My husband and I have been married for more than 12 years. Over that time, we’ve found some incredible ways to heal old hurts and start anew. Having a good marriage is a skill. We’re not born knowing how to do it and until recently, it was just taken for granted that people should know how to be good at being married.
Fortunately, there are great teachers available to help. It was from one of those teachers that my husband and I learned a valuable tool.
Early in our marriage, we had some expert advice on how to mend our marriage and keep it clean, so to speak. It is really easy to amass a list of complaints and slights with our spouses. We say things in anger or frustration, or we don’t think before we speak, or we act in haste. This is natural. It is not easy to remain perfect and balanced and rational all of the time.
What we learned to counteract these moments of thoughtlessness is simple. We have an agreement to bring up things that upset us in a timely manner. If we don’t deal with something within a day or so, we give up the right to bring it up later.
This takes practice and it works on two levels. The first area that it takes care of is passive aggression. Both spouses are no longer allowed to store up evidence against the other and then blast them about it later. This promotes personal responsibility. I really had to learn to speak up. It was very easy for me to harbor hurt feelings for a long time and then let them fly when I’d had enough.
But with this method, I had to start speaking up. The first thing that I did to help myself was that I would wait until I wasn’t really upset and I approached my husband in a rational way. Most things can be dealt with rationally. It is when I’m upset that I expect my husband to make me feel better and get rid of any vestige of anger that I have, that things don’t work. I’m responsible for my own feelings, not my husband. But I can have a rational discussion with him about things that simply don’t work for me.
Over the next few months, I also gained a great deal of wisdom in dealing with my own emotions. I learned that no one can make me feel better. Even an apology from someone else doesn’t necessarily make me feel better. That is up to me. I gradually began to act more rationally and to be responsible for my changes in mood. I even learned that many times, I was just in a sore mood and it didn’t have anything whatsoever to do with my husband.