LIFE IN BALANCE-Staying Married Part 3Adeshola Ezeokoli
Continuing on with this series on staying married, I would like to address two other issues, growing apart and communication.
Grow together, not apart:
Here is a another one. As time goes by you and your spouse are not supposed to be going off on different trajectories. You get busier as you get older, and if care is not taken, a couple can grow apart as they pursue two completely different lives. There are different reasons why people grow apart. Travel, jobs, “busyness”, offenses, taking your partner for granted; frustrations, children, and the list goes on.
Underlying all of this however, is the fact that both parties have not given priority to the growth of their marriage and what happens to it. This could be from a lack of knowledge or stubbornness.
You marriage comes before your job(this goes for men too) , your kids, you travels, your selfishness and your frustrations. You should evaluate your marriage, together with your spouse, as you come up with ways to avoid growing apart. Develop shared interests and take an interest in your spouse’s interest. You do not have to learn to play golf if your husband likes golf, but you should try and watch the games, and go to a few games with him. If your wife is into cars, go to auto shows together. If one partner is “outdoorsy” and the other is “indoorsy” time should be planned to take account of the divergent interests.
It is a good idea also to have a mutual hobby that is neither here nor there for both parties. It could be salsa dancing, antiquing, a sport, anything that will give you something to bond over.
Set times apart as talking times where you can have a no-holds-barred conversation about the state of your marriage. You should be building bridges, not walls.
A few key things to remember in communication are:
You have to say it: Don’t drop hints and think that it is enough. Don’t give your spouse the cold shoulder or silent treatment. That is NOT communication. Say what you have to say in a non ambiguous manner. Be truthful and gentle in what you say.
The other person has to hear you: If the person you are communicating with does not hear what you are saying, communication has not been effective. If you asked your husband “take out the trash” and he heard “give me the cash” you have not communicated. Make sure you talk to your spouse when and where the can hear what you are saying.
Feedback: No feedback, no communication. The more serious the matter at hand is, the more imperative it is for you to get feedback. Ask your spouse to tell you what they heard you say. There is a way that people can hear something other than what you meant to say. For example you tell your wife: “I think you are having a lot of stress from your work. We need to do something”. If you get feedback you may hear something like: “You want me to give up my job”, and that was not what you were saying at all!
Good communication, not lovey-dovey feelings, is the lifeblood of any marriage.
Watch out for the concluding segment of Staying Married.