with Angella Dykstra
I'm a mom of three, a professional accountant, and an amateur photographer and writer. I am not a marriage expert. But my husband and I take "Til death do us part" seriously, and here I'll be sharing how we keep our marriage strong while we both do that insane work-life juggle.
Check out my Work It, Mom! profile and my blog, Dutch Blitz.
In the five short months between getting engaged and getting married, Matthew and I went to a pre-marital course. The course had its cons (We were paired with a more “mature” couple with whom we had NOTHING IN COMMON WITH).
It had some funny moments (A male friend of ours (Who had never lived away from home) thought that a monthly food budget for two people would run about $100.) (Ha! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)
It also had some good points. Almost nine years later a few of them still come to mind, and are put into play around here. If something is still working nine years later that says that it might have a ring of truth, no?
Here are the key things we still put into effect on a constant basis:
1. Don’t call each other names.
This might be a “Duh” factor, but we have found it helpful. To yell, “You are such a JERK!” is hardly conducive to resolving conflict.
2.”Always” and “Never” are drama words.
Start phrases with, “You always…” or “You never…” is the equivalent to putting the back of your hand to your forehead and crumpling to the ground in a heap. It is a sweeping statement that can hardly be entirely true. He “never” listens to you? She is “always” on the phone? Really?
3. Speak about your own feelings.
If you tell your spouse that they make you feel a certain way, or that it is their fault that you are upset, they might get a little hurt and defensive. Just state the facts. Starting a phrase with “I feel…” is simply telling them how you are feeling and you can go from there.
“I feel like we don’t have enough time to connect” is a much better conversation starter than, “If you didn’t work so much we would have more time to connect”.
Saying something along the lines of, “I feel like it’s your fault that we are not connecting” is not quite the right approach.
4. Ditch the “should”.
To tell someone that they “should” do something will instantaneously get their back up and cause fire to shoot from their eyes. A better way to approach it is to say something along the lines of, “It would make me really happy if you (fill in the blank).
We have made a joke out of it. If one of us uses the term “should”, as in “You should do the dishes more often”, the other one is fully justified in saying, “You should shut up”. Then we laugh. While spraying each other with dish soap.
Many of the tips we have learned over the years and put into play on a regular basis are outlined in this article I read yesterday.
The one point that I have to disagree with is another tip we learned in our pre-marriage course.
Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Stupidest. Rule. EVER.
Instead of staying up until the middle of the night hashing (and re-hashing) an issue, GO TO SLEEP. If you stay up until 3 am in order to “resolve” an issue, you are fighting a losing battle. As the hours wear on, you get more tired, more weary, more emotional. This does not bode well for a resolution.
Say good night. Go to sleep. In the morning, what seemed SO AWFUL, AND HORRIBLE, AND IN NEED OF UNENDING DEBATE will seem…
…a little less intense. Daylight does wonders for the psyche.
That is how we roll. We honestly do not fight very much at all, thanks to being inherently compatible. When issues do arrive, it helps that we do not call each other down, or beat issues to a pulp in the middle of the night.
Do you have any great tips for fighting (Fairly!) (Sans violence!) with your spouse?
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