There are a lot of things I could write about in regards to the talks that could and maybe should go on between spouses. I'm going to focus on three things, though.
- little things.
- dreaming together.
- when not to talk
Yes, it's important to talk about where you want to live, whether or not to have kids and how many. It's a good idea to talk about how you'll handle the merging of family traditions (and this could take years to figure out) and financial realities and goals. But, for many of us, talking about these things don't necessarily come naturally and can sometimes bring out intense emotional reactions by both partners. How can these conversations be a little easier? With practice.
Start by talking about everything and anything. Bodily functions, the trip to the dentist, grocery shopping, and interpersonal relations at the office. Learning to talk to each other over the seemingly smaller things can give you clues to how to interact with each other over the bigger topics. In my opinion, once your spouse has to plunge the toilet for you, there should be nothing that can't be put out there to debate! So, don't dismiss awkward tidbits with a nervous giggle. Think about them as practical research about how your spouse might react when you bring up spending the holidays at home instead of with his family. Right?
I think it's a good idea to talk about your future together. Note that I said future not futures. Talk about your collective futures and if you want early retirement and the beach and he wants a second job plowing snow after retirement...there's no time like now to begin working that out! By doing so you're sharing pieces of your inner self and setting goals to work toward. I think dreams can be realistic or completely playful, but either way they're important to have and share with your spouse.
You may have heard that it's never to early to talk about retirement, and it's true. So, talk about it. Where would you like to retire? What would you like to do? When would you like to stop working and how? You can also fantasize about career goals, hobbies you'd like to enjoy, vacations you'd like to take. Think about the things you can learn about your spouse this way...and what fun it is to imagine "what if?"
Dreaming isn't just for the long term either. If he'd like a new big screen television, I'd consider that a dream! But not one that's out of reach it you look at it together and work toward it. It may mean date night is in front of the small screened TV you currently have with dinner you prepared together in the kitchen instead of a night on the town, but there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, there's sometimes a lot right about it.
when not to talk
Are there really times not to talk? Yes there are. Some say you should never go to bed angry, but I think it's OK to do now and then. Not everything can be resolved in a short, sweet shouting match followed by make up sex. Sometimes you and your spouse may reach a point where you're talking in circles and not making any headway. Or you might realize that resolving this issue is going to take a lot more thinking and talking and, practically, nobody gets the day off tomorrow so you'd better get to sleep. Or maybe you just don't know what else to say and you're feeling hurt.
Our unwritten rule is that no one sleeps on the couch. No matter what we go to bed in the same bed, but we may still be angry, hurt, unsure. I usually try to still reach out a toe to touch his leg. And I leave the topic unresolved. I usually try to say a prayer for direction and wisdom in how to proceed and I usually remind myself why I married this man and why he chose me. Sometimes when we wake up I'm still angry, and that's OK.
Thus far we've resolved everything we've fought over...in time, with a clear mind.
So, I know I said I was only going to comment on these three point, but I think there are two other things I'd like to say. First, I say all of this with my first "How Do You Do It? (Marriage)" post in mind. The gist of that was that it takes two people who want to be married to create a healthy and happy relationship with one another. And a big part of that, I think, is wanting the best for the other. If tense conversations are had with this at the core, some of the drama is extracted right from the get go. If you know if your heart and head that he would never intentionally say anything to cut you to the core, then you have the ability to hear what he's saying is for the betterment of your relationship, at least as he sees it. I haven't had to do it in a long time, but when Scott and I were first married I honestly used to say, "I know you didn't mean that like I heard it. Can you try to say it a different way, please?" This helped.
Second, know yourself as best you can. If you can identify when you're feeling more needy, unusually irritated, tired, stressed by other parts of your life you're a step ahead. Knowing these things can help you honestly assess your reaction to comments your spouse makes.
Bottom line...give them the benefit of the doubt. He loves you. She loves you. Talking together can be a great way to express and grow that love.
OK...I promise this is the last thing. Really. I swear to you that Scott and I are not fighting. I just had a horrible time sleeping last night...a lot on my mind I guess. So, after an hour of trying not to wake him up, I came out and finished this post, made a few to do lists, played some online games and watched TV. Eventually I made my way to a devotional book I'd been considering trying to find again. I found it and opened it. This is what I read:
A marriage may be made in heaven, but the maintenance must be done on earth.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:33
Marriages are meant to be complementary - two pulling together as one, not in competition, but in mutual association. (from God's Little Devotional Book, published by Honor Books, Inc.)I think I read it to share with you. What do you think?