened that “looks” wrong, either of us might jump to conclusions based on assumptions. Just like with children, boundaries protect us.

Communication is more than: “Suzie has softball and 4, Max gets out early today and we are out of milk ” Communication is being open about feelings and the things that matter. making your expectations clear. BONDING.

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