If only marriage did not contain verbal baggage. You know, all of those stupid things that spouses spout off to one another, rooted from often baseless and petty complaints that seem to arise directly from the sand dunes of stress and familial frustration. Here are just two of the most popular!
What exactly, did you do all day?’ Said from an irritated husband upon coming home to find his stay at home wife, helpless and haggard among a mound of laundry (and a messy house) AND two toddlers’. Or
‘well, you’re NEVER home!’ Said from a sassy wife to her husband who is out ‘bringing home the bacon’ day in and day out so the kids don’t have to go to daycare.
And sadly, there are tons more. In fact, one aspect of marriage that many people don’t tell you about is how quickly an ordinary conversation can turn malicious and mean, judgmental and critical – within moments. Why? Well, quite simply, because the easiest person to blame for anything and everything that goes wrong in your family circle is your spouse. Plus, who else aside from someone who stood next to you at an alter, will put up with your schizophrenic mood swings and allow you to blow off steam in the form of snarky comments? No one! That’s who.
At some point though, you have to wonder what sort of affect these, ‘did you really just say that,’ moments have on the marriage. In the course of marriage, couples normally silently decide that they aren’t going to argue or bicker their way through every aspect of living together to forge the perfect marriage. And most folks, also decide and recognize that learning to live with one another’s differences and idiosyncrasies is easier than constantly nagging and being annoyed with one another. Yet, the passive aggressive moments of resentment still trickle like a leaky faucet and end up being verbalized as randomly hosed slams against one another. Are YOU listening?
Marriage counselors agree that often, the editorial like critique from a spouse about the lack of sex, the lack of cleanliness in the house, leaving underwear on a chair in the bedroom or other silly little things are truly worth paying attention to. Most couples dare say in a heated moment the things that are really bothering them. And surprisingly, these well-directed stabs aren’t often about something bigger looming over the surface. They are in fact, the truth. Yes, it really bothers your spouse that you never pick up your underwear and yes, it really upsets your spouse that the house is suffering from clutter overload. But the good news is that they still love you.
Every person brings to marriage different expectations of how to live and how to live well. There is absolutely no perfect way to perfectly mesh these ideals, and yet in a world with much bigger things going on than whose method (about everything) is right the little things still matter in a marriage. So if your spouse is being, what you feel is over critical, and perhaps rude about their complaints you might want to listen to what he or she is saying and try to compromise. If you give a little in his or her direction, he or she will give a little in yours. When it’s all said and done, it’s about balance.
it’s also extremely important in relationships, especially close ones not to use your spouse as a sounding board. Choose to verbalize your complaints and have your opinions known when you aren’t feeling overly stressed and aren’t in the midst of a heated debate about whether the toilet seat should go up or down. This way, your words won’t be so hurtful and will likely be heard much more clearly.
Of course, every relationship that involves rings and childbirth also comes with a healthy dose of competition and feeling righteous about who does more around the house. Hashing out these differences and seeing the marriage as a partnership, which means that surviving at work AND in a home with children, are equally impressive and important acts. And remembering that you still have sex, regardless of who initiates it can go miles for making things amicable. In other words, your partner’s shoes are no easier to fill than yours are. Different, yes. But easier, no!
Next time your partner says something that feels a little too sticky call him or her OUT on it. Be assertive and say, ‘did you really mean to stab the knife in my back and twist, or are you just a little annoyed right now?’ When you call your spouse on these ‘oh my goodness, you just said that OUT LOUD’ statements, you can quickly bring him or her back to mindfulness and force them to be responsible for what he or she says. Plus, you will have a moment to actually ‘discuss’ the comment and see what can be done to fix things, rather than settle in to stewing about it for days on end wondering what your spouse really meant! If your spouse is really mad that you leave your shoes in a mad mess in the bottom of the closet then just maybe, you can try harder not to. And hey, maybe in return they will correct one of their most annoying habits as well.
Look, life is short. In marriage and family, it is ALWAYS better to stay on top of things and try to keep communication clear and up front, so you don’t waste time being mad about petty things. Try to remember of course, that BOTH of you are doing YOUR PERSONAL best to make things work. And while your approaches may be different, standing together will make you much stronger than tearing each other up with verbal bullets will.