“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke
The statistics surrounding marriage can be unsettling at times. In fact, we are surrounded by examples of broken marriages in popular media and culture. As a couple, Rocket (my new blog name for my husband) and I seek advice and keys to a successful marriage from those who have been in the marriage game longer. We actively look for examples of successful marriages and in a future blog post I look forward to sharing some of those incredible stories! One piece of advice that has stuck with us throughout dating and our marriage was from Rocket’s aunt:
“Find somebody you are willing to change for and who is willing to change for you.” -Aunty Herme
Two weeks ago we went to lunch at one of our favorite Thai restaurants, Fuchsia, with two young men from the United States.
One was planning on moving to Dubai with his wife and 3 kids and the other was still single while figuring out the next steps in his career. After sharing some relationship advice, our married friend turned the table on us and asked two very poignant questions.
1. In your first year of marriage, have you had any challenges?
I mulled the question over in my head. I turned to my husband for help, but realized we were both stuck. Not that we don’t have any, but we couldn’t even think of one challenge at that moment. The only thing I could come up with was our different preferences for storing our toothbrush! To help us out, he asked the question a different way.
2. What has been your biggest source of conflict?
Again another challenging question for us. Compared to the many stories of failed marriages I have heard from friends, our first year of marriage has been smooth sailing.
We shared that most of our conflicts happen due to different styles of communication (One of our families is very spirited and the other more reserved, and respectively, we follow these long-learned and lived patterns). Once we take the time to focus on the topic at hand, and not the delivery, we pretty quickly resolve our disagreements in a constructive manner.
Being intentional about our relationship:
Perhaps more importantly, our difficulty answering the question highlighted the fact that we have not been as intentional about discussing, evaluating and working on ourselves and our relationship as we did while dating!
While dating, we were intentional about discussing difficult topics without the pressure of actually being married. To help guide our discussions, we watched a sermon series on Song of Solomon (book in the Bible) and used the guided questions to help us delve deeper into a full range of challenging topics that would have been difficult to bring up otherwise: finances, our parents, our families’ communication styles, sex, kids, what does being married mean to each of us, and more.
It was through these conversations that we learned how to listen to each other, and try to understand our differences. I did not realize it at the time, but by having these conversations while dating, we built a strong foundation for our marriage that continually helps us talk about difficult topics in a constructive way.
Now that we are married, we can say with confidence that the key to us having constructive disagreements has been listening with each other’s best interest in mind and being willing to change.
The lunch conversation continued, and our single friend asked another interesting question…
1. How do you prepare for marriage if you don’t know who you are going to marry?
We will share in a future post how we each thought about preparing ourselves for a relationship. (You will finally get to hear from Rocket!).
P.S. The discussion questions for the Song of Solomon series are no longer online. However, Rocket was proactive in downloading them and we recommend them to many of our friends and family. If you would like a copy, please contact us.