You've gone through the planning. The wedding was the event of the century. You were the belle of the ball and the honeymoon was the perfect finale to the grand event. Within a matter of weeks or months, you suddenly might find yourself wondering who this person is that you married. Their mannerisms that you found cute before the wedding now seems so annoying. You might have thought she or he would change after the wedding or would automatically cater to your wants and needs.
This is extremely common for newlyweds. Many couples never really sit down and talk about their needs, wants and expectations from their relationship. For some, there is a stigma around talking about your needs, as this feels selfish. For others, there is a belief that their spouse should know what their needs are, “because they love me.”
Due to these misconceptions, communication begins to break down and arguments ensue, resulting in resentment. You can minimize the tension in your relationship by following the “3 C's”:
It's important to realize that your commitment doesn't stop with saying “I do” at the altar. You and your partner have made a vow, “until death do you part.” But what does that really mean? Well, that is going to vary from couple to couple. If you didn't discuss this before your wedding, there's no time like the present.
oWhat do each of you need from the relationship?
oWhat do you expect of yourself as a wife/husband?
oWhat do you expect of your spouse/partner?
oWhat expectation(s) do(es) your spouse have of you that you're able/willing to meet?
oWhat expectation(s) do(es) your spouse have of you that you're unable/unwilling to meet?
By understanding your own expectations and those of your spouse, you will be able to work together towards making a stronger union. Also recognize that your needs may change throughout the course of your relationship. It's safe to say that your partner will also have changes. Checking in periodically when you sense changes or stagnations throughout your relationship can help renew your commitment and discuss any changes you're noticing.
Other activities you can do to make your relationship stronger are:
oPlan time together every night to reconnect.
oPlan an outing for the 2 of you at least once a month.
oIf you have children, plan an outing for just the 2 of you every couple of months.
This probably seems to be the most obvious of the “3 C's,” but if it is so obvious, then why are so many couples arguing? Why does it feel like the same argument occurs over and over again without any resolution? Communication is the most obvious of the secrets for a good marriage, but it doesn't mean it's the easiest to overcome.
Communication is an art. The art of listening, the art of hearing, the art of understanding. Listening doesn't just mean the words alone. It means paying attention to your partner (listening), getting the message of what they are trying to convey (hearing) and being able to respond in a way that lets them know you got the message (understanding). If this isn't going on between the 2 of you, arguments erupt and resentment may result.
So how do we listen, hear and understand?
oDo not interrupt when your partner is speaking.
oPay attention not only to what but (more importantly) what they're saying, how they're saying it, their voice, eyes, speech patterns.
oOnce they are finished, summarize what they said. Find out if what they said matches with what you've heard.
oIf not, let them clarify their meaning of their statement again. Clarify again and continue this until everything matches.
oOnce you've heard the message, now acknowledge their message and respond with your own.
While there are many more steps towards good communication, this will provide you with a basic idea of where to begin. Remember, disagreements are natural in any relationship. Good communication provides you an opportunity to express your opinions, ideas and beliefs openly without feeling like you have to compromise your core beliefs, thus leading to resentment, which can be harmful to any good relationship.
Recognize that you are 2 different people. You have grown up in different cultures, with different experiences and beliefs. It's these differences that drew you to one another. If you shared every thought and belief, your relationship would be boring, almost as if you were clones of one another. It's okay to have differences of opinions as well. These opinions may result in a conflict. If you can learn to compromise, then the conflict can be resolved without feeling like either one of you are always, “giving in.”
So, how do we compromise?
oRecognize that no one has to be right or wrong.
oEach person take turns in talking. Don't talk over each other.
oLook at the issue from all angles.
oWrite down all the pros/cons of the issue.
oLook at possible areas where each of you are willing to give without resentment.
oIf you cannot come up with an agreement at that time, agree to put it aside with an agreement that the issue will be readdressed. If need be, set an actual time so both of you will know when you can discuss it again.
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