Earlier in the season, I spent half a day with a four-year-old. This boy was as smart as a whip and no matter what memory game, coloring activity, or book I read to him to keep him entertained all he wanted to do was play transformers.
As we transformed the vehicles back and forth and acted out all sorts of scenarios, my mind drifted to my marriage and how many parallels there were to these silly, plastic toys.
At first, the toys look just like cars or trucks all neat and serving one purpose. Can a marriage look like one thing? Can it look all neat and tidy on the outside? With social media being so prevalent, I think we make our marriage look a certain way for the outside world to see. The photos we post are of us smiling, holding up a drink, taking a selfie from some amazing lookout or holding a cute baby or grandbaby in our arms.
With the transformers, the car or truck or snowplow can suddenly transform into an imaginary being. You can pretend that the transformer is a superhero or a villain. When we are our genuine selves (perhaps behind closed doors and off of social media) are we the superhero for our soulmate or the villain?
I’m going for the superhero or super marriage but I don’t always measure up. I get cranky. I get frustrated. Didn’t he hear me when I asked him to (fill in the blank)? Didn’t he get my subtle and not so subtle hints that I need (fill in the blank)?
No, he did not. Men are not mind readers any more than women are.
When we want our marriage to work, sometimes we have to be direct and concise. We have to state our needs and get the ball of communication rolling.
One tip that has been a big success for my own marriage is to use more statements that begin with “I“. Can you feel a different emotion coming from “I feel torn about the color we picked to paint the bathroom. Is it a bit too loud?” instead of “You picked an awful color. It’s so loud.”
“I feel annoyed about this” is a lot better than “You are annoying the heck out of me right now.” “I feel” sounds like you are taking some responsibility for your feelings while the “you” statement seems more like a punishment for your mate.
What a difference it is to hear “You don’t give a rats behind about how important this event was for me. You didn’t even show up” vs. “I missed you at the event today. I felt unsupported.”
Try one more. “You never stick to a budget. All you do is spend money on stupid junk.” vs “I feel stressed and a bit scared when I see that we missed the mark on the monthly budget we agreed on.”
Let’s go out there and transform our marriages. Let’s fill them with open communication and respect.