My Husband and I have been married for five and a half years. Not very long in the scale of many marriages, but not so novice that even the smallest bump unsettles. At the beginning of this year, we encountered a fair amount of challenge in our little family’s lives. This last weekend, now on the other side of this intense season, we laughed about how we all fared.
I love this quote by John A Shedd;
“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what a ship are built for.”
My remake of this particular quote for relationships and conflict resolution is this;
“Relationships in the Spring season feel safe, but that is not what relationships were designed for.”
It is easy to declare “We have a great relationship” when the sun is shining, the bank balance is steady and our health is blooming. What about those seasons when the storms rage, the hail storms hit and the sun is hidden by clouds?
The beginning of twenty sixteen was one of those seasons for us. With two close friends passing away, selling a house and buying a new one, cars blowing up, complex work situations, six different hospital visits for family members, new school. Then the realisation that the house we bought is no longer in that particular school district, so back to the complex decision-making school drawing board.
One could say, we have held our hands tightly many times over this last year and realised how important it was to employ firm conflict resolution tactics in our marriage.
Before we married five years ago, it was recommended that we attend marriage counselling. I now think marriage counselling should be compulsory one or two years into a marriage and then follow-ups, five, ten and fifteen years in. One resource book we were given as a part of this counselling was Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.
We both read this book, front to back and my husband often listens to it on Audible as a refresher. We have found the content of this book to be truly transformational. Learning the very basics around respect and love in marriage. We totally agreed with the premise that my husband longs to feel respected, in every conversation, the way I treat him and even those times when I don’t speak but create atmospheres in our home. Secondly that I, long to feel safe, secure and loved. The way I feel loved is very specific to my unique personality, but the cycle that ensues in the roundabout of conflict when one of these components is missing.
Often we now say to each other;
Are you feeling respected?
Are you feeling loved?
These two perspectives have been transformational in our marriage. Right in the midst of the conflict cycle, when we are sleep deprived, stressed, confused, feeling disappointment or isolation, we do our very best to realign these two important facets of our perspective. We fight fair because we have learnt one of the main sources of the conflict, is not what we are actually discussing but the source of the reaction that is nine times out of ten, linked back to feeling disrespected or unloved.
Here is our one and only tactic to combatting the cycle of conflict that can plague marriages. We laugh. Not at each other, not with unkind disrespect, but as an argument starts to ensue, one of us or often both of us smiles and laughs. We laugh at the source of the conflict, rather than each other. Are you disrespecting me? Am I feeling a little unloved right now?
We crack jokes, we break the ice, we stop the words that so easily could flow out, take a break and find the respect and love space again. Together we look at the situation with fresh eyes, because we remove the insanity of the moment by releasing the pressure.
I think a lot of our worlds problems could be solved if we just started laughing a little more. You both need to commit to the insanity of the joke, but when you are both able to make a funny face, smile and laugh…The pressure valve of cyclical conflict is released.
I am realising that often I overreact to a situation, because of something completely separate to the conflicts circumstance. I have also realised that often in the midst of this emotion I can be extremely disrespectful to my favourite person in the world, just because he is the one often present.
Here is my commitment to my family and to you Kinwomen, in the midst of stressful, emotional and difficult seasons, I am going to do my utmost best to respect those closest to me, in the way I speak and act. Secondly, I am going to not take myself so seriously and laugh when I express those deep emotions in an outrageously out of context way.
Here’s a toast to laughing a little more with our nearest and dearest, than cycles of conflict that become impossible to navigate.
Amanda is releasing a new book this December, She found herself thirty and single looking for inspiration that was free from cliche. She asked thirty of her married and divorced friends to write letters to their former single selves. “Dear Single Self” is a collection of letters from all over the world, sparking courage, wisdom and hope for women over 30 and single. Available for pre-release order today.
Brilliant advice! Such a great description of what marriage is like and how laughter lifts a situation out of tension into a space for communication. Love it!
Love the book Love and Respect!! Totally recommend it to all my friends in relationships! There are so many spot on scenarios that my husband and I have all the time.
Love your work Amanda! X