The thing about marriage is that we enter them with the best and most heartfelt intentions. We choose this person for better or worse, till death do us part. Often we marry when we are still in the honeymoon phase, that blissful bubble that lasts around 3 years. Usually this means we have seen our partner through some hard times and some good times. Most likely, the good times outweigh the hard.
It can be challenging, then, to hit the inevitable series of obstacles that visit a marriage. Most often it's challenging because there are a series of them in a row- where you wonder if you'll ever catch a break, or the depth and complexity of them require you both to dig deep and learn.
This can be confronting to us if we haven't seen the new skills role modeled in our families, as they are skills not generally addressed by mainstream pop culture/media.
Here are 5 tips to help you navigate complex times in your marriage:
1. Know your self- by understanding your own neuroses and needs you can make sure to fit your own life mask first. This allows you to better support your marriage.
2. Listen to understand- be sure you really know what it is that your partner is saying. Ask clarifying questions to unpack any statements or words that stand out in communications. Take nothing personally until you have gained complete clarity
3. Take responsibility - One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, and our marriages, is the gift of taking responsibility for our contributions to a problem. Usually the ability to see this comes after our fight or flight has calmed, and we realise it is safe to evaluate the feedback. Doing so is called 'Above the Line' behaviours.
4. Catch yourself using 'Below the Line' behaviours (blaming, justifying, defend, excuse) and halt. Usually we do this when we are feeling under threat, and our bodies are in fight/flight or freeze. This requires us to reset our body, before we can move on constructively.
5. Provide your feedback constructively - Make sure you have specific examples, and use 'I' statements to communicate problems clearly "I feel uncomfortable when you...." If you feel heightened in a 'Below the Line' way, stop and start again.
How do you navigate complexity in your relationship