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We are jumping back into some more crucial conversations today . Last week, we addressed “The Talk”, The Budget, & The DTR before marriage.
Today, we’re going to touch on The DTR within marriage, Setting Boundaries, and Embracing Differences.
First, something that we really want you to keep in mind as we go through these, is the idea that meaningful communication stems from your identity.
When you communicate from a place of identity and purpose, you foster dialogue and encourage sincere conversation, even when you disagree. Because it isn’t about being right or wrong; it’s about your values.
This also allows you to grow more accustomed to listening for the identity and purpose and values of others.
And, we intentionally left religion and/or politics out of our scenarios, and here’s why.
Values are a discussion that you have together and clarify with yourself about the why behind it all. We can’t tell you what that is!
But, rather than say, I’m a Christian, and I would love for you to be a Christian, too – I teach my kids: I believe in the principle of grace, I believe in mercy. I also believe in justice, and progression, and growth, and because of these values, I love who Jesus is. I love the character of the God I know.
Rather than say, I’m a Republican, or I’m a Democrat, or I’m a Libertarian, we can teach our kids – I believe in agency, I believe in the value of a free market. I also believe that we are responsible to help our neighbors, to lift where we stand, to treat the people around me with kindness, and I vote accordingly.
This process is going to look different for everyone, but it isn’t an association – it’s because I have personal values that are integral to who I am and who I want to be, and I try to live by them.
You can even bring family history and history in when you teach or talk about your principles, because you are sharing experiences and your personal why behind why you value what you value.
In other words, we teach our values, we teach our why, and then – we let others do the same. So, yes, talk about religion, talk about politics, be willing to get uncomfortable, like we talked about last week, but secure that in your identity.
And we hope you will do the same for these conversations, too.
#4: The DTR
For our first tip, emotional intimacy is the foundation for healthy communication in marriage. We mentioned this a while back, but, when everyone says “communication is the key to a healthy marriage”, we believe what they are really getting at is – don’t get lax about the emotional intimacy piece in your marriage.
If you try to talk about hard and uncomfortable things without this foundation – 9 times out of 10 it is going to backfire on you. Joe and I have been through this ourselves over the last couple of years.
We had our kids and suddenly most of our conversations started centering around the day-to-day running of the house rather than continually getting to know each other, and talking about what was really hard or really good for us.
It began to feel like when we needed to talk about something serious, that was all we did – crisis mode. There was a noticeable connection missing that we are still intentionally working to re-create.
So, keep asking questions of each other, even when things are good. We challenge ourselves with as little as 10 minutes a day, just connecting – not crisis mode, and not wrote conversation, but:
- What do you want more of and less of in our lives right now?
- What is your favorite candy bar? (because for some of us, that changes, haha!)
- What is a hobby you would love to have more time for?
- How did you feel about your day today? Were there moments that made you laugh? Or made you upset?
Help your spouse re-kindle and own their identity as a human being and not just as a provider or a caregiver. Offer them that space. Keep that emotional intimacy alive. Then, when it comes time to talk about hard or uncomfortable things, you are better-equipped to tackle conflict as a team.
Our next tip is to create space to communicate, so that that avenue is always open.
My therapist actually suggested having a “weekly planning meeting” in lieu of a “DTR”. She suggested, ask each other at least weekly how your marriage is going. How am I doing as a spouse? What do you need help with right now? What can I do better? But frame it within the context of a weekly planning meeting so that it doesn’t feel as heavy.
For example, you can also talk about your schedule with the kids, set up who is in charge of date night, review your to-do list for the week, etc… That way, it doesn’t feel like you are always diving deep or negative, but rather you create a space for concerns to be brought to each other’s attention.
It helps lessen the “business” conversations during the week, and that line of communication is always open so you don’t shut down and check out.
I really love that advice. We haven’t gotten great at it yet, but I think we’ve gotten better, and we often talk in the car when we are re driving our kids to sleep, haha!
And our last tip is to try to consider your spouse’s feelings as well as your own when tensions run high. Assume the best. Be willing to listen. Ask yourself, what is behind what I see? – feelings like hurt or anger, or actions that you might not love or understand.
#5: Setting Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries, both physical and emotional, is a crucial component of knowing and loving who you are. Some of our tips include:
- It’s okay to say no.
- Trust your instincts & your physical responses.
- You have autonomy over your body.
- Use your emotional energy wisely. Filter it!
- Validation ≠ Agreement. You don’t always have to agree or disagree.
- Even good intentions require filters sometimes.
- Weigh the value of the relationship versus the boundary that has been crossed.
- Refining relationships doesn’t have to mean cutting someone out of your life. Look at platforms such as social media, phonecalls, texts, in person. You may also look at adding a third party to your interactions.
- Know when/when not to use tact.
- Look for what you need and what they need in order to make this relationship work.
Just like we mentioned last week with “the talk”, when we don’t talk about something – when we make it “taboo”. We perpetuate fear and a lack of safety.
So, we believe talking about differences is a crucial conversation! And this has a lot of different facets to it.
Particularly as a parent, there are a lot of things I want to address with my kids when it comes to differences: socioeconomic status, body size, skin tone, mental health, religious beliefs…
I’m so adamant about having these conversations, because I want our kids to be equipped to be kind, and that means being equipped with the ability to understand, label, and name differences – and then say – differences are more than okay, they are unique, incredible gifts. Rather than ignoring differences in order to feel okay.
- Expose yourself and your kids to different people and situations, and when you feel uncomfortable, question why that is. I think this is one of the biggest things we can do to steer clear of entitlement. We talk about being kind – this is what being kind looks like. And also work ethic. And gratitude! Not taking for granted that you and your problems and your universe are the center of the world.
- Along with that, learn to confront things with your inner self and cut the comparison out. Embracing differences helps you do this, because it means you know who you are. You’re okay calling yourself out when you learn something new. You don’t have to be like so-and-so down the street in order to be of value. And therefore, they don’t have to be like you. Again, it all comes back to who do I want to be? and how can I act accordingly? Not – am I “right”? Am I “acceptable”? Am I “at fault” or not? But – am I living in alignment with my values, purpose, and identity? So, whatever the differences, strip away reactionary and communicate from that place – from a place of security in who you are.
And we know that this is all a work in progress, so, please, remember to give yourself grace along the way!
Recap: Here is the list of tips I promised from last week and this week!
One-Liner: Communication that stems from your identity is not about changing each other’s minds; it’s about seeing each other’s hearts.
Journal Prompt: Last season, we had a lot of action items that were actually journal prompts. Today we have a journal prompt that is more of an action item. We want you to ask someone with a viewpoint different from yours about a hard topic. Ask, “why do you feel so strongly about this, and are there any experiences that have led you to believing the way you do?”. You can even take a minute to write down what you learn, and there you go! Journal prompt! 😂
❤ Jenny & Joe