This post was originally shared on the old alohilana blog way back in 2011. It’s been edited for relevancy and clarity, but the content is the same, and tbh, just as needed today as it was 11 years ago!
If you’d told me 20 years ago that relationships are the hardest thing you will ever do in this world, I probably would have scoffed a little inside, smiled politely, and ignored the rest of your conversation.
Sweet, naïve little child was I.
My parents weren’t perfect, not in the least; but they were a strong unit and in the church culture that I grew up in, there weren’t people coming out of the woodworks to talk about how hard it is to blend your life and bend your own ideas to accommodate a marriage relationship.
Marriage implosions happened, naturally, but they were rare in our circle, and not discussed openly.
So when young, bright-eyed me got married after a whirlwind courtship in which we agreed on every single point, I was completely unprepared for the 17,000 fights we got into the week after saying ‘I do’.
In the interest of keeping it really, really real, that marriage ended in divorce for entirely different reasons than typical human quarrels, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me that I’d encounter any kind of opposing opinion when J and I became a unit.
Obviously, I was still living that naïve life, although probably not as sweet and definitely not a child.
There’s freedom in sharing your most treasured personal opinions, the highs and lows of your emotions, and even all of your irrationalities with someone who has committed to love you for all of your life. But sometimes there’s a little too much freedom. It’s easy to allow the sharp edge of your emotions to wound the person you love most in this world, simply because, well, obviously you love them. I mean, you chose them, after all. They should totally get it.
It’s tempting to fall into the habit of saving your best manners for those outside your home. After all, you’re not trying to impress your spouse with your broadmindedness or kind heart. The deed is done. You’re hitched now, so you may as well have things your [clearly superior] way.
Not so much.
If you’ve fallen into those hurtful habits, you’re not alone, friend. We’re all human and frankly, we’re all going to struggle with giving up our ‘right to be right’ on a regular basis.
There are some ways that you can steer that ship of yours in a different direction, though. When things get tense and there seems to be an iceberg up ahead, do yourself a favor. Stop, breathe, and try some conflict-reducing phrases like these:
Please try to understand my point of view.
Wait, can I take that back?
You don’t have to solve this—it helps me just to talk to you.
This is important to me. Please listen.
I overreacted, I’m sorry.
I see you’re in a tough position.
I can see my part in this.
I hadn’t thought of it that way before.
I could be wrong.
Let’s agree to disagree on that.
This isn’t just your problem, it’s our problem.
I’m feeling unappreciated.
We’re getting off the subject.
You’ve convinced me.
Please keep talking to me.
I realize it’s not your fault.
That came out all wrong.
I see how I contributed to the problem.
What are we really fighting about?
How can I make things better?
I love you.
Surprisingly enough for a stubborn gal like me, being humble and open and willing to admit that my way may not be right – or maybe, just maybe, my delivery obliterated the message and intent – is hugely rewarding.
It’s okay to take a grown-up time out in the middle of a heated discussion. It’s okay to reach out and compromise.
At the end of the day, peace is worth the silenced words.
Have a wonderful week, friends!