“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
James 1:19-20 ESV
Fighting can be a huge burden in a military marriage. Sometimes the circumstances of training, deployments, or TDYs can keep you from working things out with your spouse for days or weeks. That can make even a small disagreement a huge burden during an already trying time. But communicating about issues, complaints, disagreements, and dissatisfaction doesn’t have to become a fight. In fact, that’s not an effective way to grow in or improve your marriage at all, especially for Christians. The verse above sums up how we should strive to communicate with each other perfectly, but there are several specific things you can do to implement those principles and improve marital communication.Communicating about issues, complaints, disagreements, and dissatisfaction doesn’t have to become a fight.Click To Tweet
Never Say “Always”
When you’re dealing with a recurring marital issue, it can be tempting to snap at your partner for “always” doing something. It may even feel like they really always do that thing. However, “always” is a powerful word. It invalidates any efforts (however small) your partner has made to resolve the issue and shows them that you have no confidence in them to make changes. By cutting your partner down with this word, you are sabotaging your own request for change.
Instead of accusing your partner of doing something (which is often where “always” rears its ugly head), speak in terms of how you are feeling. Explain how you understood what happened — what you perceived your partner’s motivations to be — and how you felt as a result. Here’s an example: “When you did ____, I felt like you might have intended it to hurt my feelings. But before I get angry about it, I want to know what happened from your perspective. Were those your intentions? Please help me understand your actions because I am feeling hurt.” It’s important to remember that miscommunication and misunderstandings are often the source of conflict. Try to remember that there are always two sides to every story. Your partner probably isn’t trying to hurt you or withhold support from you, and if they are, you need to get to the bottom of why they’re behaving that way (which may mean you need to make improvements, too).
Don’t Just Focus on You
While you should speak in terms of yourself, you should also try to understand what your partner is feeling in the situation. Unless you understand where the other person is coming from, it will be difficult to come up with a positive solution that meets both of your needs. Especially if you are on the receiving end of criticism, try to stop your defensive impulses and listen to what your partner has to say. No one likes to hear that they’ve done something wrong, but it is an opportunity to grow and improve your marriage so that you are both happier in the long run. Even if your partner is accusatory, try to ask questions to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Don’t immediately offer excuses or point out your partner’s flaws. Take time to truly consider what the other person says.