A healthy marriage consists of communication, positive conflict management and each partner having their needs met. This is where I'm selfish. I want my needs met but I don't always see my husband's. We have lived in the chaos of renovations and higher education and work and life for so long, I think I've forgotten to really see him and his needs. And I interpret how he makes "requests" of me as attacks, as judgement or as a need to control his world. I forget that he needs structure and a certain level of order to the chaos. Me, I don't see the mess around me. I'm learning this is a coping mechanism and not how I actually function best, but I don't see the chaos. I survive despite it.
So as my friend and I were talking and I shared with her a story about lemons, a kitchen sink and my husband, she gently but firmly showed me that my reaction to the situation was rather passive aggressive and that my husband likely needs some structure that I haven't been providing for him. She shared with me a different way I could have responded that would have met my need and given my husband what he needed. Instead of the push me pull you of relationship dynamics, I could have responded in a way that would have acknowledged we both have needs and we both know how to compromise in order for those needs to be fulfilled.
We have a relatively healthy marriage, but even in good marriages there are things that need to be addressed and areas we can improve. Some behaviors that are getting in our way. Every marriage needs check-ups once in a while. A good physical where we can see potential issues or warning signs and head them off before they can take root and eat away at the foundation.
I was reminded I need to really see my husband. To voice my needs instead of fuming at the status quo, and be willing to have some give and take that isn't all or nothing. That is, instead, partnering. These are not new concepts to me. There have been times I've been very good at these things. And times like now when I choose to act in a less than partnering manner.
To change the patterns we are forming requires a willingness to change behavior, and the willingness to have some difficult conversations instead of letting things slide. I can't change my husband's behavior, but I can change mine. I can't change his perspective, but I can work on mine. I can't make him share with me, but I can choose to share my needs, wants, thoughts with him.
There are choices in every situation. They may not always be great choices, but there are choices. Letting things slide can lead to victim thinking (I had no choice, I can't change things, there's no point), or anger and resentment. Change which choice we make and we can instead work to build a stronger relationship.
Lunch was good. The firm and gentle reminder was what I needed. I'm very grateful for friends who are willing to speak the truth. It helps me grow. And in turn, I hope it will help me as I continue to nurture and grow my marriage and my other relationships.