A solid foundation can help couples handle whatever comes their way.
Our closest friends just got married. My wife and I grabbed dinner with them a few weeks ago, and it reminded me of how fun (and frustrating) being newlyweds can be. Our friends are clearly in a season of re-learning everything they thought they knew about marriage and each other. Seeing this reminded me of just how uncomfortable the first few years of marriage can be and how NORMAL it is for couples to struggle.
So, without further ado, here are 13 tips for newlyweds (gathered from experts, therapists, and research) to help couples navigate the first few years of marriage.
1. Listening is key.
I can’t express enough how crucial healthy communication is. It’s foundational to any relationship. Remember, communication has two parts: speaking and listening. Listening is vital in communication. Become a better listener and tune in to your spouse.
2. You won’t always agree, and that’s ok.
You’re not going to see eye to eye on everything. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. I strongly suggest coming to a mutual agreement on big things like significant purchases, career choices, family size, and holidays. But in small things, it’s ok to disagree.
3. You’re both going to grow.
A wise leader once told me, “You’ll be the same person in five years as you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet.” Basically, what you learn and who you build relationships with will mold who you become. You’re both going to grow. You’ll be different people in five, 10, or even 25 years. Grow together and encourage each other’s growth.
4. You both may see the world differently.
You and your spouse have different life experiences that shape your worldview. My wife and I grew up in different countries and cultures, so we see the world differently. But we try to see the world through each other’s lenses.
Dating keeps you connected. Get creative with your dates. It doesn’t always have to be dinner and a movie. And it doesn’t always have to be in the evening. Schedule dates, put them on the calendar, and prioritize that time together. (Need some date ideas? Check out http://firstthings.org/date.)
7. Make sex a priority.
Just because you’re newlyweds doesn’t mean it’ll come naturally! Talk about it. Schedule it. And do it. Sexual intimacy actually increases the emotional intimacy in your marriage. You both may have different sex drives, and that’s ok. Again, talk about it. Sex is an essential part of your marriage. (Check out our course, MARRIAGE COURSE | Discover Deeper Intimacy In Your Marriage!)
8. Boundaries are crucial.
In-laws, social media, opposite-sex friends, technology, money, friends… the list goes on and on. Boundaries matter, and they aren’t bad. Think of them as guardrails. They’re there to keep you on the road and going in the right direction. Talk about them and establish them together.
9. Conflict will happen.
Your marriage is made up of two imperfect people. Conflict is gonna happen. One of you may see conflict as a sport; the other may avoid it at all costs. You can’t make conflict disappear, but you can learn to manage it in a healthy way.
10. Assume the best about your spouse.
Your spouse may do something that bothers you or hurts you. Don’t assume they did it on purpose. You are both learning about each other. Assume the best and give them grace.
11. Be your spouse’s #1 cheerleader.
Your spouse has goals. Talk about their goals and find ways to support them as they work to achieve them.
12. Be committed.
Your wedding day shouldn’t be the only day you define your commitment. It’s a daily choice that you make known to your spouse.
13. Have fun, and lots of it.
Maybe it’s dancing in the kitchen, playing games, being goofy, or having Nerf gun wars. Whatever it is, make your marriage fun.
The first five years of marriage can be uncomfortable and beautiful all at the same time. Whether you’re a newlywed yourself or you have newly married couples in your life, these 13 tips can go a long way to help newlyweds build a solid foundation for the rest of their lives together.
A successful marriage may require you to adjust what you expect.
How was the wedding?
Did you enjoy the reception?
Were all of your friends and family there to watch you join your life with your true love?
Did you get to go on the honeymoon of your dreams?
Or maybe you are planning it after all of the restrictions are lifted?
Now that the big day is over, real life has set in.
Truthfully, you may find that your newlywed expectations are not being met in your new marriage. It’s just… not what you expected.
Before getting married, everything seemed to be easy. Smooth. Communication was effortless. You seemed to know what each other was thinking without saying anything. But now, you seem to argue over trivial things like no gas in the car or using the last of the coffee beans. Misunderstandings and miscommunication flourish. In your mind, the person you married doesn’t do anything right, from loading the dishwasher, folding the towels, or remembering to set the alarm at night.
I’m gonna share with you like my mother shared with me 27 years ago: Welcome to Married Life.
I don’t mean to be condescending, and neither did she. But, I want you to know that most couples go through a transition, even if you dated for years or lived together before the wedding. Before marriage, we all put our best foot forward, trying to win over/impress/woo our significant other. At the same time, you may have gazed at your true love through rose-colored glasses, not seeing the “real” them. In reality, being your best self and seeing your spouse the same way helps you have a successful marriage.
When I was newly married, I also experienced some disappointment. So I want to share some of the things that helped me get clear about what I wanted from my marriage.
I was focused on the wedding, not the marriage.
As I was preparing for my wedding, my mother said I lost my mind about a month out. My focus was on making that day the best day ever. I wasn’t thinking about what would happen after. Actually, I didn’t even think about the wedding in terms of it being OURS. It was MY dream day.
Then I realized that I was making the marriage about me. Just like I did with the wedding. Our marriage is for both of us. So I needed to include my partner in my thought process.
Once I included my spouse in my thought process, I was able to fix my focus.
Part of my process included recognizing the differences that we had. Realistically, we don’t think, act or react the same way to situations. You may have realized the same thing in your relationship. It’s vital to give your spouse space to be authentically themselves. Your marriage will benefit when you both bring your best to the table.
Communication is essential.
Whether you’ve had a conversation about expectations before the wedding or not, it’s not too late. However, it might be time to reexamine and reevaluate your expectations if you did have that conversation. Expectations are good things to have, but they’ve gotta be realistic, and you’ve got to share them with your partner. You can’t just assume that they have the exact same expectations as you. Marriage is a partnership of two different people headed in the same direction.
I had to admit that I wasn’t always my authentic self at the beginning of our relationship.
Did that happen to you, too? Maybe you ordered a salad on a dinner date rather than the bacon cheeseburger you wanted. Perhaps you participated in activities because they mattered to your significant other, not because you enjoyed the activities. It’s time now to accept that you’ll both change and grow throughout your relationship. Being able to flow with those changes will strengthen your marriage.
I want to encourage you to take the time to recalibrate your relationship as a newlywed. Listen to your spouse’s perspective so you can create realistic, attainable expectations together. Share with your spouse honestly and lovingly that you only want the best for them and your future. Try your best to shift your expectations to reality rather than shift reality to what you personally expect.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Untitled-2-01.png5001200Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2021-07-06 10:11:042021-07-16 12:06:41Newlywed Expectations Not Being Met in Marriage
Marriage is tough, and we all make mistakes. I’ve made some big ones in my marriage. I don’t know what mistake you made or what you did to hurt your wife, but I do know this: You have a chance to save your marriage. Choosing to do so is a huge first step.
I’ve been where you are. By our second year of marriage, I screwed up majorly and hurt the one person who matters more to me than anyone else. But, as I write this, we are celebrating our 17th anniversary. So I offer you hope IF you’re willing to invest the time and energy.
I’d like to tell you there’s a quick fix or three steps to healing a broken marriage, but there’s not. If you are committed to repairing the relationship, and your wife is open to it, all you can do is take it day by day.
Let’s start here. You have to own what you did.
Don’t pass the blame off on anyone else. You made a decision; you did something wrong. Own that. As I said, I made some big mistakes, and I own them. My wife isn’t at fault for my past decisions. I carry the burden of my mistakes, and it can be a heavy burden. But when she sees that you own your mistakes, she may be more willing to forgive you.
Show your wife that you desire to mend the relationship.
This takes effort. She needs to see that you want to make things right. Gifts and flowers won’t heal these wounds. Depending on the gravity of the mistake, there may be a massive break in trust. You have to rebuild it. You have to walk with her hand in hand. She may need space to process. You may need to seek out counseling. Ask her what she needs, not what you can do to make up for your mistake. What is required to heal both of you may take you out of your comfort zone, too. The best step for us was a fresh start. So five and a half years into our marriage, we relocated 1,000 miles from our hometown. The next five years were about reconnecting with each other and reestablishing who we were as a family. During this time, we decided to use our struggles to help other young couples. It may take years to repair the damage that’s been done, but it’s worth the wait. Your relationship can still move forward.
Wounds take time to heal.
Emotional wounds take significantly more time than physical wounds. The deeper the wound, the longer it takes to heal. Stay by her side. She isn’t the only one who needs healing either. The fact that you hurt her enough that you are questioning the security of your marriage means you need time to heal as well. Warning: Guilt is dangerous. Don’t let it consume you. Seek individual help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
And then there’s pride. For us men, it can be challenging to set our pride aside. If you’re honest, pride may have gotten you where you are. You have to humble yourself enough to own what you did. A healthy marriage takes sacrifice and putting each other’s needs first.
Your relationship can survive!
If you’re both willing to work together, you can move beyond this hurt. And you know what? Your relationship will come out stronger. I am still processing and healing from my mistakes. I don’t know that I will ever fully heal. But I do know that my wife has forgiven me. I know I am harder on myself than she is. We are healthier today than we’ve ever been. Our marriage is stronger, and we see our past issues as a way to help other marriages.
You’ve got this. Take it one day at a time. No matter how hard it seems, don’t give up. I’m rooting for you, and I’m here for you!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Untitled-18-01.png5001200Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2021-07-01 14:31:062021-07-16 12:47:12To the Husband Who Hurt His Wife
There may be more to apology than just saying the words.
Let’s face it — these two little words are packed with meaning, depending on the situation.
I’m sorry I screwed up.
I’m sorry you feel that way.
Iam sorry, but it wasn’t my fault.
I’m sorry you’re a jerk.
Apologies matter in marriage. But we know all apologies aren’t equal. It’s not always whether we use the words, but how we use them that makes a difference.
Stuff happens in marriage.
Words get said. Feelings get hurt. Expectations aren’t met. Misunderstandings occur. Responsibilities fall by the wayside. Someone forgets an anniversary.
All the same, these things cause your marital connection to run off the rails. Even with minor instances, you want to get back on track with your spouse. But how do you do that? Well, research tells us apology is one of the most essential tools for reconciliation in the eyes of both the offender and the offended.1
Last night, my wife and I were going to sleep, and she decided to have a little fun. She put her hand up close to my face, thinking I was unaware of it in the dark. Unfortunately, she miscalculated my ninja-like sensibilities. I felt it, reacted on reflex, and accidentally poked her in the eye.
Was it my fault? No, not really. Was it on purpose? Absolutely not. It was a reaction. Did I apologize? Profusely! I would never intentionally harm my wife, and, taken the wrong way, she might think I wasn’t concerned for her well-being. My sincere apology smoothed out the situation. (Her eyesight is fully restored, by the way.)
Of course, there’s more to an apologythan the words. Most of us were taught the formula: Say the words = everything is okay now.
Did you bite your teacher’s ankle again, Mikey? You need to go and apologize…
And for many of us, that formula got passed down to our marriage. Apology as words-only, at the least, is ineffective. And at the most, it does more damage.
Consider these times when you shouldn’t simply say I’m sorry to your spouse:
To simply end the argument because it’s uncomfortable
When you don’t know what you’re apologizing for, but you know you’re being blamed for something again
To get something from your spouse, like an admittance of wrongdoing or a “return-apology”
To manipulate someone into forgiving behavior you fully intend to keep doing
So then, why apologize? Say it with me:
I apologize when I recognize my contributions to ourdisconnect.
Apologizing isn’t always a matter of something that was “right” or “wrong.” Many times it’s simply a matter of contributing to an issue. There’s a difference.
Think of it like this:
When I do something flat-out wrong. (Duh. That’s obvious.)
Even when it was unintentional.
When I didn’t do something morally wrong, but still, I didn’t consider your feelings.
For miscommunication on my part.
Studies tell us that a genuine apology expresses ownership and remorse for something, seeks to empathize with how it affected the other person, and tries to compensate in some way for the offense. 2,3 In short, apology is about restoring the relationship rather than erasing the wrong.
So should you apologize to your spouse for something you didn’t do?
The bigger question is, What were your contributions to the disconnect? And how did that affect your spouse? And what can you do to restore the marital connection?
Talk about it together. Empathize. Consider your contribution. Take ownership of that. See it from your spouse’s point of view. And then ask, Do I need to apologize?
The result? You move further ahead in your relationship than where you were before the disconnect. There is a deeper right than being right.
I’m not going to share what happened with my spouse after the eye-poke incident. (That’s personal – but let’s just say we weren’t sleepy after that.) But I will tell you that what followed would not have happened without a wholehearted apology. Connection restored.
When conflicts are managed well and effective apologies are made, your marriage can come out even better on the other side.4 And that’s nothing to feel sorry about!
1Fehr, R., Gelfand, M. J., & Nag, M. (2010). The Road to Forgiveness: A Meta-Analytic
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Untitled-6-01-2.png5001200Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2021-06-25 10:23:022021-07-16 12:22:34Should You Apologize to Your Spouse for Something You Didn’t Do?
Build intimacy, connect and do life well together.
How’d you get stuck in a sex rut? It’s just life. It’s normal and to be expected. More importantly, how do you get out? You know, fun, passionate, surprising, and playful sex!
Here are some tips to keep sex healthy, hot, and happenin’ in your marriage.
1. Talk About Sex.
This is the gateway right here. Many people just aren’t comfortable talking about sex with their spouse. Create an environment where it’s safe for both of you to be honest and vulnerable about your sexual thoughts and feelings. Easier said than done? Probably.
Here You Go:
Option 1. Make a game out of it. Sexual Truth Or Dare.
Pro-Tip: Keep it positive. No complaining. No judgments. Take turns listening.
2. But What About The Kids?
Isn’t it ironic that you (typically) have kids by having sex, but by having kids, it’s harder to have sex? Again, totally normal, but Kids-In-The-House-Sex: Quick. Muffled. Vanilla. It’s like Splenda. Sure, it’s sweet, but it’s not that pure raw sugar.
Option 1. Hotel Sex. It doesn’t have to be a vacation or your anniversary. It can be because it’s Thursday and you have a babysitter. You don’t even have to go out of town or somewhere nice. Make it part of the family budget. Best money you’ll spend. Repeat a couple of times a year.
Option 2. Stay-At-Home Synchronized Sick Days. Or take vacation days. Go through your typical morning routines and dress for work. Take the kids to school or daycare like a typical weekday. Nothing going on here. Then meet back at the house. Take your time. It’s not all about sex. Talk through some “get to know you” questions. Go for a walk, then shower together. Have a great day of which sex is just a part.
Pro-Tip: Tell your spouse to take such and such day off. (Don’t tell them why. Plan a fun day.)
3. Don’t Have Sex. Yet.
Anticipation is a powerful stimulant.
Wait For It:
Option 1. Agree to have sex in 24 hours. Spend that time flirting. Leaving love letters. Texting what you’re looking forward to doing. Engaging in some non-sexual touch. Teasing. Then, finally, pleasing.
Option 2. Same as above, but 72 hours. (Yup.) Crank up that sexual tension. Enjoy it. Don’t neglect the biggest human sexual organ — the mind. Have some great conversations. Do some fun things together. Strengthen your bond. Talk about your relationship.
Pro-Tip: Put your energy into connecting with your spouse in non-sexual ways. Pressure, or wondering if sex is on the table, is off the table. (But you know it’s coming.) Get emotionally intimate in the meantime. When you do connect sexually, it will be more profound.
Roll the dice, feel something nice. Time limit per roll? Hey, this is your game.
Option 2. (I think you can see how this game lends itself to modification.)
Pro-Tip: Roller with the highest score after 4 rounds gets to “make a request.”
5. Play Doctor.
Sorry, not THAT playing doctor. Have weekly or monthly “check-ups” or “check-ins.” Coming full circle, talking about it is the best way to improve sex and keep it healthy in your marriage. Connecting on levels beyond the physical enhances sex. Connected couples who talk about sex have more satisfying sex lives. Talk honestly about your sexual health. Discuss sexual frequency. Talk about what’s working and what might need to be modified.
Don’t turn to the internet with questions like, “How much sex should couples have?” Turn to your spouse. Sex is best when you don’t just focus on “doing it,” but doing life well together.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/5-Tips-To-Keep-Sex-Healthy-In-Your-Marriage0A-01.png8542048John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2021-06-02 13:53:432021-11-10 14:02:285 Tips To Keep Sex Healthy In Your Marriage
Undivided attention is GOLD in marriage. When you focus on listening and understanding each other, that’s 24-karat magic right there. (Read 3 Ways to Be a Better Listener.)
Remember the important things.
Who hasn’t forgotten a simple social engagement before?
Steps to aProductive Marriage Check-In
Set a Time
Saturday mornings before kids need you and Sunday evenings after kids’ bedtimes are two great times. Put it on your calendar. Set the notifications. If you have to miss it, you can reschedule it right then. Weekly or every other week is a good idea, and 30 minutes is a reasonable length of time. As you get consistent with the check-ins, you may decide to do them monthly.
No kids allowed. No technology except when it’s obviously adding to the value of the meeting, e.g., using your calendar or planning a date and looking up attractions.
You’ll probably have a routine. You may discuss on Saturday mornings over coffee or sit on the couch after the kids are in bed. Occasionally, change it up. Check-in while strolling through the neighborhood or a park, driving around town, or while you’re out for breakfast. Enjoy the environment with the one you love.
Always start by Appreciating Your Spouse
Your spouse will look forward to the check-ins because they know they’ll hear something positive about themselves. Start with something like…
You know what I like about you? I’m gonna tell you. ___________
I liked when you ___________ earlier this week.
I noticed your ___________ yesterday.
When you ____________, I appreciated it. That was helpful.
Thank you for _______________.
Discuss upcoming schedules
Work schedule/changes, community meetings or activities, kids’ events, and social calendar all fall into this category.
Answer the questions:
What’s the cost?
What’s the time commitment?
What needs to be done to prepare?
Are there any conflicts?
If you need to make reservations, sign forms, or contact people, clarify who will do it.
Listen to Your Spouse’s Emotional, Mental, and Physical Needs
Generally, save this for last because it’s the most open-ended. These 3 questions are good starters. And if you use them every time, you may both start thinking about the answers beforehand.
How are you doing and feeling?
How do you feel like we are doing as a couple?
Are there any issues or concerns you’d like us to talk about?
What To Call It
Some of you will call it a Marriage Check-In and be good with that. More adventurous people may want a name with more personality. (Let us know what you come up with!)
Keep in mind: a productive Marriage Check-In isn’t like those never-ending staff meetings, which are a necessary evil. This is with the one you love. It’s a chance to connect, grow, and course-correct so you’ll enjoy your marriage to the fullest.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/flavia-gava-ul6CnGAlQRM-unsplash-scaled.jpg8772048Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-04-29 11:49:092021-08-25 11:41:45Steps to a Productive Marriage Check-In
It starts with a desire to see them happy, at peace, and connected.
What Does It Mean to Put Your Spouse First?
I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. The Puzzled Look on my daughter’s face turned to a smile, and then came the proverbial rolling of the eyes (and that’s a good thing).
Here’s the conversation:
Daughter: You’re really not going to be at our basketball game Saturday? (Said with disbelief.)
Me: Nope. I’m taking my wife (who happens to be your mother) on a marriage retreat.
Daughter: Can’t y’all go anytime?
Me: Doesn’t matter. We’re going this weekend. What you worried about?
Daughter: Nothing. I just… (Shrugs her shoulders.)
Me: If anyone asks where your parents are, just say, “At a marriage retreat acting married.”
Daughter: (Rolls the eyes.)
Me: Don’t worry. We love you, and we hope you play well. But I love that fine-looking queen of mine more.
Daughter: (Walks away smiling, rolling her eyes, and I’m guessing, processing what’s just happened.)
She’s witnessing me putting her mother, a.k.a. my spouse, ahead of her.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PUT YOUR SPOUSE FIRST?
It doesn’t mean that you miss every sporting event, never hang out with friends, or never work overtime. It starts with the heart. And your actions and thoughts will reflect the contents of your heart.
A priority is something we treat or rank as more important. Putting your spouse first above work, children, hobbies, birth family, or other responsibilities means prioritizing your spouse. It doesn’t mean we neglect work, abandon our children or don’t do the things we love. It means that we make sure our spouse knows that we value them more than we value all those other “good” things.
Here are some ways you can demonstrate that you prioritize your spouse.
Ask Before You Make Plans
When making plans and decisions (particularly ones that affect where you spend your time, money, and energy), ask your spouse for their thoughts and opinions. This shows that you don’t want to do things that may negatively affect your spouse or marriage.
Example: Your co-workers are going out for drinks after work. You want to go.
Prioritizing Your Spouse:
Call to tell your spouse the situation.
Ask how they feel about it. “What are your thoughts?”
Ask how it will affect the rest of the day. “Anything happening that this will change?”
Understand that turning down the offer may be the best move for your marriage.
Message Sent: Asking shows your spouse that he or she matters. Their feelings matter. How your decisions or plans affect them matters.
Pay Attention to Your Spouse’s Needs
Your husband’s or wife’s needs come first. That’s where your strongest commitment is. Be aware of how easy it is to want to help everyone else and think your spouse can handle everything themselves.
Example: It’s nearing your kids’ bedtime. They’re fussy, whiny, and being difficult. You’re having a deep, meaningful phone conversation, helping a friend.
Prioritizing Your Spouse:
Tell your friend, “I know this is important, but it’s bedtime, and I need to jump in and help get these kids down. Let me call you back.”
Message Sent: You have your spouse’s back. Even though your friend has a pressing issue, so did your mate. You just demonstrated where your priorities lie. Jumping to help fix everyone’s problem and only helping your spouse when it’s convenient shows they aren’t the priority. We want our spouse to be the first one we support, not the last.
Consider the Impact on Your Spouse
After marriage, your life isn’t just about you. Significant changes affect you both1. Be upfront with your spouse about changes and let them prepare for how it will affect them.
Example: A major project will require you to work overtime and use a lot of mental energy.
Prioritizing Your Spouse:
Address it head-on from the moment you sense this is a major time-consuming project. Tell your spouse about the overtime and potential stress. You might say, “I don’t want you to feel neglected. As soon as it’s over, we can make up for some lost time, if you know what I mean.”
Message Sent: You’ve considered the impact on your spouse and shown some vulnerability. You’ve recognized what you will lose and indicated a desire to gain it back because you’d rather be with your spouse than work all those extra hours.
Couples experience different seasons. You may both have heavy work seasons and superactive kids’ seasons where you feel like taxicabs. Dealing with sick family members can also pull lots of time away.
Putting your spouse first starts with a desire to see them happy, at peace, and connected.
That’s what my daughter took away from us missing her basketball game.
Interestingly, research shows that putting your spouse first provides the security, comfort, and stability that helps children thrive.2 And, when couples put each other first, it sets the stage for a fantastic relationship where each person feels loved, supported, and secure.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pexels-jonathan-borba-6520595-scaled-e1619642351186.jpg8522048Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-04-28 16:39:282022-08-04 12:20:59What Does It Mean to Put Your Spouse First?
Married, yet hiding from your spouse. Such is life when you don’t feel emotional safety in your marriage. There are parts of you, your personality, dreams, feelings, or thoughts, locked inside, unavailable to your spouse. Exposing them puts you at risk for rejection, criticism, or neglect. You don’t wanna live like this anymore. You want the freedom to be your whole self – vulnerable, imperfect, flawed, and all.
So what do you do?
Emotional Safety in Marriage: Take A Look At Yourself
When it comes to emotional safety, there are two people to look at: you and your spouse. Let’s start with the easy person to look at first – you. (I know, it’s easier to look at your spouse, but you know you. You’ve been with you all your life.)
Sometimes we have our own personal barriers to being emotionally safe with others, even in marriage.
The false belief that you and your spouse should always agree
Personal control issues
Past relationship experiences
Without understanding how your past experiences and current mindset may affect your ability to be totally open with someone, these barriers can hold you captive. They can cause you to go into “self-protective mode” anytime you feel challenged or feel vulnerable.
Ask yourself what you may be fearful of.
Talk to a friend or possibly a professional counselor.
Ask your spouse for help.
Be honest with yourself and forgive yourself.
Speak the truth about you to yourself. Your past doesn’t have to determine your future or define you.
Processing what holds you back from feeling emotional safety can strip the past and any insecurities or control issues of their power to sabotage your relationship.
Emotional Safety In Marriage: Take A Look At Your Spouse
Now let’s look at the second person in this equation – your spouse. When they make you feel a lack of emotional safety for you, what do you do?
1. Name what makes you feel a lack of emotional safety.
Be aware of what you feel makes it unsafe. Do you feel talked down to, dismissed, inferior, etc.? It might be worth writing your feelings down before you talk.
2. Create an opportunity to talk.
Set aside a non-threatening time to discuss emotional safety with your spouse. Without attacking or accusing (because you want to be an emotionally safe person, too), ask…
“What does emotional safety in our marriage mean to you?” Obviously, this may not be something your spouse has thought much about. Still, it’s a worthwhile conversation to have. A good follow up question is,
“What causes you to feel emotionally unsafe?” After your spouse shares, share your answers to those questions and go from there.
“What makes you feel safest, most free to be yourself, and willing to be totally transparent or vulnerable?”
“What makes you shut down and go into protection mode?
Listening to each other can help you both understand how to create a safe environment.
Affirm what you like about each other. Remind yourselves why you wanted to marry each other. Take turns sharing the strengths each brings to the marriage. Knowing that your spouse likes you for you increases emotional safety.
You’ve probably heard the golden rule: “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.” It’s also true in marriage. Sometimes others are emotionally unsafe because they need to self-protect. Listen to your spouse. Foster an environment where they can be vulnerable and their full selves.
This is not an issue you’ll address only once. (If so, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.) Come up with code words to communicate when your spouse is doing something to make you feel unsafe. Freely acknowledge if you’re struggling because of your own issues. (Full disclosure:I do this with my wife. Sometimes I can go into conflict-prevention, self-protection mode, where I don’t share my full thoughts and beliefs because I know my spouse will disagree. That’s a “me” issue, not a spouse issue. Acknowledging it helps me name it and work through it.)
Not every spouse will embrace talking about being emotionally safe. At times, contacting a marriage counselor is the best route. If and when you talk about it, be prepared for the rewards of working through marriage challenges; it will build trust, resiliency, and deep commitment. Who doesn’t want that for their marriage?
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/marc-a-sporys-wHaQ4XJ9SgY-unsplash-1-scaled.jpg8922048Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-04-20 13:31:122022-04-25 11:34:29What To Do When Your Marriage Lacks Emotional Safety