The millennials are perhaps the busiest people on earth nowadays and if there is one thing they are good at, that would be multi-tasking. They can do a 9-to-5 and still take care of their families at night and on weekends.
But to what extent are they actually able to care for their families despite their busy schedule? How is their relationship with their kids? With their spouse? To what extent is their career affecting their marriage?
You are probably a young parent with both family and a career to take care of just like me, whether that career requires you to be at an office for 40 hours a week or a business that you can remotely supervise. Whichever the case, if I ask you to rate the blissfulness of your marriage from 1 to 10, with 10 being unbelievably blissful and 1, well, like a burning house you are dying to get out of, what would it be?
Believe it or not I was in a marriage with a score of about 4 despite the fact that both my husband and I had well-paying jobs in the same company, a comfortable commute to work, one tiny child to take care of, and a company-provided house to return to every single day.
We got stuck in that situation for a while but it didn’t seem to be a problem at all since we each had friends we can tell our troubles to (or have a few beers with after work). It went on for quite some time that we almost believed it was simply the way things are. Well, the people we talked to everyday said it was normal for young married couples to fight. Why fret?
That score of 4 was supposed to improve over time as both partners are expected to mature through their marriage, but ours simply dwindled away and almost hit an awful 1! To cut the long story short, we ended up seeking professional help and going through a series of marriage counseling and family therapy sessions that lasted for almost three years.
That’s when we both found out that it was never okay for couples to fight. Disagree, yes. But fight? Never. And that having a blissful marriage everyday is actually possible.
THE SECRET TO HAVING A BLISSFUL MARRIAGE
How? The recipe is quite simple and it’s no secret at all – healthy communication.
Communication is said to be the lifeblood of a healthy and loving relationship, but we do it everyday we hardly even notice how we do it. The quality of communication we use on a daily basis defines the quality of married life we have in a year or a decade or even a lifetime.
All those years of therapy taught us one simple yet not so easy way of communicating to one’s partner and using language to delicately nurture our marriage one day at a time. A blissful marriage means happy and contented spouses and happy spouses find it easy to nurture a happy home.
HOW TO USE LANGUAGE TO NURTURE YOUR MARRIAGE
The last two weeks were especially hectic for both me and my husband. We had guests to entertain, two very young kids to take care of and some serious responsibilities at work that needed our utmost attention and in this highly stressful situation it was very easy for anyone to break down and snap.
My husband knew better. He has mastered the art of pausing, and taking control over himself. His humility, patience and tenderness have guided me through those weeks and we were able to hurdle through challenges together without turning against each other.
The only down side I guess was the effect stress had on our health. We caught cough and cold. Being the loving husband that he is, he offered to make soup one rainy afternoon so we can both be relieved of stuffy nose and headache.
So there we were in the kitchen, he was cooking while I assisted in mincing herbs, as usual. Somewhere along the process, he made a mistake by adding the wrong seasoning to the broth and when I pointed it out to him he seemed annoyed and said he would throw away the broth and just make another one. The words throw away hit a button in me (most probably a result of past conditioning) that told me it was bad, because you don’t throw away food! And so I said, no, it’s okay, just keep it. The words it’s okay sounded something else to him because it probably reminded him (again, past conditioning) of those days when I used to say “it’s okay” when it actually wasn’t and then I would do something undesirable – this time he probably pictured me not eating his soup even after I said “it’s okay.”
Totally annoyed now, he raised his voice one notch higher and blurted something I didn’t quite expect to come out of his mouth, “Decide what to do, or I’ll throw this broth at you.”
Ouch! Those words hurt more than a scalding pot of boiling broth to my ears. How could he! For a moment there I thought I saw nothing but darkness. Throw what?! I could have easily snapped back at him and stormed out of the kitchen, but I didn’t spend years in therapy for nothing. I had to scramble through my file and look under the heading that say, “How to Respond to an Angry Spouse.”
Silence. I responded with calm and composed silence. I helped him make another broth, and we ate his soup together — in silence. I didn’t have to pretend I was okay because I was not, but I didn’t pick a fight either. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to process my negative emotions and to find the best way to express my pain and restore the peace.
And so at bedtime, while he pretended he hasn’t done anything wrong and tucked the kids to bed, I snuggled next to him in bed and said, “I was really hurt when you said you would throw that broth at me.”
He laughed and pulled me close to him. With his left arm around my shoulder he said, “I know you were. I was also a little disappointed because you would allow me to keep making a soup you wouldn’t eat. You should have told me beforehand which seasoning to use.”
“I thought you knew what you were doing. Still, I think it’s not nice to say you’d throw broth at your wife. I think that’s violence!”
He gave me a quick squeeze and said I could play Fruit Punch on his phone before going to bed (bribery, but it worked. He knew I’d ask to play a few games before bed time).
THE POWER OF “I’ STATEMENTS
Looking back, I could have said the same things in a much different way, but I chose to use “I” statements all the way through and I believe that made all the difference.
Instead of saying, “I was really hurt…” I could have said, “You hurt me with your words at the kitchen today.”
Or, instead of saying, “I thought you knew what you were doing,” I could have said, “You have been cooking for like forever, you should know better.”
Or, “You are very violent with your words,” but instead, I used the words “I think…”
Beginning your statements with an “I” goes to show that you take full responsibility of your feelings and the listener does not feel accused or emotionally threatened at all. People have this natural tendency to switch to defensive mode when threatened and this prevents both parties involved to engage in a peaceful and productive dialogue.
Dialogue, according to John Powell in his book “The Secret of Staying in Love,” is the communication or sharing of emotions; of feelings, and is necessary before couples can engage in a productive discussion of a more intelligent nature, and so before I can show my husband that using violent words violates my values, I had to appeal to his heart first and engage him in a dialogue where we can both express our emotions and detoxify our hearts.
It’s very tempting to always take the easy way out of any sticky situation amidst a very hectic lifestyle, but choosing to carefully formulate your words and nurture a healthy communication line with your spouse is what makes everyday of your married life blissful. At the end of the day, you will find that it’s all worth it.
I hope this message blessed you today. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to share your insights or even your experiences by leaving a comment below. See you next time!