This week’s feature is from Mel K, the fashionista blogger behind Confessions Of A Work In Progress. Mel is a social worker, turned public administrator, turned retail sales associate/fashion blogger and is now in the middle of her Leadership Studies Ph.D. program. Her blog is chalk full of modest + feminine style tips and tricks, insight on how to make your marriage strong and solid, and reflections on how to live your life with purpose and grace! Today, she’s sharing her experience on communication in her 4 years marriage and how “talking about feelings” can be easier than it seems.
Favorite smell: “Freshly ground and brewed Texas Pecan coffee! It’s amazing.”
One thing on your bucket list: “I would love to visit Israel! I think that would be so cool!”
Favorite fast food: “Chick Fil A of course! I’m a loyal customer!”
Thank you Mel for being a part of our Real-Girls: Wives community! Finding magic in the midst of motherhood + marriage is something we are all doing, together. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for some fun blog post links on Mel’s blog, on bettering your marriage! And be sure to follow her on Instagram (@confessionsofaworkinprogress) for daily style tips, sweet encouragement, and fun insight on creating a happy marriage.
“My husband and I are complete polar opposites. Honestly, how we ended up together is really a miracle from God! He is a first responder, very stoic, quiet, and a man of few words. He doesn’t quite know how to express his feelings. And sometimes, he doesn’t know how to even identify his feelings! I’m a former social worker, very expressive, and all about the feelings!! Normally, there is no shortage of words to express how I feel. But, communication and conflict can be a struggle at times in my marriage and probably in yours too! Over the 4 years we’ve been married, I have learned and continue to learn how to be patient with my spouse and guide each other through the process of communicating our feelings to me in a way that resonates with both of our methods of processing, while also working on our conflict resolution.
Here are a few ways you can do the same in your marriage:
Active listening basically means that when you are communicating with your partner, you need to be actively participating in the conversation, not by talking, but by intentionally listening!!
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19
Have you ever been a part of a conversation where you are talking and then someone cuts you off? They just jump in and carry on the conversation? Sometimes, it’s fine…you just go with the flow. But, there are other times when this is straight-up annoying! You didn’t get your point across, or by the time they let you speak again, you forgot your point! This is why there is so much wisdom in James 1:19. This verse is telling you how important it is to listen first – then, speak slowly – as in process your thoughts before they come out without a filter.
Here are examples of how my husband and I practice this in our marriage:
- Pay Attention. Put down the phone, turn off the TV, don’t think about what you’re going to rebuttal with, or about what’s for dinner, or your to-do list. Focus on the words coming out of your spouse’s mouth so you can respond lovingly and thoughtfully in a way that resonates with them. The best way to do this is to sit together facing each other, holding hands. No one can stay mad long when you’re holding hands!
- Show that You’re Listening. Maintain eye contact!! This is a big one. Keep your eyes glued on your partner. Say something in response like “I understand” or “okay,” that so they know you are engaged in the conversation and want to hear what they have to say. Keep your body language relaxed, open, and inviting. This type of body posture says, “yes, I am listening to you. I am involved in this conversation…I’m not rushing you, or getting defensive.”
- Provide Feedback. Paraphrase what your spouse said to you for clarity. This helps reiterate that you were listening and shows that you understood what they said. You can also ask clarifying questions such as, “So you said (blank), Is this what you mean?” or “Can you help me understand what you meant when you said (blank)?”
Using I Feel Statements
Don’t focus on attacking your spouse with harsh statements, or by making judgements and accusations about them. Instead, focus on communicating how what they said or did makes you feel. Generally, no one can discredit how you feel. Here are some examples of how to communicate your thoughts better:
Instead of saying: You just don’t love me!, Or: It’s because you don’t care about me!
Say: When you do this… it makes me feel like you aren’t considering my feelings. Or, I don’t feel loved right now.
Instead of saying: All you ever do is think about yourself!
Say: I feel like you are not taking my needs into account right now.
Instead of saying: You’re so lazy! You never do the dishes!
Say: Sweetie, when you don’t do the dishes, I get upset because it makes me feel like you don’t care about helping around the house which makes me think you don’t respect my time.
Focus on the Truth of the Situation
Personally, I think this is probably one of the most important principles to apply to your marriage. Honestly, I think a lot of marriages could be saved if both parties implemented this one principle. So many times, couples fight over issues that aren’t really the actual root of the problem.
The second part of James 1:19 says to be “slow to speak.” While you aren’t speaking, you should be praying! Pray and ask God, “Lord, help me! What is going on here. I do not understand what the issue is we are fighting about. Reveal to me what the Truth is!” Bringing God to the center of your marriage will keep truth, love, and peace at the center of your conversations.
For instance, there was one time when my husband and I were chatting at his parent’s house. Then, his mom came in the room and his mood shifted. I gave him a playful kick in the butt (something we do as a inside joke/endearing gesture), and he snapped at me. He gave me the cold shoulder and his voice had a tone in it.
I thought, umm…what the heck just happened?! I asked him what was wrong and he said something like, “I don’t like it when you kick me like that! It reminds me of a time when …..this happened….and now I have PTSD from it.” I was thinking, what?! Seriously?! And my mind went on to discredit why he felt the way he did, instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt and addressing the problem in private. We continued to argue back and forth, which made a small blip in the day turn into a huge ordeal.
So in the midst of this conflict, I took a moment to pray.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit interceded and revealed the Truth to me. After praying, I said, “Okay dear. You’re telling me that you’re upset with me because I did …. But that just doesn’t add up. Is it possible that you’re actually upset because of what your mom said or did?” Suddenly, it was like… Ding! Ding! Ding!! I got it! My husband opened up like a vault. For my husband, he wasn’t trying to withhold information from me or be cold because he doesn’t want to be playful with me. He just couldn’t pinpoint the root of the problem until we addressed it.
This is why it’s so important to ask God to reveal the Truth to you during arguments! If I went off of what my husband said and didn’t seek resolution afterward, we would never be able to joke around with each other or be playful and grow from those little conflict blips.
Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No mean No
“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” – James 5:12
Basically, mean what you say and say what you mean. You will save yourself a lot of headache if you abide by this communication principle! If you are in the middle of a fight and you want to work toward reconciliation, want to talk things out, want a hug….then don’t say things like, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore! Get away from me!” but then secretly think, “He better not walk away from me or he is dead meat!!” As women, I think we are especially guilty of this. You can’t say, “You don’t need to give me a present for my birthday,” but then secretly think, “I hope he gets me a reaalllly good present!”
Husbands can’t read our minds. My husband expects me to mean what I say, not play the guessing game trying to decipher what I say. So if I tell him, “That’s okay, you can hang out with your friends tonight…” Well then, he is going to make plans with his friends tonight!
To wrap it up, be straightforward with your spouse. Let them know exactly what you’re thinking and feeling, right when it’s happening. You are not helping your marriage by hiding how you truly feel! Too often, pride and foolishness get in the way of us communicating what we really think and feel. Don’t give Satan a foothold by allowing pride to enter your marriage.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful! Communicating with your spouse can be difficult at times – I totally get it! But, these few principles have helped our marriage the last 4 years time and time again! For more tips on how to have a productive conflict in marriage, read this post and this post on my blog about how to stop fighting and start having healthy disagreements instead. ❤
Mel | Blogger at Confessions Of A Work In Progress
Follow along on Instagram: @confessionsofaworkinprogress