Every relationship will have its share of problems. It’s impossible to have a great relationship without them. It’s also impossible to have a great relationship if they are not handled correctly. Spend enough time with anyone and disagreements are bound to happen. This is a natural part of life. The only way to escape this would be to move to a planet where no one is there but you. With that being said, always remember that even those who are happy in their relationships have their share of troubles as well. It’s the mismanagement of these problems that drives a wedge between the man and the woman. Let’s have a conversation about the elephant in the marriage.
CAN WE TALK?
No matter who you are, if you have been in any type of relationship for more than five minutes, you have had some sort of problem arise. As I said before, this is very normal. However, one of the unhealthiest things you can do in any relationship is to pretend that the problem is not staring you right in the face. I have spoken to many men and women alike who knew there was a gigantic problem that needed to be addressed but chose to avoid dealing with it. Again, problems and misunderstandings are going to occur but it’s the mishandling of them that shreds the relationship to pieces.
The only thing worse than being in a room filled with tension is being in a relationship filled with tension. Tension is the little sister of the grudge and the cousin of the unresolved issue. I’m sure you’ve been there before. This usually places the man and woman on opposite sides of the sofa, bed, or table. It’s similar to the way they are on opposing sides of the issue. When they are in the same room there is an awkward silence and no one wants to break the ice. This is no way to live.
THE ELEPHANT AND THE MOUSE
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the phrase about the elephant in the room. This term refers to a major issue that is present but the discussion is avoided because it’s uncomfortable. The discussion may be uncomfortable for several reasons. It may be that one of the two has anger problems. It’s hard to discuss something with a person you know is going to lash out at you. Or maybe there is a pride and bitterness issue. No matter the reason, the major issue is still there. This is the elephant I was talking about earlier. The elephant in the marriage never goes away on its own and avoiding it does nothing but make it grow even larger. And the bigger the elephant gets, the more distance starts to accumulate between the man and woman.
The presence of the elephant over an extended period usually suggests there is a mouse also. Before you think I’ve lost my mind, I will elaborate. If the elephant has been in the marriage for a long time I can almost guarantee you that one party has been addressing it and feel as though they are not being heard. They keep pointing at the elephant but while the other keeps pointing at the mouse. The mouse is a small problem in the marriage that can be easily resolved. It is so minor that it can even be classified as petty. The person pointing to the mouse is usually doing so because they are trying to deflect from a problem that is uncomfortable for them to discuss and deal with. Let me give you an example. Let’s say a husband wants to have a conversation with his wife about how her anger is affecting the marriage because it makes him want to work late just to avoid her disrespectful behavior. Instead of dealing with the elephant, the wife points to a mouse. She says something like, “I asked you to bring milk home yesterday and you forgot again.” The fact that he forgets the milk is an issue but it’s going to land them in Divorce Court with Judge Lynn Toler.
Many people think their relationships are doomed to fail because of turbulence. However, it’s not the presence of conflicts that’s hurting them. The relationship is suffering because one or both parties is lacking conflict resolution skills. These are skills, so anyone can learn them. It does not matter if you were raised in a household full of tension, strife, and anger. You can still learn self-control and to be kind even when you’re upset. Because our backgrounds are different, so will our approaches to conflict. Any couple that wants to have a loving relationship needs to come together and discuss the agreed-upon rules of engagement. There needs to be boundary lines drawn in the sand to assure these difficult conversations do not cause anyone to place insulting words or behaviors into a slingshot.
I probably shouldn’t do this but I’m going to let you in on a personal conversation Kudzie and I had. As men, we often want to take the lead in everything else besides the maintenance of our marriages and relationships. It’s important to me that my wife feels loved, valued, and heard. I looked her in her eyes and told her that I never want her to feel as though she can’t voice her opinion to me. The worse she would ever get from me would be the fact that I didn’t agree. And I would let her know that respectfully. I never want to come at her in a manner that she feels uncomfortable or threatened. As her man, I need her to know these things. I also ask her periodically if she’s happy and if there is something she needs me to work on. My pride goes out the window when it comes to her feeling loved. I’m not sharing this with you from a place of pride. I just want you to understand that we (men) have to take the lead in this area.