Category Archives: communication

Would You Marry Yourself?

About a week before Captain Laser Pants popped the question, I was talking to an old acquaintance of mine. After a years- long relationship, his ex had left him because it wasn’t moving forward. He compared all other women to her. At the time of this conversation, he told me he was “casually” dating between three and five women simultaneously and wondered why none of them took him seriously enough to have a real relationship with him. I guffawed and asked him if the situation had been reversed, how he would react. He sighed dramatically and commented on my wisdom (of course) before asking me about my relationship. I told him it was awesome, which was totally true, and he asked me how I was so happy. I told him, “To find the one, you have to be the one. I may not be ‘the one’ yet, but I’m sure working on it.” He told me that I was going to make CLP a very happy man. That was the last time I’ve spoken with him.

Maybe I was too harsh with him, but, let’s be honest- no one wants to settle down with a serial dater. Did he want to date the female version of himself? No way.

It’s a good litmus test, if you’re honest. Would you marry yourself? I sure as heck wouldn’t marry me. Want some reasons why? Here you go!

-I am really forgetful about important stuff (like paying bills or renewing my driver’s license) but have an acute memory for the utterly mundane (“there are four snaps on mini Gwinn’s romper!”)
-I am moody. There, I said it.
-Sometimes my very rational brain goes nuts and shuts down. Much like a robot’s hard drive.
-I’m not really affectionate, but I like to get a hug once in a while.
-I am super critical

I’m working on the critical attitude- being forgiving and emotionally generous will be paramount as my baby grows older. My moodiness is usually as a result of something incredibly petty, like forgetting trash day. Managing my emotions isn’t my partner’s responsibility, it’s my own. There are areas of “me” that I’m working on still (like my thighs). It’s pretty obvious that if I married myself, all the bills would be forgotten, but all clothes would be organized by color and style in each closet. Dinner may be made, but if me and myself are losing the house due to foreclosure, it doesn’t really matter. I need a partner, not a clone.

This is kind of a two- point blog. Not only do we need spouses who complement us, we need to first be the kind of “work in progress” person that “the one” will want to complete. I’m not saying you have to be perfect before you’re going to find your other half. But doing things like hip- checking your own selfishness, for instance, can make or break a good day in a marriage. Sometimes it amazes me with the blatant selfishness I see displayed in marriage, and honestly, it makes me pity the other spouse. It’s always a two way street (believe me I know), but if we laid down the weapons in a relationship and tried empathizing with the other, I can’t help but wonder how much more peacefully resolution can be found as a team, and not two opposing sides.

I asked CLP if he would marry himself, and he responded with, “I’m more likely to marry a Choco Taco”. He wouldn’t marry himself because he and I are two halves to a whole. Would I marry myself? No. But are there traits in my personality that make my marriage great? Absolutely. He and I both have plenty to work on as individuals, but because we empathize with one another and connect on a daily basis, we are so much better together than we are separate.

This is all over the place, really just a stream of consciousness blog. Maybe something more coherent will come up in the future!


If Apple Made Free Weights

Is there an app for making iPhones really heavy at the gym to emulate lifting free weights? I’m not really tech savvy, especially when it comes to Apple products (ew), so I could be completely missing this nifty application. Are they called iWeights?

What’s that you say? This idea is preposterous?

That’s precisely my point. If you (the existential “you”, not YOU) are at the gym, walking on the treadmill at it’s slowest pace, yammering on your cell phone, what is being accomplished? Aside from taking up space on the cardio machine, just going to the gym isn’t really enough to jump start weight loss or healthy living. Example- I went to the gym on Thursday with every intention of staying for an hour to do a full body weight training circuit. As I dropped off mini Gwinn, I saw a large woman in small spandex situate herself on a leg lift machine while talking on her phone. “Whatever,” I thought, as I started up my warm up. About fifteen minutes later, after I had finished my warm up and tricep weights, I made my way back to the leg machines. The woman on her phone was still sitting on the leg lift machine. I worked around her, doing the calf raises and the other leg machines, until, finally, I could avoid it no longer. I glared at her. She was laughing, licking her leg against the resistance bar, literally doing nothing. Why take the effort to shove one’s self into spandex (which I suppose I could assume was a workout in itself), drive to the gym, only to talk on the phone? She was eating into my workout time and was accomplishing nothing simultaneously. Once she finally noticed me staring ninja death stars at her, she looked irritated that I wanted to use her chair. She finally got up and I was able to continue.

Run with this, tubby!

Let me clarify. I don’t “hate” “fat” people. Her complete lack of consideration and her all encompassing laziness are why I’m still mad about this today. “How do you know she wasn’t injured?” Please, if you’re politically correct, your feelings are hurt easily, or you make excuses all the time, please stop reading my blog for forever. I know she wasn’t injured because she was having an animated conversation on her phone. If someone is trying to work through something or work on something at the gym, they are not there to have a thirty minute phone conversation. If you have to walk on the slowest pace possible on the treadmill because that’s where you are physically, I am cheering for you in my heart and head for trying. I think it is freaking awesome that you are taking those steps to improve your health! If you’re walking on the slowest possible pace on the treadmill because you’re not coordinated enough to talk and walk, then I hope you fall off so someone who wants to use the treadmill productively can get on it. Is this harsh? Maybe. Am I right? Yes.

Look deeper into this “laziness at the gym” issue. Our society and technological age highly encourage us all to engage in multiple conversations at once, take in several types of media simultaneously, and divide our attention completely. When was the last time you looked at your phone? Facebook? Email account? It is now considered the social norm if people have their cell phones out at group gatherings or dinner. People text and drive while their children are screaming in the back seat. Parents look at pictures of their children while their children are sitting in front of them. Text message conversations to seven different people carry on through the day.

When was the last time your attention was completely focused on one thing?

My sister told me a story of a time (this was years ago) that she and her husband met a monk (I don’t remember where) and what he had to say was brief and wise- Whatever you’re doing, do it fully. If you’re driving, drive (dear God, drive with your full attention. Please). If you’re with your children, be with your children. If you’re eating, eat the meal fully and enjoy how it tastes, how it fills you. Be there. I don’t want my baby to remember me with a phone in my hand, and I don’t want to miss all the amazing things he does because Facebook has some crappy update I just “have to see”. Seeing the woman at the gym was a great reminder for me to “be there”, wherever “there” is.

Sippers and Shooters

I am somewhat obsessed with personality sorters and tests. Captain Laser Pants finds it exhausting when I talk about fictional characters and their four letter personality label; I find it fascinating to be able to “type” a person and work out (in my head) how to interact with them. In case you are as nerdy/ weird as I am, I am an INTJ (introverted – intuitive – thinking – judging) and have been since I was 16 or 17, and my DISC profile has a ridiculously high DC with a crazy low IS.

What does this have to do with the price of eggs?

When it comes to people, I am often intrigued by the inner workings of their minds- how they think, why they think and do what they think and do, and the best ways for me to approach interaction with them (yes, that sounds very scientific, but it’s true). If the world answered my suggestion box, everyone would have a name tag with their Keirsey Temperament type written on it. So it should come as no surprise, then, that I enjoy dissecting and analyzing relationships. Some people are sippers and some are shooters.


For people that drink, you probably picked up the reference by the title. People that like wine, for instance, usually sip, taking in the bouquet of flavors and enjoying the aroma as they slowly drink. Those that enjoy shots, however, take in the whole of the drink in one fell swoop. Approaches to relationships can be categorized (loosely!) in these two ways- those that are “sippers” and those that are “shooters”. Sippers take their time with relationships, moving slowly in hopes to extend it to a long term relationship. Shooters enjoy the immediacy of moving quickly, and then move on to the next relationship quickly. I’m not saying that wine drinkers prefer long term relationships and shooter girls are short term types, it’s just a comparison in the style. Moving on…

I was listening to a Bon Iver song a while ago called “Blood Bank”. The lyrics have a lot to say, but a particular verse reminded me of the way a new relationship feels – you know, the electricity between you and that someone, the excitement of getting to know a new person and sharing those endorphins and adrenaline and all those other fun chemicals you feel when you’re falling in love. As I was driving and listening to the song, a wave of – I guess it was sadness? – washed over me as I realized I would never experience those feelings again. Those chemicals are so addicting, that even though I have a remarkable relationship with my husband, I was bummed that I would never experience that “high” again.

My logical side (and frankly, my heart) squashed my dumb, immature feelings almost immediately after they made themselves known. How stupid! Captain Laser Pants is the person I pursued for months. He is the man I learned to know and understand over a long period of time as friends constantly on the cusp of falling in love. I won the prize! I ran in the race, the huntress overtook the chase – I have the relationship with the man I never dared to dream existed.  Those feelings of infatuation are nothing compared to the deep river of love I have for my husband.

It is funny to me that the thought of “wah, I’ll never fall in love again” even crossed my mind. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I was never the type to jump in and out of relationships, and (as an INTJ) I tend to prefer the tried and true method to the new idea. But, odd fact: I preferred a shot of something to a glass of wine when I would have a drink. Maybe that instinct to be an epicurean and move on quickly is in there somewhere. To be honest, I tried it with Captain Laser Pants – danced around the idea of the relationship, but was too scared to invest. Clearly, my fears were quelled and any thought I had of being hurt was overpowered by the immense love I’ve had for him for so long.

Are you a sipper or a shooter? Am I a weirdo for not liking wine? What’s your Keirsey Temperament? DISC profile?

Letters to Your Husband, Present and Future

Last week’s blog on baggage and intimacy (as seen here) received more feedback than anything else I’ve written on here to date. Emails, text messages, and Facebook messages came pouring into my inbox. So many of us are walking around with hurt, some with the help of a significant other, and some without. One message in particular spoke volumes. Without revealing too much, she told me she is waiting for the right man to be brought into her life. I don’t know about you all, but waiting is one of many things at which I am dismally horrible. After a marriage, a child and a divorce, I cannot begin to fathom the pain of waiting that she is experiencing. So, in a brief moment of wisdom and/or clarity, I suggested that she write letters to her future husband any time she was feeling lonely or that the wait was too hard.

This morning, as CLP had his arm draped over my waist and was snoring in my ear, I thought about how devastated I would be if we were separated. We truly are two halves to one whole. A light switch turned in my head and I appreciated the snore (really), the weight of his forearm on my stomach as he slept. There are so many tiny moments of our relationships that we take for granted with one another. When he leaves the leashes next to the front door after walking the dogs, I have to check my attitude on occasion- should I be upset about the minor inconvenience of three leashes on the floor, or should I be grateful that I have a husband who takes time from his morning to walk our dogs so they’re better behaved for me later in the day?

For our first anniversary gifts, we wrote letters to one another. As you can imagine, mine was long, detailed, filled with lots of commas. I poured my tired little heart out. His letter to me mentioned the fact that he tells me how much he loves me every day. While at first I was just a teensy bit sad that his letter wasn’t three pages long like mine was to him, it occurred to me that a) yes, he does tell me every day (what a lucky gal I am!) that he loves me, and b) men, no matter how cerebral and verbose, communicate differently than women. The letter is in my jewelry box, where some of my most precious, costly gifts sit.

Where am I going with this?

Write a letter to your spouse, whether or not you are currently married. If you’re writing a letter to your husband, break up the length (for his sake). Date it. Men need to know their wives respect them- tell him you do. They need to be desired- tell him you do. Does he wash your car or mow the lawn? He’s taking care of you, above and beyond the big stuff that matters. Tell him thank you. If you’re a dude, write a letter to your wife. Work to make it long (for her sake). Women need to know they are loved- tell her you do. Remind her that, of all the women in the world, you chose her. Does she make you dinner or go grocery shopping alone so you don’t have to endure the store? Thank her.

Letter writing is a lost art. If you’re stuck or you can’t find the words, copy someone else’s love letter. There are epic, legendary letters of men to women and women to men out there from some of the greatest minds ever to have lived and loved. Seek inspiration. Check our your spouse while they’re getting ready in the morning. Be inspired by the love they have given and have taken from you.

No Shakespeare? No problem.

Letter writing is not something you have to build up to doing. Working through emotional baggage, trust, respect and communication- all very important!- can be done while you’re honing your sonnet skills. A little note card with an “I love you. Let’s make out later.” written on it can be slipped into a work bag or taped to a mirror.

If you’re not married, let your spouse know you are waiting for your relationship with anticipation. When you feel lonely, writing it out to your partner is a good exercise in healing together before you’ve even begun. Let your future spouse know your triumphs, your failures, and your heart. Don’t be a stranger to the pages- someday the person who will know you best will be reading them.

Don’t be intimidated by a pen and paper. Your heart and your mind were some of the reasons the two of you fell in love in the first place.

My Bedroom is Not a Luggage Storage Closet

When Captain Laser Pants returned from his first business trip since our little duderino was born, he left his luggage in front of my closet for over a month. He tripped over it on his way to his bathroom at night, it partially blocked the mini- hallway from my closet to his, it collected dust, the dogs wrestled on it. It was totally and completely in the way. Finally, sometime in May (it had been sitting there since March), I cleaned it out and put it away in the closet where it belongs. Granted, it was only a carry on sized bag, but that one inconveniently placed piece of baggage interfered with our routine every day until I removed it. My bedroom is not for luggage storage!

Ok, this just kind of blew my mind- I in no way had any intention of starting this post about intimacy and baggage like this. Hello, epiphany, it’s nice to see you again.

Unless we lived under rocks until the day we were married, all of us are carrying around some kind of baggage from our past. Some of you have modest, backpack sized histories with neatly tied emotional packages that stow away perfectly in a shoe box in your hall closet. Others, like myself, have a cargo plane full of the baggage/ damage inflicted upon us and by us. Between the idiot ways I treated myself and the ways allowed myself to be treated by others, I am the epitome of the crazy bag lady.

Ahh, snap. That’s all my baggage. Talk about the checked baggage fees.

This stuff is about to get real, ya’ll. I have to confess some things.

Today I went to the doctor (whee) for my annual lady visit (TMI, yeah, yeah). We talked about the prospect of Team Gwinn adding another member, and I am seriously struggling with the idea of it. Pregnancy and postpartum ravaged my body. I am so, so fearful that round two will be worse than the first, and leave everything in even crappier shape than it is now.

Rewinding even further back- I’ve had someone tell me I was fat, then too skinny, crazy, hard to look at (especially without makeup, he said), and pretty much every other horrible thing you can think of to say or do to another human being. I tolerated it for four years and crawled out of the rubble that was my self esteem with little more than threads of sanity to claim for myself. Captain Laser Pants is literally a saint, it isn’t even fair to compare the two. My husband is gentle with his words, sincere, generously loving, witty and intelligent, thoughtful and discerning, immeasurably giving AND he’s freaking hot. This man would jump in front of a train to protect his family, and I can call him my own.

How unfair is it to him that I bring my baggage into our relationship?

My “for real” luggage is quite beautiful. And in no way can contain all my crazy.

I would consider myself an absolute authority on insecurity. Some people have swagger for days, I’ve got insecurity for months. What started out as a routine exam this morning turned into a cryfest on my way home. I felt betrayed by my body. When I stopped by to visit my husband at his office and pick up our son (he took our baby to work this morning so I could go to the doctor in peace- so thoughtful, right?!), I saw that his office has a new intern. She’s like 18, crazy thin, blah blah blah. After picking apart my own body at the doctor’s office, I see this girl (who literally has nothing to do with anything) and it makes me feel worse. In the parking lot my husband made out with me (sweet), got frisky and we said we’d see each other later, but I felt shame and insecurity hanging over me. With my perfect baby in the backseat, I boo- hooed on the way home. How ironic is it that I’m writing a blog on insecurity, baggage and intimacy when I suffer from these issues all the time?

Bringing all this baggage into my bedroom has made it very crowded. It is impossible to feel sexy and confident when my 75 year old boobs and my 14 year old face are mocking me. It’s hard to hear my husband’s sweet voice tell me he loves me and thinks I’m beautiful when words from years past still haunt my ears.

Let me tell you, reader, intimacy is a great (and I mean GREAT) remedy for insecurity, if you just put down your barriers to let it happen. There is nothing so soothing as the comfort of your spouse’s arms. There is nothing so peaceful as your partner telling/ showing you that they love you, warts (and baggage) and all. Your husband (and mine for that matter) doesn’t see the tiny imperfections you magnify. Your wife is significantly more forgiving with you than you think- you just have to let your spouse step up to the plate and prove this to you.

So, what is marriage supposed to look like, even though baggage is present? I heard a really awesome idea, and though it’s not my own, I’m going to share it with you. The act of marriage – what it looks like – is sex. Where you are vulnerable, naked, raw, honest and SAFE – that is marriage. I can remember being in high school and hearing the youth pastor condemn sex before marriage, but not really taking the time to explain why. As an adult (and you may not agree with my religious beliefs, and that’s ok) I understand that every time you give a piece of yourself away to someone that isn’t your husband or wife, you receive more baggage in return. The rejection and the abandonment that one experiences after a sexual relationship is over is deteriorating to the heart. You can’t reconcile that loss. You just end up moving on, bringing along another piece of luggage to the next relationship. In marriage we should be able to shed the past and be made new as one person in our union, but more often than not, we drag along the past rather than cutting the cords we use to tow it.

Don’t bring your baggage to your bedroom. Your spouse already knows it exists and will help you combat what needs to be defeated and will help you put away what belongs in a closet. It is easy to create a chasm between us and our partners when insecurities and baggage are standing between us. You vows included “better” and “worse”.  A friend of mine said that “emotional baggage is like wearing sunglasses” in that your perspective is impaired and colors are viewed in the wrong light. I am going to remember that when I start to skew my perception of my marriage and myself. Your partner doesn’t want to hurt you, and you owe it to your spouse to give them your trust.

Speaking of trust, once that light is on in your head, it’s easy to be intimate with someone you trust. It’s easy to be honest with your best friend when she’s never spilled the beans, right? Your spouse has earned your trust- reward that. Physical intimacy is a beautiful response to the hurt insecurity can leave. Even when I felt deflated after mini- Gwinn was born, and exhausted from the complete lack of sleep, the comfort of my husband was vital to my survival. We reconnected when I felt alone, I felt beautiful even when I could fold a Christmas present with my extra stomach skin (eww!), and I felt safe with him. It can be really difficult to find time and energy to reconnect physically after the birth of a baby (heck, it can be difficult period), especially when the mummy isn’t feeling yummy. I suggest (from personal experience) investing in some nice “in between sizes” lingerie that flows away from the body. A flowing sheer teddy is flattering and forgiving. Bring home chocolate and flowers for your wife- it’s cheesy, it’s easy, and it works. Be nice, give genuine compliments. Hug. Kiss. Kiss again. Intimacy isn’t just about taking things to the bedroom. It’s about displaying the act of marriage- where you are vulnerable, honest, open and safe- to one another regularly.

I’m going to close today by apologizing to my husband for imposing my insecurities on him and thanking him for being the rock in my life. You weather my storms, my ups and downs, you wrap your (big, manly) arms around me, you tell me you love me, and you give me unending grace that I don’t deserve. Thank you for seeing our marriage through the good and the bad and the crazy. I love you endlessly.

Coming soon: the chemical romance, and whatever else you guys tell me you want to see! Let’s see some comments on suggestions for this series. Thank you for reading!!

Respect Yo’ Spouse Befo’ You Wreck Yo’ Spouse

Don’t act like the title of this post doesn’t impress you.

So I’m thinking a lot about respect today, in the midst of this series about marriage. As someone who was raised to respect her elders, disrespected her exes, and adores her husband, I’m not an authority on the issue (duh), but it is something I’ve struggled with since I was old enough to talk.

When I was in kindergarten, I had more than my fair share of bad habits. I scratched people (viciously like Freddy Krueger), rolled my eyes at adults when I couldn’t think of something cleverly snarky to say, and when I wasn’t rolling my eyes, I was smarting off to those in authority. An example: My mother worked at the school I attended in kindergarten. My teacher told me I had to wait for my mom to pick me up from class. So, there I was, logically working out in my brain that school was over and my mom’s classroom was just down the hall. I told her, “You’re not my mom!” and marched my little butt to my mom’s room. In one little act of defiance, I undermined my teacher’s authority, asserted my own, and probably (definitely) got punished for my insubordination. I’ve had issues with authority ever since then. If I don’t feel like they’ve earned my respect, I probably don’t give it to them (unless it’s a police officer and he has a gun).

As an adult I disrespected my relationships. I flirted with other men. I insulted my boyfriends, plenty of times in public. I questioned their decisions. I mocked their misgivings. Obviously, those relationships weren’t going to work. When Captain Laser Pants and I met, the situation was clearly different. For one, I was mature enough (mostly) to recognize the damage that my sharp tongue can cause. He also earned my respect. I don’t believe he was trying to do so at first, but I saw his character, his mind and his intentions as I got to know him personally. This man was worthy of my admiration, just as I was worthy of his pursuit.

On our first trip together (before we were dating) we talked about the importance of edification in a relationship. It was something I had never really experienced before, but understood the benefits of implementing it in future relationships. To “edify” (to build up, strengthen, encourage, improve) your partner is something that does not come naturally for many. But in reality, if you’re not working to build up your spouse, you’re (inadvertently or purposefully) tearing down your spouse. How’s that, you may ask? Just like if you’re not telling the whole truth, you’re lying, if you aren’t working to encourage your spouse, you’re eventually draining him or her.

What do edification and respect have to do with one another?

If I never told my husband “thank you” for all the work he does for our family, he would never know how much I value his efforts. If I never listened to him and communicated with him, he would never know I respect his mind. If I told him, “I don’t need you,” he would believe it, whether the words were true or not. What we do and what we say directly speaks to our spouse and conveys the message of “I respect you” or “I don’t respect you”. Men particularly need to be respected. We all need to be encouraged by our spouse. If we were to never receive encouragement from the person who knows us best, it could give us a complex! Think about it. Your spouse knows you better than anyone on the planet- if your partner never complimented you, or gave you a kind word, you’d feel like a failure. Edification is vital to a marriage, and you can’t edify what you don’t respect.

A lot of my friends, married and unmarried alike, probably think I am absolutely crazy when I call Captain Laser Pants while I’m out shopping (a rare occasion, especially now that mini- Gwinn is so grabby/ fussy/ drooly). When it comes to our finances, I defer to my husband. He works incredibly hard- he is away from home, at work- and I respect the time and effort he puts into taking care of our family financially. I don’t like to spend money frivolously because he doesn’t spend his time away from us frivolously.

We forget, in our ever busy lives, to encourage one another. It’s so easy to let your spouse know you respect him or her, and it’s just as easy to give words of encouragement before you two part ways and go into the world each morning. Give genuine, detailed compliments. If your husband looks hot in his suit, tell him. If your wife cooked a meal after working a long day, tell her your thanks for pulling double duty as money earner and chef. Your marriage is meant to be your fortress- your safe haven. Edification of one another is the act of building up those walls to protect your spouse and yourself from the outside. If you care about the citadel, you care about the walls. To feel safe and to feel comfortable in your marriage you must encourage and respect one another. Without respect for your spouse, you lose one of the most beautiful elements of your marriage- intimacy.

In the next day or two I’m going to write about intimacy (both emotional and physical) and the baggage we bring along in our marriage. Please comment with suggestions and thoughts- I will be mulling over this next topic with serious regard.

Have a beautiful day!

Wedded Walkie Talkies – Communication is a Two Way Street

Do you remember the awesomeness of childhood that was the walkie talkie? Way before the invention and accessibility of cell phones, you and your best friend could chat at night from your bedrooms, talking about your plans of forts and digging for worms the next day. You tried to learn Morse code, just in case other neighborhood kiddies were listening, and you giggled when you held the button while your friend was talking so you only heard parts of what they said. For $5 at the pharmacy you could pick up a pair and guarantee at least a summer’s worth of fun. Another kicker? You could play ‘army’ or ‘war’ and be true to form, using walkie talkies in the trenches of your playground.

“You wanna play princess war with me? AWESOME!”

So, in your marriage, do you use your walkie talkies for fun or for war? You’re probably saying something like, “Um, Bethy, we don’t use those anymore. We’re not five.”

Ok, I’ll drop the walkie talkie references. However you communicate regularly with your spouse, be that email, text message, face to face or on your cellphone- that’s your grown up walkie talkie. My hope is that you utilize every tool you have to talk to your partner. Communication is one of the the cornerstones of a healthy marriage in the trifecta of trust, communication, and respect. You can’t build on either trust or respect without communication. When you stop talking to your spouse, the opportunity for omissions, resentment and secrets quickly arises. Sound crazy? Extreme?

Taking a step or two backwards- what is “communication” with your spouse? Is it merely words you say at one another? Of course not. Your body language, your tone, your mood, the content and context of what you say- that’s communication. When you were dating, you talked about everything, right? You didn’t just unload on your significant other at the end of your day, or ignore requests, or only talk about the stuff you saw while you were shopping (boring!). You talked about your passions, your dreams, your families, favorite movies- you name it, you covered it. Most of your sentences started with “we” instead of “I”. Maybe I’m assuming a lot here, but your spouse probably didn’t fall in love with you because you were selfish and egocentric. If you feel like the conversations you have now with your partner are one sided, they probably are. And, if they feel one sided to you, then your spouse may feel the same way. Eventually the walkie talkie style, the open communication you two had in the beginning turns into the “two cans and a string” style, and if you’re both holding the cans to your mouth, or not even holding the cans at all, you can’t truly listen. When we stop listening, they stop talking. And if there isn’t talking in the partnership, it will be sought outside of the marriage.

But talking to your spouse is hard, especially if you’ve fallen out of habit with it. Suggestions of writing love notes seems absurd when the bulk of your conversation is over a late dinner after a long day of work. You’re both tired.

Moment of confession: I am a bottler. I will harbor my feelings for days, sometimes weeks, before exploding on Captain Laser Pants. The signs of brooding, boiling frustration come to the surface a few days before, and CLP nervously will ask, “Is everything ok?” while I silently chop vegetables for dinner with a rage not unlike the Hulk. When I finally do come out and say what’s been bothering me, it’s usually an emotional mess. CLP is gracious and loving, but he usually points out that if I had just told him the issue when it first started bothering me, we could have avoided a days- long tense household and I would have felt resolution much sooner. To make it worse for myself, I hate crying in front of him, and I hate looking “weak” or vulnerable. If only I had communicated effectively with my husband! He is always so forgiving and understanding- where his patience comes from is a gift from God. It was unfair of me to judge his character and assume he would handle the situation poorly.

Some tactics I have learned in talking with my husband to make it easier for me to actually speak include sitting in the front of the car while he sits in the back, or vice versa and spooning in bed so he doesn’t see my face. I don’t really advise texting or emailing your feelings- tone is easily misinterpreted over the internet.

What if you’re (or your partner is) the opposite of me and you’re an exploder? Every confrontation ends up in a battle. The casualty in the fight is your marriage, and winning a fight never really feels like a victory. Explore the underlying issue that causes the explosion. Chances are, the battle is not related to the way the grocery bags are packed, but something much deeper and more serious. If it’s an issue playing on repeat, try marital counseling. There is no shame in having a referee present to assist in working out kinks in your relationship.

“You put the dishes in the dishwasher according to color, not size! AHHHHHHHH!”

I heard a heartbreaking statistic over the weekend (I don’t know the accuracy of it): around 80% of current marriages will suffer from at least one partner straying. The mouthpiece of this statistic (a gorgeous, intelligent, successful and brilliantly funny woman) said, “Who am I to think that my marriage is so great that I’ll be in the twenty percent?” She really started the wheels in my head turning. Do that many people feel that marriage is so devalued that they give up on working on it, like a half finished project? I can’t imagine that healthy marriages fall into the eighty percent- I mean, the ones where the two spouses communicate effectively and daily, trust and respect are present, secrets don’t exist and intimacy (both emotional and physical) is valued.

Amazingly, I didn’t marry myself, so I asked my husband for his thoughts on this subject. Here’s how our conversation went (excuse the lack of punctuation, capitalization, and any other blatant errors):

 Ehron:  So
what am I supposed to write about
I’m eating an enchilada so it seems like a good time to do that
 me:  hehe
i dont know.
you usually have a lot to say, and i value what you say. why do you think its important for us to communicate in our marriage?
 Ehron:  hehe
 Sent at 2:45 PM on Monday
 Ehron:  Well
I think the most important thing is think before you speak
don’t let your emotions drive the words too heavily as you can say something in the heat of the moment that you really don’t even mean
and, make sure to tell you spouse if something’s bothering you.  Never assume they know, especially don’t assume and get mad at them because it’s something “they should know.”  People think differently, and you can’t reliably assume that your spouse has learned the lessons you believe they should have learned
 me:  :D
what about the day to day importance of talking/ keeping the lines open?
 Ehron:  Don’t nag, negativity isn’t productive.  If you are really bothered, broach the subject in such a way as to try and solve it, not tell them you hate them because they are a cheap a-hole
that seems important too, the line open thing
 me:  lol. you are SUCH a nag, too. gah.
 Ehron:  Well I wouldn’t have to nag if you’d just stop being such a cheap a-hole
you ought to know tha tby now, I thought you’d have changed as a result of my constant nagging  :D
 me:  fine, we’ll go on a date to cici’s.
 Ehron:  SHIZAAM
 me:  how would you feel or what would happen if you and i stopped talking every day the way we do? we have a pretty constant back and forth.
 Ehron:  I’m confused
do yuo plan on that?
 me:  haha, no. never.
you’re my gravity, baby.
 Ehron:  is this your way of telling me we talk to much
 me:  shut up. and answer my question.
 Ehron:  bad
 me:  well said.
seriously, can you elaborate, like just a bit?
 Ehron:  very bad
 me:  ..
 Ehron:  hehe
I’d wonder what was going on
 me:  how do you think the health of our relationship would be?
 Ehron:  worse

What’s going on, did you secretly buy a Cosmo?
 me:  haha, no baby
i’m writing a blog on communication.

Obviously, the man has some points. And there are about ten million points to be made on this topic. There is no way I could hope to cover them all. I do want to impart the importance of communication in marriage, though. Without it, everything else crumbles. Marriage is supposed to be your place of refuge from the world. It is meant to be where you can be at your most raw, most honest, and feel your safest. This will be a common theme throughout the rest of the series- marriage is meant to be your haven, not a battleground.

How do you talk to your spouse? How do you listen to your spouse? Please comment with your thoughts, opinions, what you’d like to see and what marriage is to you.