Saturday, February 28

Resolving Conflicts - How to Fight Fair

Here's a quote I read in a book once:

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret"

No matter how wonderful a relationship is, and in marriage especially, there will inevitably be conflicts. Arguments, disagreements, miscommunication and unmet expectations are inevitable, because marriage brings two totally different people together. We have different backgrounds, different personalities, desires, views, priorities and different opinions. We do need to keep in mind though, that conflicts are not necessarily destructive, in fact they are potentially beneficial, because understanding and intimacy can grow if we resolve conflicts fairly. Hubby and I rarely have major battles on our hands, but once in a while, minor conflicts arise and I'm learning how to deal with them.

Hubby and I have had situations where a simple case of miscommunication leads to an argument. Then I am upset or angry and I feel I have to confront the issue otherwise there will be tension between us for ages. I've learnt that I can either attack the issue, ignore it and hope it will go away or try to discuss and negotiate. Of course the first two options are not ideal. Attacking the other person usually becomes counter-productive because they become defensive and unwilling to give up their position especially if they feel they are equally right too. On the other hand, if I choose to ignore it, resentment builds up and I'll probably explode at some point over a minor issue totally unrelated to the first one. So the best way to resolve a conflict is to bring it out into the open, be willing to express myself without judging or accusing hubby and making an effort to listen to his point of view. It helps too, if we talk without raising our voices because that helps us to really put thought into the words we speak. I've realised that yelling in anger does nothing except to further inflame an argument.

Then there's the issue of timing. There is no "perfect" time to air a grievance or start a difficult conversation. But if I really need to talk to hubby about something that has upset me, I should think about the ideal time to bring it up. Usually that is when both of us are calm and quite rational, not in a hurry, not too tired to listen or getting ready to go out. Sometimes it's better to let the issue rest for a day or so and talk about it after we've both had time to reflect on what went wrong. That helps us to understand where the other person is coming from.

Here's another quote:

In marriage, there are two phrases you must avoid at all costs: "you always" and "you never"

Why is that? Because once you start a discussion with either of those two phrases, you are automatically accusing the other party of some failure on their part. And it means we have stopped attacking the issue, instead we are now attacking the person. Imagine hearing stuff like this all the time:

"You never help me around the house"
"You are always grumbling about your job"
"You never spend quality time with me"
"You always come home late"

It doesn't mean there is no truth in these statements, but it has been distorted and exaggerated. It's better to express those feelings in a more productive and less accusatory way for example:

"I would really appreciate it if you helped me around the house a bit more"
"It upsets me to know that you are very unhappy about your job"
"I miss spending quality time with you, let's set aside some time to reconnect"
"I feel frustrated when you arrive home late. Would you please call me to let me know if you are going to be held up?"

This way, you are not attacking them, just honestly expressing your feelings about something. Also without the accusatory tone, the second set of statements make it easier for the other person to respond positively and try to find a solution. And ultimately that's what resolving conflicts should be about: working together to find solutions to issues we have to deal with.

That sums up the topic I want to discuss in this post and my next one. I won't claim that I have fully grasped the concept of resolving conflicts amicably all the time. What I will say is that I've noticed that when hubby and I have misunderstandings, I am calmer and more able to resolve things peacefully after I have prayed and asked God for wisdom. Sometimes God makes me realise that I can't hold grudges against hubby indefinitely. Sometimes God helps me to see things from a different perspective, so that I understand that things can't always go my way. And sometimes God gives me the courage to admit that I'm wrong and I need to change a particular flaw in my character. More about this topic in my next post!

As always, stay blessed and favoured.


Saturday, February 14

A Valentine's Day Poem


Last night I fell in love with you
All over again,
More deeply in love,
Than ever before.
No one has ever expressed their love for me
With such beautiful and kind words.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again,
With such stronger faith
Than ever before.
Knowing that you will always be there for me
When dark shadows enter my life.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With a stronger friendship
Than ever before
When ever I need a tender shoulder to cry on
I know you will wipe away the tears

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With more respect
Than ever before
I look up to you and admire your strength
In turn you have strengthen me

Last I fell in love with you
All over again
With such care
Than ever before
Now I truly believe how much you care for me
You have given me life.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With more happiness
Than ever before
You have brought back to me smiles and laughter
Through your loving eyes.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With more love
Than ever before
For the first time in a long time
I have really felt love.

Author: Cheryl Hornbeck

Saturday, February 7

Lessons From Time Apart

I was in Lagos this past Christmas break for three weeks. I went with my sisters and it was one big, happy family reunion. It was so much fun - an escape from the freezing weather in the UK , time spent with family and friends, weddings and parties to attend, reunions and get-togethers and lots of other cool activities. The only thing missing was that I wanted Mr to come with me, but he couldn't make it due to work commitments. We did try to stay in touch by phone everyday though.

Spending time apart wasn't bad though. I learnt a thing or two about my relationship with hubby while we were apart. I had a few hilarious reactions and experiences with people I met in Nigeria. Family and friends who knew I was married would ask: "Where is Mr?", "Why is he not here?", "How could you leave your husband alone in the cold to enjoy yourself in Lagos?" etc etc. But the funniest reactions I got were from people I was meeting for the first time.

The day after I arrived, I went to a party with my very good friend. Her friend was hosting a get-together and she didn't want to go alone so I tagged along with her. I didn't know anyone there, so I left her to make all the introductions. After some time, a guy came to talk to me. He seemed interesting and he was quite good looking and we were having a good conversation. When I told him I was married, and he did a double take and looked at my left hand. Then the started asking me questions like: "What, you're married?", "Are you sure?" ,"Where is your husband?", "How long have you been married?", "How come your husband let you travel on your own?". Then he also made comments like: "If I had a wife like you, I won't let her out of my sight". And my personal favourite: "You don't look married". I found these comments hilarious. I often don't know how to react when people say I don't look married. I wonder, how do married people look? Is there supposed to be a sign on my forehead to show that I am married?

Anyway we continued talking and then I suddenly realised something. I was enjoying the gist because it was a "getting to know you" conversation. You know the kind of conversation you have with someone you have just recently met, when you are keen to know how this person thinks, what they like and dislike, what they do, where they are coming from, etc. When it was time for us to leave the party, the guy was very reluctant to let me go, he kept asking for my number and arranging another meeting. I had no intention of calling or seeing him again in the future so I mumbled some stories and scampered off!

But later on I reflected on that meeting. I hadn't realised I was missing something in my relationship with hubby and that was the "newness". We have been together for almost seven years - that's including our dating years. I realised it had become easy for us to take each other for granted. So I determined that when I got back, I would put an effort into really getting to know him again - take him on a date or a holiday and "toast" him all over again. I don't think we can fully capture the freshness of a new meeting but we can take a step back and appreciate each other through new eyes.

About a week later, I went to another party with my friend again and when we got there, she introduced me a group of guys and one of them promptly attached himself to me. He was really nice, friendly and welcoming, offering to get me something to eat and drink. At first I thought he was being nice and hospitable so I didn't think much of it. As time went on, we got talking and I found out he was married too, but his wife was not at the party. I whispered to my friend that he's a bit of a flirt and she said he was only joking so I played along, chatting with him and allowing him to call me "his new girlfriend". He was funny and interesting to talk to at first. Things started taking a different turn when he started paying me suspicious compliments, saying he wishes he had met me before my husband, my name rhymes much better with his own surname and would I consider leaving Mr and marrying him instead. I asked him about his wife, and he was rather dismissive so I thought to myself, I think I better stop talking to this guy so he doesn't get the wrong message (I had heard enough stories about guys in Nigeria preferring to sleep with married girls nowadays because apparently they would not be bugging them for a serious commitment!). But the attention he was paying me was rather flattering on some level so I didn't say anything.

However I knew I was in trouble when we were dancing and he started getting too close for my comfort. Then he started asking for my UK mobile number! I snapped out of my daydream at once. What was he thinking? Like I would really give him my number and start carrying out a long-distance affair or something? Besides he is married too, so what about his own wife? I was so glad when my friend decided it was time to leave the party and I could escape. Imagine people present there thinking I was some kind of husband snatcher or worse!
Thinking about it later, I felt I didn't do anything wrong but perhaps I should have made it clear to him from the start instead of encouraging his advances. I learnt that I shouldn't let my guard down when I'm not with hubby. It may seem a bit extreme but it can prevent a whole lot of heart ache later.

On a funny note though, I reflected on how easy it would have been for someone in my shoes to have an affair in Lagos within such a short trip. And this is just a tip of the iceberg. Once I was accosted by a Lebanese guy in Shoprite.....

May God help all of us to keep our promises to Him and to our spouse.

Have a great weekend!
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