Photo courtesy Gare and Kitty

Tell me if you’ve ever done this. You’re at a function of some type with several other people. The air conditioner in the place obviously works very well. Instead of speaking up and stating that you are cold and wish someone would turn up the AC, you phrase it in a question. “Are you cold? You look like you’re cold.” What’s the risk in speaking up and stating what you’re experiencing? “Hey, I’m cold. Anyone got an extra Parka?”
Maybe you’ve been in this situation. You’re going about your daily tasks with your family or significant other and they say something in passing to you. While whatever they said was innocuous, your interpretation was anything but. You storm out of the room or react with a verbal unleashing that would give any baseball coach a run for his money.
If none of the preceding examples have happened, how about this. You are so deeply involved in your routine of life and work that when you come home after a long day, you simply co-exist with your spouse. You don’t even talk anymore. You’ve drifted apart and are living lives together under the same roof, but miles apart.
The common belief for the cause of these examples? You are having trouble communicating. You could benefit from some communication training. Learning how to be assertive and properly use “I” messages.
Nothing against these types of approaches, they are each good concepts to learn and incorporate within the right contexts. A committed relationship however, is not one of these contexts. Allow me to explain, and keep in mind that you cannot not communicate (pardon the double negative).
Everything we say; spoken and otherwise, speaks volumes. Everything we don’t say speaks loudly as well. Research continues to confirm that around 93% of our communication resides in our body language and tone. How we say what we say speaks louder than what we say. The reverse is also true, how we say what we don’t say speaks louder than what we don’t say. I think I just confused myself.
Communication problems are not the result of trouble understanding each other. It’s that you understand each other all too well.
The problem really lies in me not liking what the other person is saying, and then reacting. When I react to the spike of emotion I get while interacting with another human, I often do so in an attempt to sooth myself.
A majority of communication within a committed relationship is covert. I am afraid to say what I really mean because I am afraid to take the emotional “hit.” So I say it in code.
To simplify marriage requires standing up. Be honest with yourself and your spouse. It’s the only way to lasting passion and adventure in marriage.
How to stand up.

Recognize your choices. Marriage is choice. But many times, you may wish you had more choices. Not choices in other partners, but choices within the marriage. A dilemma occurs when you want two choices at the same time, but you only get one.

For instance, you may want your spouse to be more emotionally open and share their feelings, but you interrupt them when they say things you find unpleasant or disagree with (in your view, you may just want to keep the conversation “accurate”). You want a more expressive spouse, but want to control what they express.

Another example involves asking your spouse to take more responsibility for initiating sex, but you want to dictate when, where, how, and why sexual initiations should be made. You want a spouse who can think for themselves- and you want to tell them what they should think!

Be willing to take the hit. Many times we are unwilling to state what we really feel. This is mainly due to self-preservation and protection from any backlash that results from our speaking up. If you refuse to speak up enough times, you risk being run over repeatedly. When you speak up, you begin to present a more solid target for your spouse to choose. Since we all want to be chosen, we must stand up enough to be recognized. Following the crowd just blends in with the surroundings.

It’s time to stand up and be noticed.

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