When I started attending classes to become a counselor, I secretly hoped it would make me the perfect husband. What better husband training than a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling? I stepped into the the first class thinking this is going to be great, I’ll be surrounded by relationship perfection and quickly learn the secrets of an amazing marriage. I worked and worked at gaining knowledge, emulating my professors, and practicing counseling but perfection never came. I still make mistakes as a husband and father.
I’ve written about making mistakes in marriage before, check out my post “The 3 Best Phrases To Say When Your Spouse Makes a Mistake”
My wife Hollie and I are blessed to experience a wonderful marriage. We have our advantages but I mess up and when I do this is usually how.
1. I miscommunicate. This happens more when I’m tired. Marriage tip: don’t talk tired. It never goes well for me, the tone doesn’t come out right. I miscommunicate most often by omitting an explanation of my emotions. When I fail to use words to explain my emotions, I act grumpy and connection breaks down. Emotion is a critical part of communication. I fail to communicate well when I’m experiencing emotion like fear or feel vulnerable. When I feel inadequate, I react either by withdrawing, or becoming verbally demanding. When that happens I have to stop to consider my emotions, then I can accurately communicate again.
2. I lack enthusiasm for things she likes. I remember one morning Hollie excitedly told me she was looking forward to spending the afternoon at “a super cute place to shop.” I wasn’t thrilled and I’m sure it showed in the tone of my response. I decided to do something else and I missed out. It wasn’t so much that I missed out on the shopping, I missed out on the opportunity to connect with my wife.
3. I fail to notice the effort she makes. It’s not that I’m not appreciative, but sometimes I really don’t notice. Other times my perspective is selfish. A few nights ago Hollie was working on fixing technical problems with my blog and I was annoyed she was not finishing as fast as I wanted. Oops. My ungrateful attitude missed her effort to show me love.
By the end of my graduate program in counseling I discovered counselors are simply regular people willing to brave the imperfect world, to meet people where they are, and really listen.
Turns out it’s a formula for a well connected marriage too. Two imperfect regular people willing to brave the imperfect world together, embrace each other, and really listen.
It’s common to struggle in the same ways even when trying to learn from the mistakes. I will likely fail in similar ways again in my marriage but I have found:
- When I risk sharing my vulnerabilities, connection thrives.
- When I pay attention to what she likes, she knows I delight in her and connection thrives.
- When I see how she shows me love, connection thrives.
I love the great connection Hollie and I share. I’m going to do what I can to see it thrive.
What have you found to help your connection thrive?