I was trying to think of a snappy title, something more enticing but the simplicity of that statement (“Sometimes marriage is hard”) is something that a lot of people don’t quite understand.
They don’t understand why marriage is hard at times, what to do when those hard times come, and how to move past the hard times when everything is good again.
I’ve been having some issues offline in my marriage. Nothing too major but just those minor aches and pains that you have when you’re still (even 8 years in) learning each other as part of a couple. Our biggest problem has always been communication. He’s not a talker and I am. As a writer, I love being able to sit down on the couch and just…talk. Throw in some food and that, to me, is a great date night. To my husband, that’s torture. (Well, he’ll enjoy the food.)
But lately, his effort to have meaningful conversations with me just wasn’t enough. I wanted more. But I didn’t know how to say that. So I did my usual beat around the bush approach, to which he stared at me blankly. So I had to be blunt.
“I need you to make more of an effort to respond when I try to have a conversation with you,” I said. “I don’t like when you give me one-word answers, when I feel like I’m pulling sentences out of you, or when you act like you’d rather be anywhere else than having a conversation with me. How does that sound?”
“I’ll work on it,” he said.
Now here’s the hard part: believing that this change will come. I don’t know if I’ve ever been this blunt before, but trust me, it isn’t the first time he’s heard it. We’ve talked about this at length before – trying to communicate through email, through texts, through in-person convos during the first 20 minutes after the kids fall asleep, but somehow none of that seemed to stick. He’s just a quiet guy by nature.
I would let it go, but we’re a family. Communication is key, or so everyone tells me. If we can’t communicate effectively, I don’t even want to know what we’ll look like in 10 years.
So believing that this will happen, that he will work with me on this issue, that my needs will get met—it’s hard for me. Sometimes you don’t feel like showing patience toward your spouse. Sometimes you don’t feel like being nice all the time, considering their feelings, working toward a resolution. Sometimes you just want to be mad because, well, those are your feelings and you have a right to express them.
What I’m learning is that I can choose to be better. I can choose to be patient even when I don’t want to be. I can choose to show kindness to my husband through my words rather than run my mouth (my first instinct). I can leave the room when I feel a verbal explosion coming on. I can choose to take those hard moments and act in a way that shows my husband that I am willing to grow as well when I ask him to grow with me.
How have you grown in your marriage when it comes to the hard periods?