By Aiyana Ma’at
I have a question for you. How do you respond to your husband or wife when they try to talk to you about “touchy” or “difficult” subjects? Really, just pause for a second and be honest with yourself. Do you provide a safe or hostile environment for your spouse to come and talk to you? Are you warm and inviting or cold and stand-offish? Do you ignore your spouse when they bring up things that are important to them or do you encourage them and let them know in your verbal and non-verbal body language that you are all ears?
Sometimes relationship issues crop up and then become worse and worse because they never get discussed and dealt with. Sometimes this is because both partners are avoiding the issues but sometimes one person’s reactions can be part of the problem. If your spouse tries to talk to you about your relationship issues and you ignore them or get sarcastic and rude, how are things being resolved and why would he or she ever want to approach you again?
Most of the time it’s easier to just ignore issues than it is to try and speak to someone that reacts in these ways, so one spouse might just shut down. This certainly doesn’t help anyone. All of your relationship issues need to be brought up and out in the open but no one can do that if the reaction they get is so negative.
Take a look at some examples of reactions that are just flat out WRONG and if you see yourself anywhere–stop playing and start pushing to get it RIGHT.
WRONG: when your spouse is talking you start walking….out the room, into the bathroom, in the kitchen, etc. It’s amazing how folks seem to get inspired to start cleaning up or cooking, etc. when an important topic comes up.
RIGHT: stop, pause, and pay attention when the love of your life has something important to share. Not pausing physically sends the message that you are unwilling to stop mentally and emotionally to hear what is on the heart of your spouse.
WRONG: texting, checking email, or just messing around on your cell phone, ipad, or some other computer device while your spouse is trying to talk to you.
RIGHT: In the age of social media it is far too easy to get distracted or sidetracked by a “ding” or vibration from your phone and now a days we act like we just have to see who or what it is right now. C’mon now. Show some respect. Turn the phone off or turn it to silent. You will spend far less in grief, hurt, and energy when you take 10, 15, or 30 minutes (and, yes, at times even more) to concentrate on what your spouse is feeling and thinking than you will with all of the half had conversations that will continue to keep popping up just because you won’t focus.
WRONG: Your spouse starts talking about an issue and you say something inappropriate like “Awwww, here we go!” or you let out a big sigh or say something sarcastic or rude like “It’s really not that serious is it?”. C’mon, do you really think comments like those are going to help when all is said and done?
RIGHT: If you find that it’s truly not a good time for you to talk try something like this: “Baby, I know this is important to you and I really do want to hear what you have to say but this isn’t the best time. Because, I don’t want you to think that I’m just trying to get out of having this conversation right now I want to suggest that we talk later on tonight after the kids are in the bed so we can have some uninterrupted time.
WRONG: Your spouse brings something up and there is dead (you can hear a pin drop) silence after they finish talking. 1 minute passes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes and you ain’t said NOTHING. Your spouse is wondering if you heard them, if you’re purposefully trying to aggravate them, should they repeat themselves….what?! They might as well be talking to a wall! (ya’ll can tell this one right here might be a little familiar and particularly annoying to me…lol.)
RIGHT: Any time any one says something to you, not just your spouse, it would do you well to acknowledge what has been said. How about a word of confirmation or validation? How about a “You know, what you said is really making me think. Let me think some more about what you said and get back with you”. The key here is to really follow up and get back with your spouse—not in like 5 days. My general rule of thumb is that you need to have something to say within the next 24 hours. Even, if you’re still pondering the issue you need to come back to your spouse and communicate some of your preliminary thoughts and schedule another time to continue with the conversation.
BLAM Fam, How important is it for us married folks to discipline ourselves in the reactions we give to our spouses when they come to us with something that is important to them?
Aiyana Ma’at is the wife of Ayize Ma’at, mom of 4, and co-founder and owner of this website, BlackLoveAndMarriage.com, as well as PurposePusher.com. Aiyana is a Seeker, Motivator, Risk Taker, Explorer, & Overcomer. She is a self-described PurposePusher and does her best to live her life with self-awareness and intention. Some of her official titles include licensed psycho-therapist, certified marriage educator & relationship coach and speaker. She is clear that a part of the call on her life is to help bring insight and awareness to others so that they can “get out of their own way” and create the lives they want to have.
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