I’ve learned wonderful lessons about marriage from failure and success. I learned from my problems in my first marriage, and I’ve gleaned wisdom from success in my second marriage. When I was trying to save my first marriage and failed, I thought that all the strategies I used were worthless. However, that wasn’t the case. People choose to love other people and utilizing the best strategies possible won’t guarantee success. However, it does increase the odds. Some of the communication skills that I learned in my first marriage have greatly enhanced the second one. Other areas were just total failures. I’ve admitted those to myself and have committed myself to not repeating the mistakes of the past.
He should know what’s bothering me! Some women give men the silent treatment, pouting and fuming, but all the while refusing to tell their husbands why they are mad. When confronted with their refusal to communicate, they say, “If he doesn’t know, he can figure it out.” This approach doesn’t improve a marriage. It can be humbling to admit the reason for your pain, but it is helpful. For example, if your husband has forgotten your birthday or anniversary, you could say, “I am hurt because you did not acknowledge my birthday.”
Some men are forgetful. If you suspect that your husband did not mean to hurt your feelings, remind him of important occasions. For example, you could say, “My birthday is next week. Would you like to plan something for us to do?”
Reminding your husband in advance will help you know whether his behavior is a direct refusal to acknowledge your birthday or simply something he has forgotten.
Calmly admit what is bothering you. State your feelings and tell your spouse why you are upset. Hostile behavior will make your spouse want to avoid contact with you. Instead, help your spouse listen to your message by stating it in a normal tone of voice—without yelling or name calling.
Look at what he/she bought me! I spent a fortune and ended up with almost nothing. Communicate in advance and decide what each of you will spend on birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays such as Christmas. You can avoid problems by communicating expectations in advance. Don’t assume that your husband or wife knows how you feel about something.
If your partner picks out lousy gifts, then state what you want that is within the budget, the amount you both agreed to spend.
You blew all our money! Or, you tightwad, you never let us have any fun! Sit down and discuss your finances. My husband and I went through Dave Ramsey’s financial program, Financial Peace University. It helped us to choose common goals and come to an agreement about the way that we would spend our money. It has helped eliminate fights about money.
I didn’t know you felt that way! As mentioned earlier, communication is important. Instead of yelling because someone accidentally insulted you, let that person know in advance how you feel. If it’s important for you to visit your family during the holidays, tell your spouse. Don’t assume that the person you married knows everything about you.
Good communication also applies to the division of housework and chores. Come to an agreement about which chores will be done, when they will be done, and who will do them.
You never spend any time with me! In my first marriage I was guilty of not spending enough time with my spouse. I gave my children too much of my attention. Now that I’m remarried, I am now trying to balance my time between my spouse and my children. Although I enjoy spending time with my friends, I try to make sure that my husband, my best friend, never feels rejected.
Good communication is more important than winning an argument or getting your way. Relationships need to be nurtured. Getting what you want by yelling or threatening your spouse destroys the relationship. In addition, always conceding to your spouse and never stating your opinion will cause you to resent your spouse. Be brave enough to admit when something is bothering you, but be loving enough to work towards compromise.