Things I’ve Learned in My Marriage

Summer always seems to be full of weddings. As I am currently in the point of my life where all my friends are getting married, I have attended three weddings in three weeks. I really love going to weddings and seeing the different cultures and traditions that these couples incorporate into these special days. Each one is unique.

No matter how unique each wedding is, there are always similar messages that are shared during these weddings. Love is a circle, like a ring. Never ending. The promise to love, support, cherish your partner unconditionally. The joy that the couple shares in being able to start their new life together as husband and wife. Or partners.

They are wonderful messages, and while looking at these relationships taking the step to committing to each other forever, it makes you start thinking about your own relationship. What works? What doesn’t? Every relationship is different, but I think that there are some things that are the same for every marriage. This is what I know to be true.

Communication is Key

No relationship can survive without communication. You need to be able to talk to your partner when you are happy, sad, excited, scared or angry. It can be terrifying to have to lay everything out to your partner, but it’s the only way your marriage can be successful. If you can break down the walls of pride and fear and be able to tell them how you are feeling, you can be on the same page when making decisions and dealing with conflict. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it in the end.

Know Your Partners Love Language

Jarrett and I were lucky enough to take a course before we got married that taught us about the five love languages. The languages allow you to understand how each person needs to be shown love. The options are acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation or quality time. You can find out which one you are by visiting http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ and completing a quiz about the love languages.

Lots of couples struggle because while they are showing their partner that they love them, the other partner is not getting what they need in terms of feeling loved. For example, if you need gifts to feel loved, and your partner works really hard around the house giving you acts of service, you may not feel loved, but they think that by cleaning the house, they are showing you how much they love you. By learning each other’s love languages, your partner will know that you will feel loved when they buy you a coffee just to tell them you are thinking of them. In return, you will know that you need to provide acts of service to show them you care.

The website above also has quizzes for Apology Language, Appreciation Language and Anger Assessment. I highly recommend checking it out!

Understanding Your Type of Conflict

The other really useful thing we learned in our course was the four reactions that people have to conflict. Our course described these reactions as the hawk, ostrich, chicken and dove. The hawk is quick to attack in a conflict, the ostrich hides from conflict, the chicken is very analytical and the dove strives for peace. This article, called Fowl Play! talks about these personalities, although the chicken I learned about is an owl in this article.

I found this information about conflict personalities very useful in my marriage because in understanding how your partner reacts to conflict, you can better understand them. I know I am a dove. I work hard to make sure everyone is happy until I am unhappy trying to make everyone else happy. My husband is a hawk. He reacts before he thinks sometimes. I know this about him, and instead of being hurt by it, I can give him time to calm down and then we can figure out how to resolve the conflict.

In doing some research on these personality types, I have learned that most people call these personalities the eagle, peacock, owl and dove and call the test the DOPE test. This test is a personality test that is used in workplaces, but I think that it is helpful for anyone wants to better understand their personalities. This website gives you some more information on the DOPE Test.

Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Jarrett and I have learned that no matter what happens in the day, we can’t go to bed angry. It  may take us until 2am to talk things out, but we have to put in the effort to get to a point where we have a mutual understanding of the situation. We don’t always have everything fixed, but we always try to find a compromise or express everything we are felling before we go to sleep. That way, you can start the next day with a fresh slate. It also helps you sleep knowing that everything is resolved.

Marriage is Work

Marriage isn’t easy. Just like relationships aren’t easy.  There are ups and downs. Good days and tough days.The only difference between relationships and marriage is there is a piece of paper saying that you are committed to each other forever. Whether you are in a committed relationship or married, you have to really work at it in order to make your partnership successful. There is no easy out. It means talking until 2am when you have an argument. It means putting the extra effort in to speak your partners love languages. Obviously there are exceptions to every relationship, but ultimately, we should be working together as couples to make sure we are on the same page and speaking each others languages. I think that if we can do that, we can be successful.

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