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Stephanie Clinton is a blogger, writer, community volunteer and housework avoider. But first and foremost she is a wife and mom of two little boys. She and her husband have been married for 14 years and reside in their marital bliss in Oklahoma. In the blogging world Stephanie is a Community Manager for Oklahoma Women Bloggers and a guest speaker for Arkansas Women Bloggers University. She can be found waxing poetic (or not so poetic) about humor, parenting, faith and daily life on her blog Hugs, Kisses and Snot.
Every time I sat down to write this blog post I would stare at my screen and come up blank. Not to mention the summer time interruptions. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get anything productive done when little people are hovering over you asking you to cut out bird wings and tape them to their back? Or hearing little hands spill out 3,000 Lincoln Logs and then seeing puppy dog eyes looking up at you in a plea to build a frontier village? Or mopping up wet footprints tracked in from sprinkler adventures and cleaning up drips from popsicles? While summer time for a stay at home mom may be fun no one ever said it was productive.
After a long day of play dates, shuttling kids to and from day camp, doing the infinitieth load of laundry; I crawled into bed, snuggled up against my husband and sought his advice for this post.
Me: I’m writing a blog post for a marriage website. Can you help me think of tips and advice for a healthy marriage? Ones that don’t sound cliche? And something other than have lots of sex?
Him: Tips that aren’t cliche? Ummmmmmm. Communicate?
Him: But it’s true.
Me: Yeah, I know. But every marriage article says that.
Him: Ummmmmm. How about scratching your spouse’s back?
Me: (scratching his back) For reals. I need ideas.
I can easily think of 5 tips off the top of my head that will help maintain a healthy marriage. Go on dates without the kids, have honest conversations, initiate sex, don’t go on a shopping spree and then try and hide it, don’t turn down every single advance, kiss each other in front of the kids. But you can find that advice on any old marriage blog. Not that they aren’t important or relevant, but I don’t want to repeat information if it’s already out there in droves.
So what can I say that hasn’t already been said in volumes of marriage books and blogs? All I can do is draw from my own experience. I’m not a marriage counselor but I know how I want to be treated and how I don’t want to be treated. While saying “communicate with your spouse” seems like a no-brainer, it’s important to add that how you communicate is just as important as the act of talking itself. Screaming and name calling is a form of communication but not what I have in mind for a loving relationship.
There is one simple thing that couples seem to forget over time…the golden rule. For some reason couples seem to think it’s okay to lash out at their spouse verbally, even when they would be hurt and angry if they were treated that way. I have watched couples talk to each other or about each other in front of others in a way that is embarrassing to everyone. One might belittle the other or bark out demands like they are talking to a lowly servant. I’ve watched couples argue with each other in front of their friends, calling each other ugly names (too ugly to repeat on this wholesome site) and cursing each other out. I always wonder, if they can talk her in public like that, emasculate him in front of others, treat their spouse like dirt in front of friends; then what in the world must they be like to each other in private? It’s a scary thought.
Words and the tone in which they are said can truly be hurtful and can cut deep with a lasting wounds. The thing with words is that once they are said, they can’t be unsaid and even though you may apologize it is really difficult to forget words said in anger that are meant to do harm. Especially if those words are spoken time and time again, year after year. Arguments happen in every marriage but that doesn’t mean you have to treat your spouse the way you want to treat a DMV worker. Some couples might say that arguing and harsh words is just their way. I would be willing to bet that their way won’t stand the test of time. Nobody wants to be treated and talked to like an animal for 50 years.
Before you blow your top and direct it at the person you vowed to love and cherish, take a moment. Think of how you talk to or respond to your spouse as the golden rule of communication. Imagine how you feel when those stingers are directed at you. And when they do come your way remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. Returning hateful words with the same never settled any argument peacefully.
How do you like to be treated in communication?