I am a 44-year-old woman, married with three children. My husband and I have been married for 23 years and relate well. Currently, however, whenever my husband does something wrong and I point it out, he tends to defend himself by blaming me or also pointing out where I go wrong. This makes us unable to solve the issue at hand, as a result, we end up giving each other the silent treatment. How best can we solve this?
In marriage, it is not so much about finding the right partner than it is about being the right person. We all relate differently, communicate and solve issues differently. Physically, biologically and even emotionally, there is nothing like finding a right mate in marriage.
Although everyone wants to find that perfect neighbour, friend or husband or wife, such a dream has, in many instances, been a far-fetched one.
Some argue that people who sincerely love each other should never argue or fight. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is true that deep within each man and woman is the common longing and desire to find comfort, companionship, fellowship, honesty, genuine concern and peace, but this does not come free of charge. We have to remember that in relationships, the easiest factor is to fall in love and walk down the aisle, however, marriage is not only about the beginning, but also about the process of learning, surrender and loving through all seasons of life.
I am glad that there is already something to celebrate in your marriage. This should form the foundation for a future of building agreement through honest disclosure and where you embrace a give and take attitude. Your vision should be to cultivate an environment where both of you feel free to communicate boldly. How couples communicate and how each receives this communication determines the quality of the relationship.
The question for both of you is, ‘how free are you to speak your mind? The silence that results when both of you hit a snag in communicating ends up scuttling your well-intended and honestly expressed opinion, thereby making it hard for both of you to feel like you have been heard and your contribution valued.
I suggest a level of intelligence to be included when you are seeking to communicate an idea to each other. This is particularly true where correction is the intention.
Being aware of the power of emotional intelligence in relationships will enhance how you communicate and in the process preserve your marriage. Emotional intelligence is about the ability of one to be aware of, control, and express their emotions in a healthy manner and in consideration to their spouse’s feelings. It is about knowing how your partner reacts to feedback and in turn being empathetic when expressing your feelings.
So, I advise you to take time to weigh what you want to communicate against how you desire to communicate it.
It is sometimes easier to be passionate in communicating what is bothering you and fail to be considerate in the way you communicate this. It could be that in your case, your husband gets into defense mode for this very reason. Alternately, he could be defensive because you show no ownership in the matter you raise.
Defensiveness is sometimes a symptom of the anxiety that comes about when one is about to face criticism. Is there something you have done that could be triggering this behavior in your husband? Why does he perceive your correction as a threat? I suggest that you identify what makes him to behave defensively. Secondly, consider what I suggested earlier and interrogate how you communicate.
Are you respectful and do you exude empathy? Author James Walker in his book, Husbands Who Won’t Lead and Wives Who Won’t Follow, says, "When conflicts arise in a relationship, differences are easily mislabeled not for what they are but simply as a lack of love."
The take away from this quote is that your love for each other is still there, but there are issues that you must honestly confront.
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