Before I got married, I was desperate for someone to give me some advice. I thought that there would be some kind of pre-marital counselling or advice course, but we were offered nothing…. All I had were two books: “Men are from Mars…” and “The 5 Love Languages”. I must say that these books have served me well and that without them, my marriage would be significantly different, but some verbal advice from another human being would have been nice too.
However, after 3 years of marriage and rather too many ups and downs, I now feel confident to give some advice of my own.
The first thing would be:
“Let it go.”
It’s such a human desire to bite back when someone hurts or criticises you, but this only leads arguments to escalate. Let it go. Instead of biting back, bite your tongue and breathe. Try to imagine what has motivated the bitter comment that has wounded you, then continue the visualization exercise by imagining what your spouse’s response to your answer will be. In my opinion, arguments are usually very predictable. With a little imagination you can script the dialogue in your head before it even happens.
This doesn’t mean of course that you bypass communication or keep the dialogue all in your head, but it will help you to realise HOW futile arguing really is.
The other day my husband was angry with me and we would have argued, but I was working and so instead, he wrote me a letter, expressing his feelings. When I finished working I sat down to read it and was able to listen to his words in a very powerful way, which never would have been possible if we had been arguing. When he arrived home later I was still upset by his words and in a very mixed frame of mind. Part of me wanted to apologise for the hurt I’d caused him, whereas the rest of me felt indignant and was picking fault with him; I wanted to respond to every point of his letter with a justification or an attack on him. I felt so incapable of expressing myself honestly that I remained silent…
I went back to work after lunch and by the time I’d finished my shift I was in a much calmer state; I was able to approach him gently and apologise and we talked together about what had happened.
I had prepared a list of grievances against him in response to his letter, but I decided to just let it go, as it wouldn’t lead to anything.
In marriage you have to let things go. Let them go and pray that God will help you forgive and forget them, as we’re not generally very good at doing this ourselves.