Marriage can take a strange turn when it seems your spouse is no longer the person you married. At times like this we begin to question if indeed we made the right decision to marry this person but barring abuse and extreme situations, you most likely made the right choice.
“you need to constantly redefine your relationship with your significant other to fit into the constantly changing circumstances of life”
I’ve always heard it being said that the honeymoon phase of a marriage will end and that is when you begin to build a great marriage or begin the process that will destroy that marriage.
Well, it happened to me and during that time this is what it felt like:
- I felt I probably made a mistake in my choice of a life partner
- We constantly argued over the same things
- I felt unappreciated, unheard and unseen
- I felt he had changed into someone that I truly disliked and didn’t want to be with
- We stopped talking
Truth be told, we are still in the process of building our marriage. Here’s how we’re tackling each issue:
I felt I probably made a mistake in my choice of a life partner
Trust that God has your back. When I was going to get married, I knew that it was God that guided me but somewhere along the way I forgot. I’m reminded of the children of Israel when they just left Egypt through God’s great deliverance. But they hadn’t journeyed far before Pharaoh started pursuing. Pharaoh and his army were behind and the Red Sea was in front. In this situation, it’s really easy to forget that the God that led you out of Egypt still has your back. The first thing is to remember who God is.
We constantly argued over the same things
This is because we never really resolved the issue. Imagine going from zero to explosive in 30 seconds; maybe it’s because it’s what we argued about last week and the week before that and the week before that too – you get my drift. Subsequent arguments was an escalation of the last mainly because, in a bid to avoid talking about touchy issues, we applied a band-aid to a deep cut – it’s covered but it won’t get healed. Infact it gets worse.
How did we resolve this? We talked about expectations, and we set guidelines for arguments (because we would still have arguments) and some of the guidelines are:
- If one of us is really angry, then he/she should tell the other person that he/she can’t talk right now and we would address the issue when BOTH of us are calm
- We would NEVER attack each other verbally but stick to the issue at hand
- All issues MUST be resolved before bedtime
- Honesty is important but so is tact.
- Every word MUST be weighed against LOVE.
They sound simple but these simple rules have been helping.
I felt unappreciated, unheard and unseen.
I read a quote once “Life is a hell of a thing to happen to anyone” but I also read another one “It takes two to tango”. We just get so sucked up with life, with the pursuit of our personal and professional goals that we start taking our partner for granted. Nothing was good enough and it seems I did everything I knew to do but it went unappreciated and no matter how much I talked, I was just invisible.
It’s easy to take yourselves for granted because you believe your partner would always be there but that isn’t necessarily true. Do not operate under the assumption that because you guys are Christians then divorce or separation is out of the equation. Everyone has a breaking point and at that point, people tend to act irrational and take rash decisions.
But when I got tired I tried to analyse the issue and I noticed the following:
- I did not really know myself, hence I was unable to communicate my needs and expectations to my husband. I went with what everyone has said a wife should want from her husband, I did not embrace my uniqueness
- I was being unappreciative too. Everyone and everything was more important than him; I forgot that he has never been my husband at this stage of my life and he is learning just like I am. I had to make him a priority in my life, it was important to make him understand that the kids, my career and friends are not more important.
- I saw only the negatives and I constantly meditated on them. Of course, constant meditation on my husband’s weaknesses would always create negative emotions in me.
I began to practice something I learned from the Bible that talks about reaping what you sow. I started appreciating my husband and actually listening (without opinions) when we discuss. In just a few days (I kid you not) I began to see changes. The truth – you can’t change anyone but yourself.
Take the time to be kind, appreciative, respectful, supportive and patient with your spouse.
I felt he had changed into someone that I truly disliked and didn’t want to be with.
He didn’t change; I think he became more comfortable with me that he felt he could be vulnerable with me. I figured this out after so many fights. When you’re dating and when you’re in the honeymoon phase of marriage, the overload of positive emotions makes you overlook faults in the other person. Imagine your view from the airplane, you see the larger picture and there are no details but the closer you get to the ground the more details you see. This is the analogy that I can think of, the more you relate with your spouse the more you see clearer. This can be the beginning of a mature love or the gradual disintegration of your marriage.
I can never have a perfect marriage and that’s okay. I can’t ever be perfect neither can my husband but that’s okay too. The key is to accept him just as he is, to love who he is and not who I want him to be.
I won’t ever like everything about my husband but that doesn’t mean I can’t love him. Love according to God is not about us but about who God is. Loving my husband is not about him or what’s he’s done or not done; it is about ME.
We stopped talking.
Most of the time conflicts arise because of a breakdown in communication. In the early days of my marriage, we were totally into each other and we had less issues. But over time we both wanted to be right and the times we communicated was when someone did something wrong.
In marriage as with all relationships, there comes a point when you need to decide if you want to prove your point or if you want to use that opportunity to be more emotionally connected to your partner. The ball is in your court.
Here are some tips that would help you and your partner communicate better:
- Understand where your communication patterns originated. Think back to when you were a child, how did your parents communicate with you; was it with understanding or emotional blackmail or through bullying. A thorough understanding of this would go a long way in helping you unlearn bad communication patterns.
- Do not force your opinions and beliefs on your partner. Trying to force your partner to see everything the way you do is trying to control the other person. Understand that your partner does not have your upbringing and that they have experienced life in a way that is unique to them. Present your ideas and trust that your partner is intelligent enough to make up their minds and communicate that it’s okay if they choose not to go your way.
- Your areas of need are your greatest areas of sensitivity and vulnerability. You need to discover what those needs are and communicate them to your partner. Don’t complain or argue, ask for what you need in clear and concrete terms. Never assume the other person knows what you want.
- Always ask for clarification. Depending on what it is you are trying to communicate, ask your partner if he/she understands what you are saying.
- Understand the differences between how men and women communicate. I would suggest these books by Dr Myles Munroe – Understanding the Power and Purpose of Men and Understanding the Power and Purpose of Women.
Communication is integral to everything in your marriage. Even if you plan on communicating, the only way you can be good at it is to continue learning how to communicate. Continue to improve and learn.
Your spouse might act crazy but he/she isn’t crazy. You are just going through a process that would increase your intimacy on so many levels but it depends on the two of you. Both of you must be ready to work through all your issues and come out stronger.