I'm here with my husband Ryan today and we are sharing our 5 tips for healthy communication in our marriage!
For all the deets, listen to our full podcast below.
I met Ryan when he was 11 years old and I was 12. We were at a community pool and sparks were flying. Okay, maybe not so much. We were pre-teens and super goofy and awkward around each other. But give us a few years and we got on board with the whole not being awkward thing. At 14 years of age, we both admitted to one another our crushes (so middle school, right?) and started 'dating.' I put dating in air quotes, because we weren't technically allowed to date at the time, so it was more like supervised friendship with our parents or siblings always around. But it didn't matter to us, we were head over heels in love! Not out of the ordinary for middle schoolers, but what was different is that we actually made it. We made it out of the awkward tweens, the midde school years of unsurety, and the tulmutous time of high school, going off the college and finding yourself.
We've been together for over 10 years and are still as madly in love as the day we admitted our goofy crushes to each other at church. ;)
How have we managed to stay so in love. Two words. Healthy Communication.
So today, we're going to jump into our 5 tips for Healthy Communication from two middle school sweethearts. Ready for it? Okay, let's go!
1. UNDERSTANDING THEIR VALUES
Every person has different values, but we tend to treat people the way WE expect to be treated. And hey, the golden rule isn't a bad one. But sometimes, it plain doesn't work.
Why? Because we aren't all made the same. We grow up different, have different parents, varying life experience. Because of this, we ALL have different values and we can't EXPECT people to operate on our own. In our marriage, we've found that the love language tests online really help you determine what some of your values are. I really value quality time, where as Ryan really values words of affirmation. If I keep giving him my time, but never praise him or verbally thank him for what he does for me, he feels hurt. If he tells me how great I am, but doesn't make time for the little things I value, I feel hurt. So understanding your love languages and your values is a huge thing.
This is also a BIG conversation when it comes to money. (More on that it another podcast). But couples can definitely have different opinions on how money should be used and when. Neither viewpoint is evil or necessarily wrong, but making sure both people feel valued and heard is important. Before we even got married, we talked through our values and we continue to do this every year to make sure we are treating each other the way they dream of being treated.
2. DON'T BE AFRAID OF HEALTHY FIGHTING
Now, I'm not talking 'throwing chairs around the room'. But there is a healthy way to fight. Engage in conversation, even if it’s hard and could lead to tension. Fighting is better than passivity.
Disagreeing to have your thoughts known is not necessarily bad. We all got married with the hope to be known and understood, so that is PART of marriage. But disagreements turn into a problem when you are trying to wound the other person. Ryan and I fight, but we always, always, always try to remember to never wound, and to never attack the other person’s character or heart.
There have been times that I don't want to "fight," so I never mention that my heart is hurt from something. And then it's natural to resort to bitterness and passive aggressive comments that actually do MORE damage than the fighting even would have. So learn to EXPRESS yourself and ENGAGE with the one you love, even if it causes some tension. If you're both committed to not wounding the other person... but instead coming to a safe place together, you'll be all the better for it.
3. MAKE THEM THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN EVERY ROOM
We learned this from my parents. As soon as my mom walks in a room, my dad takes notice of her. Whenever my dad is up on stage speaking, my mom leans over and makes a comment about how smart or goodlooking he is. It is clear they adore each other.
So whenever Ryan and I are out, we still make intentional action to notice the other person. Whether we are at church, at work, or out with friends, every few minutes we'll look at each other, Ryan will squeeze my hand, we'll send each other texts, or lean into one another. This let's the other person know, "hey, I know we're with all these people, but you are the most important person in this room to me." Being noticed and adored is a feeling that will give you butterflies in your tummy again. :)
4. BELIEVE THE BEST
Always believe the best about your spouse. Whether you're hurt about something they did or fighting with one another, understand that their HEART was probably not out to hurt you. Remember that they probably just operate on different values and don't even understand that the way they said "that one thing" could have been hurtful. Believing the best helps you FIGHT FAIR. Don't demonize your spouse. They are not the enemy and are rooting FOR you. Sometimes you just have to talk out your values to come to that place.
5. HAVE AN ANNUAL TIME TO RECONNECT
Every year, we try and do something special for our anniversary. And we don't just go on a trip, but we take that time to talk about our lives, debrief about our year, ask for forgiveness for the ways we may have hurt the other, find ways to do life better together, and talk through our future goals. Let's face it, we change. And if you're with someone for 10 years, they are going to change too. But you CAN fall in love with them in each new season....it just takes some intentionality. So be intentional. Check in with one another weekly, quarterly, yearly to make sure you are both doing your part and walking in sync. Sometimes you won't be and will need to re-adjust, and that's okay. But if you are committed to the other person, these meetings will be healing to your heart and will re-bond and re-connect you over and over again.
So that's it for today, folks! Our 5 tips to healthy community from us dorky middle school sweethearts. To hear all the stories, listen to the podcast above and don't forget to leave us a review if you found it helpful!
(and here's a freebie for ya, a very embarrassing yet adorbs photo of us when we first met.)
Talk to ya later, friends! <3
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3