Aug 062014 4 Responses

I Can Say It and It Won’t Kill Us

One of the blessings of a maturing marriage is a growing awareness that we can navigate the difficult issues of life without those issues hurting our marriage. Actually, they can have the opposite influence. If a couple learns to confront the difficult issues, communicate them properly, and work through them, a marriage can be stronger, not weaker.

This is one of my greatest struggles.

My inward dialogue has always been, “If I say it, they might not love me.” It’s true at work, with friends, and especially in marriage. My first response is always to mask what frustrates me or angers me. This is a strength as a pastor; an old professor used to say, a pastor is only allowed to lose his temper once in public. It hasn’t even been once for me (yet).

However, what might be a strength as a pastor is a weakness as a leader and detriment as a husband.

Marriage requires open communication about what one likes, dislikes, enjoys, is frustrated by, etc. Without open communication, a couple has no chance of understanding what their spouses feels, wants, expects, or desires. It leaves the spouse assuming, guessing, or living in a constant state of confusion. (See: It’s Not My Job to Read Your Mind)

For a healthy marriage, we must be able to communicate things which displease us.

Years of marriage has taught me there is safety in our relationship. While my first response is still “Don’t say it,” my second response is more useful, “I can say it and it won’t kill us.”

It’s a true statement. I can say what is on my mind and it will not kill our relationship. It might make it uncomfortable in the moment. It can even cause a day to have frustration. But the relationship will not die. We will work through whatever the frustration is and we will not only return to happiness, we will likely be happier in the long run. (See: The Warning Sign of a Bad Marriage You Might Miss)

Notice: I’m afraid to say something for fear that it might hurt our relationship, but it is far more dangerous not to say something. Failing to communicate frustrations, differing expectations, and displeasures is of much more danger than consistently holding those topics in. Without communicating them, I can begin to hold a grudge and my spouse has no ability to understand what is upsetting me or do anything about it.

Of course not every frustration needs to be communicated. Every time something doesn’t go my way, I’m not obligated to speak. It’s probably useful to keep to oneself most minor issues. However, if a behavior or situation repeats, I should speak.

I shouldn’t speak in a way which assumes I am right. I shouldn’t speak in a way which assumes I know the whole story. I shouldn’t speak in a way that is disrespectful or condemning. (See: Criticism–How to Speak So Others Listen)

I should share my feelings, desires, and wishes. But I should do so in a way that is quick to hear the understanding, desire, and wishes of my spouse.

If we do that on a consistent basis, we will have a satisfying relationship. It won’t be perfect and we will both be very aware of its imperfections, but it will be far better than if we never communicated what frustrates us.

Say it; it won’t kill you. And if saying something could lead to the death of your relationship, the relationship is so deeply flawed it wasn’t the words that led to its death.

For more, see:

You Hurt My Feelings

I’m Tired of Being Nice


4 Responses to I Can Say It and It Won’t Kill Us
  1. […] I’m always amazed at what a little extra communication can do to change the nature of a relati...
  2. […] There is only one difference between the two. (See: I Can Say It and It Won’t Kill Us) […...
  3. […] But often it is not. (See: I Can Say It and It Won’t Kill Us) […]...
  4. […] 4. Rebuke Her. Couples disagree. No healthy relationship can exist without healthy disagreement. Spo...

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