Ohhh, he makes me so mad! Just once I wish he would listen to me!‘ How many times have you heard this from your best friend? She calls you up on a Friday night to complain about all the ridiculous things her husband does. As you listen on the phone, you wonder to yourself why she doesn’t do a thing about it and why she is always complaining to you but then acting as if everything is hunky dory when her husband is around. Your advice is the same as it always is ‘speak your mind!’ Yet your friend, you and just about every other married person who is past the five-year mark has trouble doing just that. Okay, well not all married people but a large percentage of men and women do not spend enough time speaking their minds to their spouses. The curious thing is, why not? After all, we are taught from the very beginning and it is reiterated in every marital bliss book ever written that communication is the key to successful marriages so why are so many people failing to do just that?
The answers are pretty clear. Speaking your mind to your spouse is not always as easy as it should be. Most of us know that if we were always saying exactly what is on our minds we would spend more nights in separate beds than anything else. So, it’s easier to whine and complain, bitching to our friends and co-workers than it is to say these things to our spouses. Partly because to our friends, we can skip the parts that make us look the bad guy in the relationship. We talk to other people, speaking our minds with eloquent wild abandon because even though they may think we are completely stupid, we hope that they will agree, and side with us. Our partners would not. The other reason spouses don’t always just speak their mind, is because normally the things people argue or fight over are unsolvable regressions in the relationship that come from two completely different mind sets. Call it Mars and Venus if you wish but men and women rarely see things as the same.
The other thing to consider is that while it is customary to take out our frustrations on the people we love the most; most of us are smart enough to realize that doing so daily could potentially be fatal medicine to an otherwise healthy relationship. In other words, our partner may bring out the worst in us, but we still don’t want to consistently and constantly show that side. Couples learn over time what the hot button issues are in their relationship as well. If you find yourself arguing or feeling annoyed over the same things and you have spoken your mind to your spouse a trillion times before with no change, to continue to do so becomes pointless. While it may feel as if your feelings are being ignored because of the obvious disregard, speaking your mind to spouse often comes down to choosing your battles. If you have three hours a week to spend together, you don’t want to use that time battling over chores and whose turn it is to walk the dog.
Why You Should Speak your Mind
There are good things that can come from speaking your mind. The key is knowing exactly how to do so without coming across like a raving lunatic. If you freak out, start yelling and acting accusatory or disgusted by something you will most likely be met with a defensive wall. Rather than hearing what you are saying, they will hear how you are saying it and will immediately feel disrespected. It’s sad but the delivery of your thoughts is probably more important than anything. By the same token, weeping and crying to get your point across is manipulative and unattractive no matter how far into marriage you are. Instead, you should use powerful words like I think, I feel, I need that clearly put you in charge of your comments and refrain from being accusatory. If you feel something, then it cannot really be disputed because it is emotional. This doesn’t mean that your spouse will automatically agree with you, but they will be less likely to resort to passive aggressive techniques, eye rolling, or indifference.
Communicating with your spouse is important. However, many couples become worried or overwhelmed by the fact that they aren’t communicating enough. Not everything in your relationship has to be talked to death. You have to understand that some things- your silly quirks and his silly habits, have to just be accepted as part of the game plan. There has to be freedom and independence in marriage that allows each of you to remain an individual. This may mean you have to put up with some pretty silly stuff that you may feel strongly about but that remains non-negotiable. As long as it is isn’t detrimental, illegal or otherwise negative, you should let it go rather than hold onto grudges, anger or feel the need to beat a dead horse with your communicative efforts. Men don’t feel the need to talk as much as women, and often they will decide that their actions like coming home every night, rubbing your feet, allowing you to hog all the pillows speaks volumes about your relationship.
If you must speak your mind to your spouse about something that is bothering you, run it by your best friends first. See what they think and ask for their honest opinion about what you should do. If they are married, you may find that what you are feeling is just part of marriage. This isn’t to indicate that you should ignore issues, especially if they are bothersome. Still, you need to let go of the picture perfect ideal of marriage that exists only in your head. You should speak your mind with honesty that is void of anger and do so with a clear intention to find a solution rather than just vent. Venting with no real direction to heal is self serving and damaging to a relationship. Rather than speak your mind in the middle of your feelings, do so when you are calm and have had time to work through your words and feelings. If you own what you say and deliver the message with integrity and respect, you will definitely be met in the middle. In marriage, middle ground is one of the very best places to remain.