Misunderstandings can wreak havoc in the best of relationships. Often it starts out as something pretty small which can turn extremely nasty over time if it is not dealt with properly and carefully. Like a small cut on your finger, if you neglect to disinfect it and protect it from further injury, infection can set in and it becomes inflamed and painful, causing a lot of unnecessary suffering. It’s the same with misunderstandings in your marriage.
Thankfully there is a lot that you and your spouse can do to minimize the pain as you learn to understand each other better and better. Here are some tips to help you work through your differences and strengthen your relationship( http://www.marriage.com/advice/relationship/ ) in the process.
Choose the right timing
Just before you both have to rush off to work or into a meeting with your boss is definitely not the right time to bring up an issue with your spouse. Rather schedule a time later in the day when you are both free to speak openly and without interruptions. If one or both of you is very emotional, rather take a short timeout and then sit down together to discuss things quietly.
Don’t assume you know what’s what
It is natural to assume that you know exactly what your spouse meant when they said or did something that offended you. However, a wise person once said that to ‘assume’ makes an ass of u and me. Don’t jump to any conclusions or judgements before you have heard from your spouse exactly what happened and what his or her reasons, motives and intentions may have been.
Remember you are on the same team
Before thinking the worst, take a moment to remember that you and your beloved spouse are on the same team. You love each other so much that you decided to get married and spend the rest of your lives enjoying each other’s company. Don’t let a misunderstanding rob you of that joy. Tell yourself that whatever it is, you are going to work it out together and it will not change your love for one another – in fact it could deepen your love.
Listen carefully and actively
When you sit down to talk, look each other in the eye and listen very carefully to one another. Don’t interrupt when one person is speaking. Concentrate on what they are saying. Observe their body language, and try to hear their heart. Listen for the purpose of understanding, rather than thinking about what your rebuttal will be. If necessary ask questions or rephrase what your spouse has said to make sure that you have understood.
Think before speaking
Before lashing out with a hurtful response, think carefully about what you really want to say. Sometimes angry emotions can run high and overflow with unkind words and accusations which you may later regret bitterly. And even when you apologise, you spouse may have a hard time getting over those hurtful phrases which can ‘replay’ in the mind to distraction. Rather than being quick to express your frustration and indignation, think in the direction of a solution and what you and your spouse can do to improve the situation.
Focus on ‘I’ statements
If you share the situation from your own perspective you will avoid the blame-game trap which inevitably leads to defensiveness and arguments. Focus on your own feelings with statements such as ‘I feel sad when I don’t hear from you all day’. This is much better than an accusing statement such as ‘you never bother to call or message me.’ After saying how you feel, then you can move on to saying what you would like to see happening. Again, remember to use the ‘I’ statement format. You might want to say something like, ‘I would be so happy if you send me a whatsapp once or twice during the day when you get a chance.’
Apologise for your part
In order for you both to move forward with a clean page after a misunderstanding it may be necessary for one or both of you to make an apology if you are at fault. This takes humility and sincerity. It is important that you only apologize for what you are truly convinced was your fault, and not just for the sake of ‘peace at any price.’ Be specific and state your intention to improve. Using the same example above, the appropriate response may be ‘I apologize for not calling or texting you. I did not realize you felt sad about it. I will try to message you at least once a day from now on.’ Please note, in a healthy relationship both partners are willing to take ownership and apologize for their faults and mistakes. If you find that only one person is always doing all the apologizing, this should be regarded as a red flag.
Show appreciation for each other
Everybody likes to be appreciated, and this is especially true in a marriage. Make a point of noticing the little (and big) things that your spouse does for you every day. Just a simple word of thanks and appreciation can go a long way to lifting the spirits and setting a loving tone in your relationship. When you put on your clean socks every morning, remember who washed them. If your husband does the dishes every evening, don’t forget to thank him. Little notes and gifts are also a great way to express your thankfulness.
Make a study of relationships
There are many great marriage resources available such as good books, websites and blogs. Make a point of doing some personal research on the topics that are of concern in your marriage. Remember there are those who have travelled the road of marriage before you who can help you to learn some valuable lessons, and perhaps save yourself some skinned knees and heartache along the way. So making a study of relationships will help you in your quest to minimize the misunderstandings in your marriage.
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