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5 Tools for Healthy Communication in Marriage

These skills can take your talk to the next level.

It’s not exactly news that healthy communication is the foundation of a happy and satisfying marriage. But let’s be honest: As you interact with the one you love the most, it’s easy to let healthy communication habits slip. 

Marital communication is a skill. And like any other skill, you can learn and constantly improve upon it. Fortunately, it’s not super complex. Using a few good tools can keep communication heading in a healthy direction. 

Here are a few communication tools you can try today: 

1. Precision Timing 

You probably know the frustration of trying to talk when one of you is in the middle of something (like a chore, or the game, or a nap). 

Asking, Is this a good time (to ask a question or to tell you about such-and-such), cuts down on a ton of frustration and gives attention to your communication. 

And if the time is not right, a better time needs to be scheduled. Let me finish this one thing, and then I’m all ears. Or, Can we wait until halftime, and then I’d love to hear about such-and-such? These are words that show respect and foster good communication. 

One caveat: If your spouse urgently needs your attention, do what you can to drop what you’re doing and listen. They obviously have a need that takes priority over what you may be doing.

2. Laser Focus

Whether you’re speaking or listening to your spouse, eliminate distractions. Cut out the static as you tune in to them. Turn off the phone or the game. Send the kids to their rooms. Face your spouse and make eye contact. Listen as if they’re the only thing that matters at that moment. (Because, really, they are!)

3. Crystal Clarity

A stellar rule of thumb: Clarify, ask for clarification, and re-clarify. So what I’m hearing you say is… That must make you feel like… Am I understanding you correctly when I hear you say you need… 

Make your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs as clear as possible. This is what I need right now… I’m feeling very strongly about… I’m thinking this, but I’m not sure I have it all thought out…  

Be patient with your spouse as they try to understand; they aren’t you. It might take a fair amount of re-clarifying before you feel understood. That’s ok; the value of communication is in this process. 

4. Controlled Tone

We often communicate much more through our vocal tone than actual words. Confusion happens when our words don’t match our tone. 

It’s Fine. I’m Fine. Everything is just FINE! 

This often indicates that our tone is truer to our feelings than the words coming out of our mouths. 

Awareness is key. 

Be clear in communicating your needs, and temper your tone to express those needs in a healthy way. 

Sometimes, you get a more-desired response from your spouse using a calmer tone of voice rather than “letting it fly” just to be sure they know exactly how you feel. Perhaps emotions tend to get the best of you in a heated conversation. If so, it might be best to drop back and process your emotions first before you approach your spouse. 

5. The Magic Question. 

You probably know listening is critical. But understanding why your spouse wants you to listen is the golden ticket to excellent communication. 

The Magic Question can help you understand exactly what your spouse wants from you. Here it is: 

Is this something you’d like me to help you find a solution for, or would you like me to simply listen and understand? 

It’s amazing what using a few good communication tools can do for your marriage. And you can easily implement any of these tools today. Give one or two of these a try this week. It’ll make a difference!  

Source:

Vazhappilly, J. J., & Reyes, M. E. S. (2018). Efficacy of Emotion-Focused Couples Communication Program for Enhancing Couples’ Communication and Marital Satisfaction 

Other blogs:

How to Validate Your Spouse’s Feelings

The Art of Communication

The #1 Thing That Can Secretly Ruin Your Marriage

5 Ways to Tell If You’re a Passive-Aggressive Spouse

Taking the time to self-reflect can help you find out.

Has your spouse accused you of being passive-aggressive? Maybe they say you’re manipulative. Maybe they tell you that you never speak your mind. Sometimes it may seem like you’ve gained the upper hand in disagreements, but it still feels like the relationship never wins. Are you passive-aggressive or being falsely accused? Well, let’s look at a few ways to shed more light on whether you’re passive-aggressive or not.

What is passive-aggressive behavior?

Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D says, “Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them.1 

Think of it this way: You’re expressing your negative feelings aggressively, negatively. Often, this asserts your control, power, or desire to punish your spouse. However, it’s done passively or indirectly. If you’re not directly naming it, your spouse may not be sure what the real issue is. 

Aggressive doesn’t necessarily mean loud, forceful, or demonstrative. But it is often intentional and pointed directly toward your spouse.

Different Levels of Passive-Aggressiveness

1. Passive-Aggressive Moments.

Many people have moments of passive-aggressiveness. Sometimes, you just don’t have the emotional energy to deal with a conflict, so you use passive-aggressive behavior to keep control of the issue. You may not demonstrate this behavior often, but every now and then, you might pull it out of your bag of tricks. You probably know it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but the alternative at the moment isn’t worth it. 

2. Passive-Aggressive Habits.

Being passive-aggressive is your primary way of addressing issues with your spouse. You may even find it hard to initiate a conversation about an issue head-on. You may have become “effective” at passive-aggressive behavior. It seems to get you what you want.

3. Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association defines this as a “pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations.” 2,3 This person feels impossible to tackle conflict with. Their passive-aggressive nature spreads throughout every part of their life.

What does passive-aggressive behavior look like? 

Here are some ways being passive-aggressive may play out.

1. Sarcastic, snarky comments.

On its own, the comment you make may sound like a compliment. But the context is clearly meant to be negative. You and your spouse haven’t had a real conversation in weeks, but you hear your spouse chopping it up with one of their friends. You say, “You two sure do have a lot to talk about.” On its own, it seems innocent. Perhaps you’re hoping they feel the sharpness of your emotions. You feel neglected, maybe a bit jealous. However, instead of coming out and saying what you feel, you make a sarcastic remark.

2. Half-doing tasks.

Your spouse’s schedule has changed, and they aren’t doing things around the house, leaving it to you. You resent their schedule change, or you feel like they’re taking you for granted. Instead of bringing it up, you half-heartedly do the tasks like yard work, laundry, or cleaning. It’s obviously not up to standard. You’re trying to prove a point.

3. Silence or distance. (I struggle with this one.)

You gain control by not talking about anything of substance. Your conversations become surface-level or just about facts. Nothing personal or vulnerable. You build a wall between you and your spouse. You’re expressing your anger, resentment, displeasure, etc., through silence. This gives you control of the situation or at least makes you feel like you’re in control.

4. Agreeing, but not really agreeing.

Your spouse wants to go to the in-laws, but you don’t want to go. Your spouse knows you don’t want to go, and you can’t even believe they’ve asked you to come along. Instead of sharing your true desire, you agree to go not out of compassion or being a team player but out of resentment. You’re upset because they should know that you’re not ok with going.

5. Ignoring, putting off, or procrastinating.

Your spouse has asked you to do something. Your negative feelings toward your spouse may have nothing to do with what they’ve asked. However, you choose to express your negative emotions by continually putting off their request while never sharing the real reason.

Signs You May Be Passive-Aggressive… Self-Reflection Questions

While you self-reflect, consider…

  1. How do you address conflict in your marriage? Do you clearly communicate your thoughts, emotions, and desires, or do you drop hints? Do you exhibit any of the previously mentioned behaviors? Is ist possbile that you simply avoid conflict while sending sharp signals that there is conflict? 
  2. Do you have negative thoughts about your spouse that motivate how you respond to them? How do they know those thoughts? Or do they? Is it possible you have built-up anger or resentment that comes out through simple requests?
  3. Do you usually control the when and where you deal with marital problems? You may be using passive-aggressive behavior to control or manipulate your spouse instead of working together.

Understanding how you deal with issues in your marriage can help your marriage thrive through difficult times.

If you come to the conclusion that you are a passive-aggressive spouse, that’s progress! Even if you don’t, this can open up meaningful conversations with your spouse to figure out how to handle conflict well in your marriage. The ultimate goal here isn’t about pointing out faults; it’s about transforming conflict in your marriage into building blocks for intimacy. Becoming a better version of yourself in that process is a strong byproduct I’ll take any day. 

How to End Passive Aggressive Behavior in Marriage

How To Improve Bad Communication In Marriage

The #1 Thing That Can Secretly Ruin Your Marriage

Sources:

1What is Passive Aggressive Behavior? What Are Some of the Signs?

2 The Construct of Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder

3 How to Recognize and Handle Passive-Aggressive Behavior

13 Tips for Newlyweds

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.

5. Always be intentional with each other.

Successful couples are intentional. They prioritize each other’s needs. Be intentional about putting your spouse first.

6. Keep dating.

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.

Sources:

23 Good Pieces of Marriage Advice All Couples Need to Read

Why the First Year of Marriage is So Hard

Keeping Marriages Healthy, and Why It’s So Difficult

The Research on Stress and Happy Marriages

What Introverts Married to Extroverts Need to Know

Knowing who you are individually and together can make you stronger.

We’re all wired differently, and the differences are never more evident than in marriage. While navigating differences in relationships can present challenges, you’ll go deeper as your relationship grows and you become a student of your spouse. Couples often encounter differences when one spouse is introverted and the other is extroverted. This can be a pretty noticeable difference based on the individual’s personality, but these types are often misunderstood. Let’s dive a little deeper into understanding them.

What’s the difference between introversion and extroversion?

The common perception of the difference between these two is that one is shy and the other is outgoing. While that can be true, it isn’t the rule. Psychologist Carl Jung (the father of this whole conversation) classified the two groups based on where they find their energy. Extroverts are energized by the external world. Introverts are energized by alone time. 

So, are they polar opposites?

Jung discovered that people aren’t necessarily one or the other. Instead, look at it as a spectrum. There can be varying degrees of introversion and extroversion. My wife and I fall on different points of this spectrum. And it can fluctuate.

What does an introvert married to an extrovert need to know? 

There are differences in how these two are wired. So, for the introverts out there, here are some things you need to know and some tips to help you navigate your differences:

Navigating social settings.

As we discovered earlier, extroverts are energized by the external world. They are often the life of the party, and they love it. They live to meet new people and experience new places. “Stranger” is a foreign word to them. 

For the introverted spouse who likes to be alone, this can be a struggle. If they do go out in the crowd, they often want to be out of the spotlight. But if you know that your spouse is energized by being around others, you should talk about this. It’s not fair to prevent them from being in social settings, but it’s also unfair to always send them alone. It’s possible to find a balance that meets your needs and your spouse’s needs while strengthening your relationship.

Talking about their problems.

Extroverts usually find it easy to talk out their problems with others. They’re often more than willing to express their feelings, thoughts, and issues. 

On the other hand, introverts tend to internalize and think through things. They dislike conflict and will withhold their thoughts to avoid confrontation. For the health of your marriage, it’s essential to talk through issues and manage conflict together. Introverts may need to step out of their comfort zone and discuss issues with their spouse. They don’t have to talk to all their friends about it, but need to express it to their significant other. Remember, if you don’t discuss problems with your extroverted spouse, they will find someone to discuss them with. And the best place for marriage work to be done is in the marriage. (Read https://firstthings.org/should-you-tell-your-friends-and-family-about-your-marital-problems/.)

Taking risks.

Extroverts aren’t afraid of risk. They may be more apt to engage in risky behavior than an introvert. Some studies have shown that they are wired this way. Their brain rewards them when risks go well. One study found that risk-takers are rewarded with dopamine, a “feel good” chemical associated with pleasure and reward. So for extroverts, risk-taking brings about a rewarding sensation. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Introverts are more inclined to weigh the pros and cons of any risk. Whether diving into the stock market or diving out of an airplane, they think it through and process it. Their extroverted spouse just jumps. The introverted spouse needs to express their desire to process to their spouse. You can’t hold them back from taking the risk, but you can be their cheerleader, so look for opportunities to support healthy risk-taking. Remember, they are wired to have a natural desire to take risks.

These are just a few ways that introverts and extroverts differ. Remember, this is a spectrum, and you both may find yourselves at varying degrees on that spectrum. But most importantly, you need to recognize who you are, who they are, and who you are together. Marriage is about learning from each other and growing together. Be who you are and encourage your spouse in who they are. 

Sources: 

Neurobiology of the Structure of Personality: Dopamine, Facilitation of Incentive Motivation, and Extraversion

How Does Dopamine Effect the Body?

Extroverts, Introverts, and Everything in Between

Are You An Extrovert? Here’s How to Tell.

Tips for Extroverts Married to Introverts

These tricks can help you understand and appreciate each other!

I’m sure you want to understand and appreciate your spouse, and it can be hard sometimes. But I’m here to tell you: When extroverts are married to introverts, it can be a good thing — a great thing, even! You just have to figure a few things out and appreciate your differences.

My spouse and I are the epitome of the saying “opposites attract.” I’m an extrovert. He’s an introvert. Throughout our 27 years of marriage, I’ve become more extroverted. In contrast, he’s become more introverted. We’ve worked through and understood these differences by now, but it wasn’t easy at the beginning of our relationship. (Read What To Do When You And Your Spouse Are Really Opposites.)

We had conflicts and disagreements as a result. As an extrovert, I tended to be more talkative and demanding, which caused him to retreat. That led to frustration because I wanted him to be like me. But he’s not, and that’s ok!

Once I realized there was nothing wrong with him being who he is (an introvert), we could have productive conversations. In turn, he shared some things he wanted me to know about him, so I’ve got some tips to share. Navigating through our differences to reach the point of understanding was a good thing for us. 

How did we get there? 

We finally realized that the difference between introverts and extroverts is how each gains and uses emotional energy. We also recognized that being introverted or extroverted is not cut-and-dried. Instead, it’s on a continuum from extroversion to introversion. There are extreme extroverts, extreme introverts, introverted extroverts, extroverted introverts, and other combinations. 

If you are an extrovert married to an introvert, here are some things they probably wish you knew.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean they don’t like people.

As an introvert, your spouse does like people, but being around them requires them to use a lot of emotional energy. To restore themselves, they need time alone. Recognizing that they have limits on the amount of time they spend with others and the number of people they want to be around can help you understand them better.

Have a set game plan.

Whether you’re planning a dinner party for friends or want to attend the retirement party for your supervisor, talk about it with your spouse. Consider things like date, time, location, and the number of people. Once plans have been set, try not to change them at the last minute. Once you’ve shared the game plan, have an honest conversation about what you both expect. This will help you both mentally prepare for the interaction.

Accept, and don’t judge them.

If you’re at a social gathering, your introverted spouse may want to be near you. They may need your presence as support. While you want to “work the room,” realize that may be uncomfortable for them. Give them understanding, not judgment. Telling them they are anti-social or standoffish is not helpful.  

They need alone time.

After spending time with people, your spouse will need time to recharge. While you may be over the moon about spending time with people (and energized afterward), being around people can cause stress in your spouse. Solitude gives them the time and space to regain their equilibrium. They’re not trying to reject you or distance themselves from you. You can help your spouse out by creating an atmosphere that provides the solitude they enjoy. For example, try drawing a bath, placing candles around the tub, or making their favorite drink and leaving it near their favorite chair. This can demonstrate that you see, respect, and appreciate what it took for them to go with you to the outing. 

No matter what you prefer, it’s vital to know and understand how your spouse feels and responds to social events. Find ways to assist and support them. Things like standing near them, holding hands, or checking in from time to time to make sure they’re ok. Be aware of the signs that they have reached their limit. There’s a delicate tightrope between your comfort level and your spouse’s, but it leads to a great place. Remember, the more you understand your spouse, the more you can love, serve and give them what they need.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-introverts-corner/201509/5-essential-tips-introvert-extrovert-couples

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/introversion

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/extroversion

How to Help Your Spouse With Post-Pandemic Anxiety

Here are two important things you can do right now.

Let me state the obvious and say it’s been a rough year or so. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, reality has come the closest it’s ever been to a sci-fi novel. And it’s literally messed with our heads. Society as a whole experienced a significant uptick in relationship and mental health issues. 

And let me just speak for us all when I say thank goodness we seem to be on the downswing of it all. (Of course, we’re not entirely over the hill — many are still dealing with health concerns.

Despite this downswing, fear and anxiety are still lingering in the air. Many are experiencing what scientists call “post-pandemic anxiety syndrome.” It’s a condition marked by continual worry about re-entering life in the post-pandemic era. 

Signs1 of this syndrome tend to mimic other mental health issues like anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome. They include: 

  • Increased stress
  • Excessive worry
  • Difficulty returning to a full engagement with society
  • Avoiding work or social interactions
  • Constantly checking symptoms despite not being in a high-risk scenario
  • Perceived threats that aren’t necessarily there

Some of these symptoms are pretty normal after a global pandemic. Most of us experienced at least one of these at some time or another. But for those who cope in a healthy way, these signs should gradually taper off. 

However, symptoms that persist or get worse might indicate a bigger problem. 

So how do you help your spouse with post-pandemic anxiety? 

There are two important things you can do right now.

1. Exercise a great deal of empathy and understanding. 

You may not have the same anxiety your spouse does. You may even wonder what all the fuss is about. But it will help if you understand that’s not their reality. 

Consider this: We now know that our brain can train itself to think toward a certain way over time.2  

We’ve had over a year for our brains to adjust to new and sudden precautions, rules of social distancing, and risk management during extreme uncertainty. That’s stressful. 

And now, we’re experiencing an almost equally instantaneous shift back to pre-pandemic life. For many, that’s stress multiplied

Knowing this, put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Let him or her know you’re there, walking with them through this. Allow them to vent and share feelings, no matter how irrational it sounds to you. 

Anxiety isn’t something that can just be quickly “fixed.” It’s a process that takes time. So you’ll have to be patient

2. Encourage your spouse to seek out a professional counselor that works well with them. 

A counselor can provide useful coping tools and help your spouse monitor their progress. It may even be a good idea to attend counseling together because anxiety affects your marriage3,4. You may also need to learn new skills to support your spouse. Couples therapy is very effective for treating a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety5.

Your number one goal in marriage is to show unconditional love and support for your spouse, for better or worse. And that takes a great deal of understanding. You may not know the particular skills they need to cope and overcome the anxiety, and that’s okay. (That’s one reason a professional counselor is so important.) But the greatest presence they have is you. Let them know you’re on their side and you’re not going anywhere. Post-pandemic anxiety is real, and it’s scary for those going through it, but it’s no match for the support and understanding you can give your spouse. 

Sources:

1Nikčević, A. V., & Spada, M. M. (2020). The COVID-19 anxiety syndrome scale: Development and psychometric properties. Psychiatry Research, 292, 113322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113322 

2Hunter, R. G., & McEwen, B. S. (2013). Stress and anxiety across the lifespan: structural plasticity and epigenetic regulation. Epigenomics, 5(2), 177–194. https://doi.org/10.2217/epi.13.8

3Zaider, T. I., Heimberg, R. G., & Iida, M. (2010). Anxiety disorders and intimate relationships: a study of daily processes in couples. Journal of abnormal psychology, 119(1), 163–173. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018473 

4Darcy, K., Davila, J., & Beck, J. G. (2005). Is Social Anxiety Associated With Both Interpersonal Avoidance and Interpersonal Dependence? Cognitive Therapy and Research, 29(2), 171–186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-005-3163-4

5Lebow, J. L., Chambers, A. L., Christensen, A., & Johnson, S. M. (2012). Research on the Treatment of Couple Distress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 145-68. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.utc.edu/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00249.x 

Newlywed Expectations Not Being Met in Marriage

A successful marriage may require you to adjust what you expect.

Dear Newlywed,

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. 

Other helpful blogs:

What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

The Difference Between Realistic and Unrealistic Expectations in Marriage

Do You Have Realistic Expectations for Your Marriage?

How to Communicate Better With Your Spouse