He is not a Woman – I bet we all know this. The only challenge is we do not internalize the extent to which this reality differentiates us in reasoning out issues, goals, financial issues, communication, showing empathy, expressing emotions and verbalizing thoughts. Men tend to use more concise, short language, while women lean toward a lengthy, detailed manner. Think of it this way, men are bullet points, and women are paragraphs. To build a bridge for each other. First, you must be aware of it. Then, both must learn to adapt to their style. Have you discussed your love languages? Are you conscious to love him as he likes to be loved and not as you do? Are you deliberate about supporting her in a way that she will feel it? The differences may be challenging at times, but it can also be beautiful. All it takes is time, willingness to learn, and adapting to them, but it’s so worth it!
What to do? I will strongly recommend a book that is very useful in this regard. The book by John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is an enormously popular book containing many suggestions for improving relationships between men and women through understanding the communication style and emotional needs of the opposite sex. Also, learn to value what is important to the other. If you aren’t sure what your husband or wife’s needs are, ask!
Choose Your Battles – Have you ever been in a relationship that seemed more like work than fun? Where every day you seemed to have a new issue to discuss? Maybe it had to do with little miscommunications, or an ongoing dispute, or a difference of opinion that regularly complicated your daily interactions.
Whatever it was, you always found yourself wanting to clear things up to get everything back to normal. Except that was normal—conflict, friction, and disagreement; you just held out hope that maybe it could change.
I had a relationship like this before I met my husband. We really got each other, and that’s a big part of why we grew close so fast (or so we thought). But we also got on each other’s nerves on a near-daily basis. In retrospect, I see that our two howbeit ‘good’ personalities came together to create something toxic. It was like the perfect collusion of insecurities and egos. In retrospect, I also realize we both created drama where it didn’t need to be. We made everything an issue. Then I met my husband and he will not pick a fight as I was used to. He will digest my concerns and act on them drama-free.
Sometimes we find ourselves dealing with stresses unrelated to the relationship, so we vent that stress where we easily can; on the people closest to us. As I grew up and opened my heart to learning, I began to realise the importance of not being overly reactive and deliberately choosing what to make an issue of and things I could let go of without drama. Much more I am daily reminded we are meant to disagree to agree as we are on the same team and there are no awards for winning arguments with your spouse.
What to do? If you find that this is the only way you know how to be in a relationship of any kind, and you may even look for problems when there’s nothing to fight about. If you grew up around chaos, you may actually feel more secure when you’re yelling, getting yelled at, and making up. It might even feel uncomfortable to have a day without any friction. Challenge yourself to sit with your feelings so you can learn to minimize your internal drama. When you work on releasing your anxious energy, you’ll be able to explore what relationships can look and feel like without it. You may only experience this for short lengths of time at first, but if you work at it every day, that time will increase. You’ll slowly start feeling more secure in enjoying the other person’s company, and less of a need to model this relationship after others that hinged around fighting.
Walk away from a heated situation for a few minutes to avoid immediate overreaction or spewing careless comments you do not mean. Calm down and consider what an argument will accomplish. If you choose to fight every battle, you’ll be seen as stubborn or argumentative and miss the opportunity to pass your message as it will be lost in that perception about you.
Fighting with your spouse or partner in public will rarely have a positive outcome. Find a quiet place to vent your frustrations in private so you can have an honest conversation without outside pressure. Both of will likely become defensive if the fight becomes overly emotional. Practice effective listening (hearing what your spouse is not saying from what they are saying). Let your partner know his or her view is valued, even if you don’t completely agree. Do not assume your partner knows what you’re feeling. Be specific about what upsets you.
Coming up…we will discuss in details how best to communicate effectively. Many of us are talkers, we pride ourselves in being blunt, saying things how we feel without weighing the impact on the other party. Can we unlearn this? How? I will be sharing this in the next piece.
Please send me an email if you want me to walk with you through any concern or you require counsel. I am happy to help.