Marriage & Communication: What Works for Us

Mar 06, 2018 | By Christina

Sunday morning we found ourselves sitting at the breakfast table a little longer than usual. We spent some time reflecting on the last year, but not in that good ‘ol New Year’s resolution type of way. We’re already welcoming in March anyway. We found ourselves talking about marriage, our marriage, and what our perceptions of marriage were before we said “I do”.

Although, both of us wouldn’t identify as religious, we both grew up in Catholic homes, and so traditionally we were married in a church. As a requirement/prerequisite to marriage in the Catholic faith, you have to attend pre-cana classes. This may offend some people, and apologies if so, but we mostly were married in a church for our families. It was a beautiful ceremony and our favorite part of the day, even if I was an hour late to the church (long story!), but following these traditions weren’t something that was a big focus for us in the beginning. Like many young couples in love, we just wanted to be married and be together, corny but true. Anyway, pre-cana…we weren’t exactly “all for it”, but still till this day something that really stuck with me was a talk by one of the older couples who were there to guide us in these classes. Their advice was simple…”marriage is not love at first sight” (already I was aggravated — stop crushing my young in love heart, I kept thinking)…”marriage is a choice to wake up everyday and love that person who you said ‘I do’ to”. I didn’t realize it then, but now we both agree marriage and growing closer in a marriage is indeed a choice. There are so many unforeseen stressors, ups and downs, changes individually, and ways we’ve been tested throughout our four (almost five!) years of marriage. There have been so many emotions, individual and as a couple, that we have learned to deal with and the right way (for us) to communicate those emotions to each other, so that we can be there as a strong partner.

Also, learning to communicate better, meant learning how to argue and not shying away from it. I feel like one of the things we get asked often is…”how do you guys work together/how do you spend so much time together?” We’ve received a few messages from people saying they love their partner, but sometimes being together often drives them crazy and they feel awful about that. We are not experts by any means, and everything is so specific to each person’s relationship, but learning how to argue and communicate so that arguments don’t get out of hand has been a game changer. You see, I come from a family of door-slammers, yellers or as my family quite comically told me growing up…”we just speak loudly”… 😉 Over the last two years we have learned how to not let that escalate…it wasn’t easy, but learning how to explain our feelings in simple phrases, like..”It hurts my feelings when you say ___” or “Even though you were joking, I felt uncomfortable with ___”. It sounds pretty obvious, right?…but once we became more conscious of how we were actually speaking to each other and reacting when things got a little crazy, the better we became together. It should go without saying that we all argue and that is okay…at least I believe that to be true. We all aren’t in agreeance all the time and that’s okay as long as we can respectfully work through it.

Personally, I’m a perfectionist and when things don’t go as planned (and man, do I do a lot of planning), I can get real bent of shape. I’m working on it. Last week we had a few particularly difficult days around here (work, some upcoming home projects, things like that…) and it built up and got the best of me. I couldn’t communicate my emotions in the best way and just quietly retreated to our bedroom. Something I’m really grateful for that we’ve been working on is giving each other that personal space to just “cool off” and then reconvene with each other. It’s not always easy, but sometimes a bath or 15 minutes of reading really helps to put things into perspective and then we can talk it through and try to be there for each other.

I think in the end, continuously working on being an emotionally present partner for each other has been what has gotten us through so many difficult times…financially, personally, health wise and so on. We both communicate our emotions in such drastically different ways, and learning that is a task in itself, but making the choice to constantly be there for one another and to not give up on each other has been a gift. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s not always an easy choice, but it is indeed a choice and one that I’m happy we’ve made.

We’ve been talking about this so often with friends lately…engaged and married and The Five Love Languages book keeps coming up. We haven’t read it but from what we gather, it’s all about how partners feel valued in a relationship and feel love from their partner in different ways. I’ve heard so many great things…has anyone read it before? We’re pretty interested.

Anyway, we just found ourselves having a complete laugh attack getting ready to head out for a stroll on a little trail over here in Sedona. Rob asked me where his “Artfully Walls stuff is” and I responded with no hesitation, “over on the chair”…I knew he was talking about an Outdoor Voices sweatsuit he’s been obsessed with lately and was looking for. I didn’t even realize he said “Artfully Walls” until we shot each other a look and completely lost it. 😉 And that is one of the many great things about marriage…ha!

20 comments on “Marriage & Communication: What Works for Us”

  1. This post was perfect for me today! My husband and I have been married for a year on Sunday, and I totally relate to all you talked about concerning communication. I’m a total perfectionist, and he’s super laid back; but we’re working our best to learn to communicate better and work out ways for us to both be happy.
    I have read the 5 love languages, and it’s really good! Definitely worth the read. We both have different love languages, and learning how to be there for each other is something we will always be trying to make better.
    Thank you two so much for this post!

  2. Great post. Have been married for 15 years this summer. I have read 5LL and would highly recommend it. If your top languages don’t match, it’s a great way to understand how to show love in a way your partner needs and then understand why the things we do to show our love don’t always mean as much as we think they should. 😉 Love that goes the distance is definitely a choice. Such a wonderful reminder for me today!

  3. My husband and I have been married for 12 years. We read the Five Love Languages and loved it. It actually helps you figure out what your love language is and your partners. We read it when we were engaged. It is a game changer. I agree with all that you said. Being present with one another’s emotions is so important. My husband and I alos believe marrige is a choice and you choose each day to honor your wedding vows and choose to be with your spouse. Very good advice you got.

  4. I just got married in December, and this post was particularly inspiring to me because of it! My husband and I both follow you on Instagram and here on your blog, and we often talk about how adorable you two are…but it is also nice to know that you have your ups and downs just like any other couple. It’s fascinating to hear about other people’s marriages as we begin to navigate our own, and we found it so refreshing that you chose to openly talk about yours. Thank you for an enlightening and uplifting post (as usual)! 🙂

  5. Sound advice and I wish you both continued blessings.

    My feeling is that we should never feel we have to apologize for having or not having a religious background. No need to apologize in advance if someone is offended by pre-cana counseling-too much sensitivity nowadays.

  6. Great post! I think it’s so important to be honest about what marriage is really like, the wonderful and the challenging. Our misconceptions about things like arguments can be a big road block when in a relationship. I’m a firm believer that healthy conflict helps us grow more than many other experiences in a relationship.
    I have read the 5 Love Languages book and it’s eye opening. It gives a lot of insight into the ways the people receive love and how we can love those we care about best. But what I really found interesting is that our default for showing love is in the ways that WE receive it. Knowing this has been so helpful so that I can identify the ways that my husband has been showing me love, even if it’s through his love language and not mine (because learning to love someone through their love language takes time). If you do read it I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  7. I’ve read “The 5 Love Languages”, and it the best book you could even read if you’re in a relationship. Highly recommended!

  8. I haven’t read the Five Love Languages, but my husband has. He actually brought it up at the very beginning of our relationship, which helped set expectations on both sides. It helped us better understand each other, but also show care for each other in ways that mattered most. We also work/commute/live together and enjoy it a lot. I definitely agree with you about the importance of learning how to explain feelings in simpler phrases. When it’s a more difficult topic, we talk about what our intention is, how we’re feeling at the moment and how each other feels after something has been said. I feel like this gets rid of a lot of self imposed stress we tend to feel, worrying about how what we said affected the other. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  9. What I love about being together for so long, is that you get to know each other better and every argument you have together is an opportunity to grow. We have both different ways dealing with arguments. I tend to get over emotional, he keeps it bottled up inside until he can’t no more. It can get explosive sometimes (not in a worrying sense). We are getting better at it. I know now that he feels powerless and unable to help and that can get the best of him. He knows better know I can use support through a good hug and a cry.

    We both know better that from the deep down the intentions are good and that we don’t mean to hurt each other, but when we disagree emotions can get the upper hand. Now we know each other better we try to think of that. It helps. This morning we had words and it didn’t get explosive at all.

    Thank you for sharing, since having arguments is something most people don’t talk about and on days like this, its good to realize and hear.

    I will definitely check out the book!

  10. Thank you so much for this post. You have no idea how offen your words here can make my day ! These are so obvious things about marriage, but also the hardest to work on. We have been married for almost 3years (together for 6) and there still some things we need to work on. We’ve already been trough serious problems (our own flat, family problems, financial issues) and they made us so upset and angry. And dissapointed too, because it all started few months before our wedding and… Well, I guess it wasn’t the perfect start of marriage. But it’s life. The thing I can say we have in common with you two is that we ‘communicate our emotions in drastically different ways’ too. I’m always closer to yell or get angry, my husband is more introvert. We are working on our communication and it’s hard but I hope we can make it:) Thanks again for warm and honest words <3 And big hugs from Poland<3

  11. Such a good post! It’s funny, me and my husband (of 4 years) are always always always together. We moved to different cities and countries together and obviously do almost everything together since we don’t have many “personal” friends. People asks us too how we don’t get on each other nerves and I never know what to say, we’re each other’s best friends but we literally speak two different languages, come from different countries and religions so since our mixed faith wedding ceremony we had to compromise a lot! Also, as you said in an older post, when you have to take care of another “being” in your family (wether a sibling, a dog or a cat and a child in our case)it gets more complicated! Being patient, trying our best to explain our feelings and giving each other space when needed is really the best solution, and also accepting that the other person, as much as similar is to you, is NOT you helps.
    You guys are doing a great job and are adorable together! Wish you all the best for the future!

  12. Thank you for this! My boyfriend and I have seen the best and worst of each other, but one thing that has always helped me “get myself together” in those troubled times is weighing out the pros and cons. And the pros will always win ???? I go back to all the good things he’s brought into my life and suddenly the bad things don’t seem all that terrible. Life is to short to waste on being upset… and boy have we been upset before! It really puts things into perspective, though. We’ve learned (and are learning) how to communicate with each other. The delivery of the message is almost as important as the message itself. Again, thank you! Wishing you two the best in your marriage.

  13. You guys are the cutest! I’ve heard that after 5 years, you’re supposedly happier being married than in the first few years….I don’t know if that’s true or not!

    My husband is a mental health therapist (primarily focused on marriages) and even we have arguments and don’t always make each other FEEL loved.

    I wrote a blog post about the book and our love languages if you want to check it out!

  14. Hi Christina,

    So, sometimes I look at your blog (as I am sure many people do) and think that you must have a perfect life. Kudos to you for being able to style and stage everything so beautifully! It is really refreshing when you write posts like this and the one about your battles with acne, etc. It reminds me that you are human! <3

  15. This was really sweet to read. Relationships take work, but that’s what makes them so special. It’s nice to know that someone else wants to put effort into making you happy. Thank you for sharing.

  16. I can think of two moments/resources that have helped our communication.
    We read the 5LL book in the first years of our relationship as an evening read. It was a fascinating and enlightening read about relationship dynamics between people. (Frankly, it helped me understand and improve relationships with my immediate family) When I need more quality time, my husband often sees the signs and declares “date night” or seeks out an adventure for us without other distractions (phone, other people, etc.) I look and listen for acts of service opportunities that will help my husband. We us the lingo from the book if one of us is feeling like we are craving more attention and to express when we are feeling a full “love tank.”
    At our wedding, a close friend told us what works for his marriage: the 90/10 rule. Strive for 90 percent cheering on and supportive comments and only 10 percent constructive criticism and hard-to-hear language. When the balance feels off for a period of time we discuss the issues and individually decide to reaccept each other as we are.

  17. i haven’t read that book but i’ve been wanting to. i suspect my husband and i have very different love languages. it’d probably be helpful to gain a better perspective!

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