If you were to ask me:
“What is the hardest thing that you’ve had to work through in your marriage?”
I would respond without the blinking of an eye:
“Finances and infertility.”
And it’s ALL because of communication…or lack thereof.
Communication is, in my opinion, the stealthiest killer in a marriage. From what I’ve gathered, it’s a never ending process of learning your spouse’s language (that makes absolutely no stinkin’ sense half of the time) and vice versa.
In just about everything, Andrew and I share goals & beliefs and can easily communicate and relate. Yet there a few things that seem to provoke a constant struggle in our communication. Things that we typically do not disagree on but (for whatever unknown reason) clash heads when it comes to the communication of our perspectives. The two that I stated above are, without a doubt, the Achilles heel of our marriage so far.
I truly believe that I have the kindest, most understanding, thoughtful husband a girl could ask for. Seriously, his unconditional love for me puts me to shame and humbles me with its Christ like similarity. I really am blessed beyond what I deserve. Still. We are humans; there are those days and those touchy subjects.
I’m ashamed to say that I’ve lost my temper & isolated myself more times than most toddlers. Ok, maybe not quite that much but you get the picture.
In that moment when emotions are high, tears start to flow and everything that your spouse is saying is frustratingly wrong—the worst side of yourself is provoked and your thoughts naturally go on the defense:
“How can he say that stuff when I am obviously not great? Just HUG ME dang it!”
“Why is she crying again?”
“How can he not understand what I’m saying? Am I speaking Portuguese?!”
“Why won’t she let me fix this?”
“He just wants to fix everything! Why can’t he just listen to me?”
And after it’s all over with and emotions have settled, apologies ensue and you come to realize that you did agree after all. But the way that it was communicated did not allow for that simple understanding. What did result was a huge waste of time, a needless headache, and you drinking a gallon of water to rehydrate.
Well, as much as I like bawling my eyes out, I wanted to seek ways that we could avoid the hubbub on these sensitive issues and communicate more effectively, specifically with infertility in mind—for all our sakes.
Infertility is a hard, hard road. It evokes a lot of womanly emotion that is hard for a man’s “can-fix-it” attitude to understand. Women need a lot of extra patience, grace, and empathy—because a lot of times, we don’t even know what we’re feeling. Men need explanations, chances to provide solutions, and to feel like they can be effective in taking care of you. There is a lot of give and take—but you need each other in order to cope with your already overwhelming situation. Seriously.
Now we are FAR from expert and even farther from perfect. But together we wrote this list of ideas and thoughts on eliminating the frustration before it starts and hopefully you’ll find one or two of the points to be helpful in your own journey—infertility or otherwise. Note neither perspective is right or wrong—this is about bridging the gap in communication and seeking understanding of your spouse’s perspectives.
PICK THE RIGHT TIME
Those big, emotional conversations? Not when you’re both exhausted after work, not when he’s trying to watch hockey, and not when you’re already worked up. If you can’t think or process clearly you’re just setting yourself up for disaster.
IF NOW IS NOT A GOOD TIME
Explain yourself and ask to talk later. I tend to say this phrase “it’s nothing” or “I don’t want to talk about it”—sound familiar (I’m about to get really self-conscious if that’s just me)? To Andrew, this phrase signals high alert and makes him push for information—understandably, because he’s worried. At some point, all the information usually starts tumbling out with tears and frustration OR I clam up and Andrew is angry that I won’t confide in him. To avoid this, I’m learning to not expect him to guess or understand telepathically. I’m also learning to simply explain “I’m feeling sad but I want to talk about it later” and add what you need from him “We’re ok, but right now I just need some space” OR “Right now, I just need a hug.” And he’s learning to hear what I’m saying and to not keep pushing for information until I’m ready. This way he receives a suitable answer, you don’t have to explain everything, and you both know to talk about it later under better circumstances.
KEEP IT CALM
When you do talk about your feelings/struggles/concerns/issues—try to keep your voice at a normal pitch. When someone’s voice starts to accelerate, go up in pitch, or sound frustrated you naturally go on the defensive.
ASSUME THE BEST
I haven’t the slightest idea why I’m so quick to turn my husband into an evil, anti-husband (like I’ve actually thought, “how did I not know this man was so desperately wicked before marrying him!”—emotions make you delusional, what can I say?) when things are rough between us—it’s like he is the nemesis enemy. Go figure. I’ve had to train myself (still do) to remember who it is that I’m talking to: my husband, my teammate, my best friend! He loves me, he cares, and he wants to help. Don’t listen to the lies that your frustration tell you, assume that he is the same man that you married and fell in love with. You owe him the benefit of the doubt—the same goes the other way around.
RECOGNIZE YOUR SENSITIVE TOPICS
For us, it’s finances and infertility. We don’t have opposing beliefs or disagree on future plans but sometimes we disconnect on communicating how we feel about the in-between stuff. Plus, we have had hard discussions in the past that have lent to them becoming sensitive topics whenever they are brought up. In efforts to respect each other and feelings that may erupt with that specific topic, it’s important for us to take extra care when bringing up these topics.
LISTEN TO THE REASON WHY
While we’re talking about iffy subjects, take a minute to learn the reason why. Why is it a sensitive subject for your spouse? Why do they feel so strongly about this or that? We all have different backgrounds & experiences that have formulated our opinions over the years. For us, it was extremely helpful to learn the reasons behind the feelings. Seeing the situation from a different perspective helped us to be more understanding & empathetic.
It may be the last thing you want to do together at the moment but praying is the perfect way to take the focus off of your situation & gain a bigger perspective by simply giving it over to God. You probably know of the triangle illustration with you, your spouse, and God at opposing points. When both of you strive to live for God, you end up drawing closer together simultaneously—just as the triangle draws together closer to the point. Thus, prayer is huge. You can keep striving on your own and maybe even make some headway but ultimately you need Christ to work within your situation—growing you together with grace in order to truly make a lasting change.
Those “marriage is hard” advisors weren’t lying—it truly is. In fact, it’s worse than hard—it’s impossible. But let me tell ya (in all my four years of experience 😉 ), the benefit of a stronger, deeper relationship as a direct result of working through the hard stuff is so worth it. We still fight, we still have our hot buttons intact, and we have many years to go with new obstacles to overcome. But ultimately, I notice such a difference in how we talk with each other & discuss our situation after making an intentional effort to improve our communication—there is so much more understanding & grace. Here’s hoping that in 50 years we’ll be so in tune that we’ll have it down to an occasional grunt. 😉
From one imperfect spouse to another…Keep. Going. Xx