Ladies, admit it. To make a marriage stronger, there are times when we as women have to swallow our pride and voice the dreaded three words: "I was wrong."
To those with years of successful marital experience, this rings true. To those who are newlyweds or in a slightly dysfunctional relationship, these three words have the power to break down walls of resentment and mistrust. But ONLY if they are used in complete honesty.
Here are four ways to make that humble pie a bit easier to swallow.
1. Let go of your need to defend yourself. He may not have intended to offend you
Often times in the heat of the moment, you may feel attacked when in reality he may simply be expressing his feelings. Let your defensive mechanisms down. It is common to build a wall that clouds our judgment. Instead of truly listening to what is being expressed, we mentally stockpile a number of responses to prove a point, or defend ourselves. If your walls are down, it will be easier to listen and validate his feelings. You can always ask to have points clarified when you don't understand where he is coming from. Let the contention dissipate so you can have a level-headed conversation.
2. Don't attack
There is a difference between expressing your feelings, and attacking or accusing your husband. A thriving relationship greatly depends on your ability to support, uplift and understand him. When there are miscommunications, it takes work to stay on the same page. Nothing good can come from bringing your husband down. Name calling is a poor choice when what might really be going on is your own frustration at not understanding what your own feelings are.
3. Wording is everything
Choose your words wisely. If you know he's not going to like what you have to express, prepare him. Sit down together somewhere quiet and free from distraction. Assure him of your love for him and tell him you have something you would like to discuss. This preparation will help him to feel safe, and bring openness to the discussion. Ask him to be open and listen and to kindly communicate if you are indeed being unfair. Sometimes it is difficult to communicate what we feel because we aren't exactly sure what we feel. Words said may be an attempt to describe our feelings, and often times we misspeak. Clarify, clarify, clarify. And likewise, don't hang on every single word he says, he may misspeak as well from time to time. Ask for clarification. There is a difference between, "You always forget to take out the garbage!" and "I really appreciate when you remember to take out the garbage." One evokes disappointment and frustration, the other kindness and appreciation. Admit when you misspeak. "I didn't mean that, what I really meant is..." Wording is everything.
4. Admit when you are intentionally being bratty
You can actually feel when you are being stubborn. Sometimes there is a little realization in your head that occurs and you can feel yourself being irrational. Granted, there are times when you are hormonally challenged or imbalanced, but that is no excuse for poor behavior. Admitting to your husband that you are having a hard time controlling your emotions can help. He may learn to be more sympathetic and understanding. You may learn to control your crazy emotions when they feel the most out of control. It is possible. It is difficult. It doesn't work all of the time, but I guarantee your husband will appreciate your efforts rather than having the "PMS" card thrown at him as an excuse for your poor behavior.
A marriage is unique and beautiful when there is progress as a couple grows closer to one another. That will not happen if you belittle his contribution and fail to acknowledge his strengths in the relationship. Fight the misconceptions that it is the "wife's way or the highway" all of the time. Real love and growth comes from leaning on one another's strengths, and helping each other identify and strengthen weaknesses. The better you are at facilitating that growth through acknowledgement, honesty and good communication, the better your marriage will be.
A parent basically has to muddle her way through the 18-plus-year adventure, rubbing her eyes from the sleep deprivation. When you approach a mother in the wild, go easy. And maybe avoid these observations or questions when talking to a mom of teens.