As little girls (or boys because some boys do dream about their wife) we dream about being married and having children and living happily ever after as all princesses do…we get married…and then reality sets in. Our husbands aren’t always the Prince Charming we expected as little girls…sometimes they can just be headaches…sorry guys but I am sure we have given you a few too.
We expect our spouse to be like us and find that we are frustrated when this
proves not to be the case. What once was a meeting of minds has now turned into what seems like a battle of wills. Why did our prince suddenly turn into a frog?
Well, there are couple of things I have learned not only from my short time being married but also from my background in anthropology. First and probably the most important factor in any relationship is our background. No two people, even those growing up in the same home, have the same background. Each has lead different lives and had different experiences that taint how we see things and how we communicate. In my husband’s family it is normal to be loud, abrupt and to interrupt people…in fact there is a joke that if you are not called a dumb s**t by his father, then you aren’t part of the family. My husband has said that many people have thought he and his father were arguing when to them they were just talking, having a conversation. My husband, his son and daughter are all extremely loud to the point I get a headache but that is their norm.
My family on the other hand will interrupt but its during a conversation that most would say is a conversation, not an argument. We embrace people as family instantly and consider a raised voice with bite to be yelling. We also are very much involved in each other’s lives. If my brothers or I were too loud, the behavior was corrected immediately.
These differences shape how we interact, our expectations and what we accept in others. Since our backgrounds are different, this can also lead to a difference in ideas. The more different your background from the other person, the more likely the different ideas and the more likely the opportunity for conflict.
Second is something I Learned from reading Deborah Tannen’s book You Just Don’t Understand and others. When we first start dating we focus on what we have in common and dismiss what we don’t as getting to know each other. But when we are married or have been in a relationship a while, the opposite is true. We expect our significant other to understand us because of all people should know the real us and tend to focus on areas that you don’t mesh or work. We get frustrated and upset…and end up with a lot of headaches.
There are things I have found that can counter that. I have found the art of compromise is helpful…sometimes. One such compromise for us dealt with decorating. Ultimately we agreed to split 51/49. I have the 51% i had final say on the inside of our home if we can’t agree on something but he has the same 51% controlling share outside. It doesn’t mean we don’t try to work to agree but we compromised that there would be a decider for each area.
Walking away when you are too angry to talk helps…but let your partner know you will becoming back to finish the conversation.
If all else fails, you can always politely agree to disagree. My husband and I have had to do this on details of our faith and on politics. We do disagree strongly and will not be swayed by the other, so the only option was to respect each other’s position BUT also acknowledge that we are not changing our minds.
I hope to share more on my man-child (husband) throughout my blogging and what we have learned as we go.