A few weeks after my husband and I got married I was talking to a woman who happened to help us to find accommodation. When she learned that we were newlyweds she got extremely excited to share some words of wisdom with us as she happened to survive divorce and now was in her second marriage and seemed to have opinions about these issues. Amongst a lot of talking there was one thought that caught my attention. She said, “Never store up dissatisfaction, anger and all kinds of small things against your partner. This is what will ruin your marriage on the long run”.
It seems like a very right idea, not to store up anything bad and let it out right there so that negativity doesn’t build up and you both can clear it straight away out. It makes very much sense to be open with your partner and let him know how you feel, – who would object to that? However, I think there is a trap to this approach that can actually do the opposite – ruin the relationship instead of strengthening it.
Imagine a situation. Your man was supposed to do the groceries and he did, but he forgot to buy the butter, shampoo and tomatoes – all of which you needed desperately. That makes you irritated, so you tell him angrily, “It’s really annoying that you forgot to buy butter, shampoo and tomatoes!” It’s important to let it out, no storing up, right?
Next time when he is back from a walk with your dog he forgets to wash the doggy’s feet. That means that now you have to wash the whole house as it’s full of dirt marks. Of course you feel outraged with his carelessness and you let him know straight away that you do and why.
Every time your husband makes a stupid move you let him know about it hoping that he will learn and get better next time. But your husband either gets defensive, or irritant, or withdraws from you. You know why? – because you are behaving like a nagging wife. Or have you turned into one?
There is a very thin line that goes between being sincere about how you feel and being naggy. In both cases you are willing to honestly let your partner know how you feel. In both cases you want to improve the relationship. But good intentions don’t always bring good results.
So how do smart women manage to be sincere without turning into always nagging and unhappy witches?
1. By being understanding. Ok, he screwed up. But maybe he was tired or had problems at work, or maybe he just thinks differently and is not so much into details? When we are able to accept other person’s perspective and situation conflicts get resolved much easier.
2. By being respectful no matter what happened. When your partner feels that you respect him, that you are on his side he doesn’t feel like getting defensive. It’s not HIM who is the problem, it’s a situation, attitude, approach, misunderstanding, etc. that makes you upset. He is good, always.
3. By taking the time out. Yes, it is on the tip of your tongue to tell the partner how wrong his decision was and how terribly he behaved. But if you say it now while you are still angry your emotions will get contagious and your partner will also feel angry. Is that what you want? How about waiting for an appropriate moment some time in the evening when your honey is fed and happy and then bringing it up?
4. By being his friend. Being friends means being equal. When you start reprimanding your partner and teaching him how to live you turn into his Mom. What can be more annoying? Friends discuss, have fun and never put pressure on each other. You express your requests, he expresses his and you agree on a compromise. When people are equal they give each other freedom to have different opinions.
So, the advice I was given by that woman in the beginning of my own marriage is true. It is crucial to talk, let your partner know if you are unhappy or hurt. But the way you do it is no less crucial. This is what determines the outcome.
What do you think?