Things we learn in healthy a marriage
What if you’re the indecisive person who has allowed your spouse to make the decisions? Now you’re ready to make decisions. Well, this is a new practice in your marriage, and your spouse will have to become accustomed to you being in the driver’s seat for decision-making.
What are some things your spouse has taught you when your marriage was healthy? When it was unhealthy? Next to parenting, I believe our marriage is our greatest schoolground. Here are five lessons we learn in a healthy marriage.
1. How to have difficult conversations
Throughout our marriage, we must address the big elephant in the room. Invariably, those are the times when the conversation is anything but easy. These are topics that we may not want to talk about for many reasons. It would be impossible to list all the reasons why one or both spouses dread having a tough conversation. But one thing is for certain: difficult conversations are an ongoing reality in our marriage.
One of the main reasons spouses’ dislike having difficult conversations is because they have a clear understanding of how their spouse will react, what they will say, and if there will be punitive outcomes such as revenge, shutting down, refusing sex, or other responses. Our marital history is an infallible predictor of how our spouse will respond to a present situation. Given history is a surefire predictor of our present responses, it is even more important to notice when positive change has arrived, and they are improving in an area.
Have you noticed areas of improvement in your spouse when you two are hashing out a difficulty? Do they speak more calmly? Are they less reactionary? A better listener? Do they show grace and mercy or are they still “always right”? These are great questions to gauge if our spouse is departing from their historical self and working on a new and improved person for the marriage but more importantly, for themselves.
2. How to allow your partner to be in their own space without trying to change them
Is there ever a situation where we can change our spouse? What if they are abusive, a procrastinator, surly, slow to process information, lack technological skills, or just hardheaded? Is it okay to try to change them? Does the adage “don’t try to change your spouse” still apply in today’s marriages? In sum, the adage still applies for healthy marriages. We are not to try and change our spouse. Maybe I should repeat this adage for those who have been busted: “We are not to try and change our spouse.”
They might have the worst habit or temperament, but if they are not interested in changing for themselves or marriage, they are showing their true colors. And the last thing you want to do is force someone to be who we want them to be when they aren’t interested. That is considered counterproductive. Positive changes come over time, not by force, but by each person being interested personally in improvement.
When in our existence has God forced us to change? He wants us to be like Him so much so that He gave us His precious Holy Spirit. But He will not force us to be like Him even if it means we wind up in a worst predicament. Can He force us to change? Yes. Will He force us to change? No.
3. How to compromise (seek solutions that are best for each of you)
Practically speaking, to locate healthy compromise is to search for common ground. Formula: (yes, there are formulas in marriage that still work). So, the formula for healthy compromise is – if you win and your spouse loses, you both lose. If your spouse wins and you lose, you both lose. If you win and your spouse wins, you have located a healthy compromise.
Be thoughtful about compromise though. Is there ever a time where your spouse is right, and the decision needs to go his/her way? For the sake of your marriage, relent and do what is right, not what you want. Win the war even if you must lose the battle, especially if you are headstrong on things going your way. Try this tactic a few times. Go against your personal grain for the good of the marriage. After time, it will become natural for you to first think “I’m doing this for the good of my marriage” instead of “this is what I want us to do.”
What if you’re the indecisive person who has allowed your spouse to make the decisions? Now you’re ready to make decisions. Well, this is a new practice in your marriage, and your spouse will have to become accustomed to you being in the driver’s seat for decision-making. Try sharing with your spouse your change of heart, that you want to participate in making decisions, and you want to begin collaborating on matters. Remember, your spouse needs time to incorporate you into the process. You might have to re-read Number 1 above as you discuss being participative.
4. How to work through triggers
Just about everyone has some emotional triggers, though these might look a little different from person to person. Here are some common situations that trigger our emotions (you can add to this list): Common situations that trigger intense emotions include: rejection, betrayal, injustice, faulty beliefs, helplessness, loss of control, being excluded or ignored, criticism, feeling unwanted or unneeded, feeling smothered or too needed, insecurity, or loss of independence.
All these situations make us temporarily emotional. Should a situation keep us entangled in negative emotions, and we can’t stop feeling a certain way, it should no longer be considered a trigger. It is most likely a stronghold in our life. When we are emotionally triggered temporarily (speak to your spouse to verify if your emotions are temporary), identify what has brought on the trigger, own that it triggered you, focus on the origin (the trigger is a symptom), then correct it, get away from it, and pray over it and act accordingly. Never should we pray over our situations without being prepared to partner with God in resolving the problem.
5. How your childhood impacts the present
From the biological side of things to how we're nurtured, a lot of what goes on in childhood influences how we turn out as adults. Just as we are our child’s first teacher, our parents were ours. The things they said, their habits, and how they related to us and others, laid the foundation for many of our beliefs, values, attitudes, and parenting practices. We may not like our parents, but we are a byproduct of them.
There are occasions when our spouses may have placed their foot in their mouth by telling us, “You act just like your mom or dad.” Why is that so offensive to us? Well, naturally we believe we have grown into our own person and our parents have nothing to do with who we are today. We must outgrow our past to be certain we are our own man or woman. In other words, we must learn how to be a better version of ourselves to obtain bragging rights that we are our own owner.
How do we grow into a better version? The best way is to give ourselves to Jesus. He turns us into the best version of ourselves, far moreso than if we spent all our life’s savings on therapy, self-improvement, or religious practices. So many of us have residual baggage from our childhood experiences. Trust Jesus first. He knows our DNA, our baggage, and our heart’s desires.