By Ke’Ana Lampkins
Relationships are tough but well worth the work. Choosing and finding a special person you want to spend the rest of your life with and build a life together is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. When you’re with the right person, their love and support can motivate and encourage you to reach your goals and dreams. But also research shows that if you’re happy in your relationships, you are usually more likely to be happy in other areas of your life.
Yet, it’s a decision we’re least prepared to make. Some of us seek advice in people who we feel have a healthy relationship. Whether, it is our parents, grandparents or even older friends we may have in our life. All the things I have learned I have been told at some point by someone else. However, it may have taken me a while to learn it.
In my first series, we talked about giving your significant other the benefit of the doubt. That it is important to assume the positive when situations arise. My next tip: Pick your battles & don’t sweat the small stuff.
When we first got married, I did not assume the positive, give the benefit of the doubt, or extend grace. I got mad about almost everything. I felt like he wasn’t who I wanted him to be and wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do. Whether it was cleaning the bathroom in a certain way or moving his shoes from the front door.
When we were first married I was still a senior in college, and my husband was finishing his last semester to graduate in the winter. Needless to say; we were busy, we were tired, and we were trying to learn how to be husband and wife. If I’m being honest with myself, I was also very immature. I didn’t know how to let things go. I also didn’t know how to communicate.
While it’s important to give your partner the benefit of the doubt, first you should decide if the situation is worth the response you’re giving it. Too often, we’re consumed by who we envision our partner to be and what they should be doing when they don’t meet those expectations (whether you’re aware of them or not) it can make us frustrated.
Something I learned early on is you can’t force someone into doing things the way you would do them. Some things, like your preferences, just aren’t worth getting upset over. Whether its a small pet peeve or something major like them forgetting to put gas in the car, learn to laugh at these situations and find ways to improve them together. Speaking for myself I entered the marriage with certain expectations I didn’t communicate, which led me to feel frustrated when it wasn’t done (as if he could read my mind).
Communication is so important. But what if you thought you did communicate? What if you don’t know how to effectively communicate? Things can get hard.
When you have an accumulation of small situations that you may or may not have communicated it’s easy for that mountain to just build on itself.
I touched on this a little bit in the first article about how important it is to assume the positive until you can communicate with your significant other. But how do you communicate appropriately? Here are quick tips on how to communicate effectively with ALL the loved ones in your life. Of course, it works well when both partners are able to follow these rules, but even if you do this without your spouse knowing these rules, they will soon notice the change in your communication style and possibly change their style of communication as well.
- I feel statements, not declarative statements: You want to make sure not to attack the other person, but tell them how they made you feel
- Respective tone and language, facial and body expressions: Even if you think you sound respective, if your face, body language, and tone say something else, it can cause the person on the receiving in to throw a wall up if they feel disrespected.
- Find the right time: in the heat of the moment may not be the best time to tell someone how you feel. They may not be able to hear you and understand, and you may be more likely to respond in an attacking way.
- Listen: You want to make sure that each person has the space to share their perspective about how they feel, but also to feel understood. Let that person, or even ask for yourself, to have the floor completely and be able to share how the situation made you feel.
- Take time to figure out what you want to communicate: it’s always good to take time to reflect before you begin the conversation. You don’t want to react to the other person’s feelings and not take into account how you are feeling before you hear their concerns.
When you have big issues in your relationship that affects you, those should be communicated. However, be mindful that you’re expectations are realistic and communicated in the relationship. But in the heat of the moment, ask yourself are the shoes in the front door, worth the argument?
Stay tuned for the last 3 tips!
Ke’Ana Lampkins is a contributing writer for The Pedestal Project, LLC. Ke’Ana is a christian, wife, and mother dedicated to empowering young girls and women through counseling, mentorship, and education. Connect with her on Instagram @Beautifully_Yanni.