I love my wife. Truly. Madly. Deeply. (Shoutout to Savage Garden on this Throwback Thursday)
When we met, I was-in her words-“a child”. To set the record straight, I was 24 years old. She was 27, so she had 3 extra years of experiences, joys, and setbacks in comparison to my ripeness of adulthood. It’s funny, as I am now 27, I would’ve felt the same way had the tables been turned. The mid-20’s can be incredibly formative years, and both her and I transformed in our own right during that time in our lives. Luckily, as a babyfaced 24 year old, I was able to woo her enough to come on a few dates with me. Over the course of those dates and our impending long distance relationship (we lived an hour and a half apart for a year), I think she saw that-my age aside- I was genuinely a good guy who was falling HARD for her.
We had chemistry like I had never had before in my life. Sparks flew, hearts thumped, etc. Friends of ours would often wonder (still do, actually) if we ever fought.
“It’s natural to fight.”
“If you’re not fighting, you don’t really care about each other.”
“Everybody fights at some point. It’s inevitable.”
I’d be here all day if I listed all the common “everybody fights” comments that us humans throw around.
We’ve been together for about 3 years now, and I honestly don’t think we’ve ever fought. No bullshit. I don’t think that we have. Why?
We disagree well.
We’ve had some tough conversations during our time together. Absolutely. We will certainly have more. We’re human. The thing is, though, when we find ourselves disagreeing about something we don’t throw up a wall of defense and start yelling because the other person doesn’t agree with our standpoint. We look for why the other feels the way they do instead of asking “How could you…?” In my past, I was in the camp of “I’m right, you’re wrong, let’s battle this out until you see why I’m right”. Christina has truly taught me to be a better communicator, especially when it matters most: THE TOUGH CONVERSATIONS.
One particular conversation that comes to mind was shortly after I moved to be with her in her hometown. I got a job at a school nearby, we were finally going to be living together, we both couldn’t have been happier.
Then we actually moved in. Two adults that have been living separately for 20+ years can’t move into a one bedroom apartment together without some friction. We both had expectations for certain things, whether it was because the way were raised in our homes as kids or how we had developed as adults. For the most part, we did okay during the transition. The one thing that seemed to be the biggest problem was, you guessed it:
The Bedroom Dressers
The what? Yes, the bedroom dressers. I moved in with my dresser from back home, and she brought her’s from the apartment she lived in prior. After we unpacked all of the big stuff, we started bringing out pictures of family and friends. I walked into the bedroom and found that she had placed pictures of some of her friends on my dresser. For some reason, this annoyed me. Don’t get me wrong, I love her friends. It’s just that I had some pictures of me and my friends that I figured would find their way onto my dresser.
Like I said, I was annoyed. I voiced this annoyance, and she was upset that I was so annoyed about it. Why was it such a big deal? After some awkward tension, we sat down and started to talk it out. I knew that it wasn’t a huge deal, but I felt territorial about it for whatever reason. After sitting in my thoughts for a bit, I asked her what her parents bedroom dresser situation is.
“What do you mean?”
“Does your dad have his dresser and your mom have her’s, or do they share the space?”
“Well I always saw them as ‘their dressers’. I don’t think one was specifically my dad’s or my mom’s.”
The light bulb went off. Growing up, if I walked into my parents bedroom, it was a clear divide whose dresser was whose. My dad had signed baseballs and basketballs along with tie clips and other trinkets of his on his dresser. My mom had a jewelry box, some pictures of her, my dad, my siblings, etc. There wasn’t anything aggressive or territorial about their setup, it was just what I grew up seeing. Reflecting back on those experiences, I probably just expected to have my things on my dresser, and Christina would have her things on her’s. Once I was able to express that I subconsciously reacted the way that I did, the problem was no longer a problem. She understood why I viewed the dresser the way that I did, and we moved some things around to make both of us more comfortable.
It was a tough transition for both of us, going from two sets of individual things to everything being ours. We wouldn’t have gotten through as well as we had if we ignored the opportunity to not only have the tough conversations, but dig deep into them, past the surface of the problem.
The tough conversations deserve the deep digging. That’s where you can weed out resentment and bitterness. It will prevent your need to run to your friends and complain about your spouse. If you tell your partner what is bothering you and are genuine in trying to find a solution, you won’t have anything to complain about to those friends of yours.
It’s worth the awkward tension and the momentary vulnerability.
What do you want more? Your pride or your partner?
Until next time friends…