Photo courtesy of Clapp Studios
The process of two becoming one is exactly that: a process. And while some take to it more naturally, there definitely is a learning curve. If you've noticed that shortly after your nuptials the two of you seem to be butting heads more frequently, these six often overlooked habits may be responsible for the friction.
1. Keeping Score
He left his dirty laundry on the floor again….CHECK! This is the third time (this week!) that I've had to clean up hair clippings after he shaved….CHECK! I wish he would take the garbage out…CHECK!
The. toilet. seat. is. up. again.
CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!
Hold your horses. Is this disgruntled wife you? Are you keeping an imaginary score of wrongs in your marriage? Here's some advice: STOP IT. Because in this game no one wins.
Although it can be tempting to keep score in your marriage, it's even more unproductive. In fact, it's downright damaging. Scorekeeping skews our view. Why? Because we only hone in on our spouse's wrongdoing, while conveniently omitting all of their favorable tendencies. So if you're the expert scorekeeper in your marriage, nip this behavior in the bud immediately. Instead, try communicating the issues to your spouse when they arise, or even sometimes letting the behavior slide. In marriage, we have to pick our battles, and not everything is worth the fight.
Sure, we've all indulged in the fun of sharing pieces of our lives and thoughts on social media, but when does a bit much become too much? It's one thing to share a snapshot of a favorite meal or weekend adventure, but many a conflict has been had over the content of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts. This is especially true whenever we share the details about our relationships.
Are you an oversharer? Maybe you are and don't even realize it. A good experiment to try for your next few posts (especially if they reference your spouse or your marriage) is to imagine the post as a face-to-face conversation. Would you want to share that same information with your Facebook friends if they were in the room with you? Would you talk to those same people with such candor? If not, then maybe reconsider before pressing send.
3. (Not so) Friendly Barbs
Light-hearted teasing keeps fun and humor in the marriage; both of which are necessary as a reprieve from the rigmarole of daily life. And quite honestly, most couples have a good time poking fun at one another. But it's when these friendly barbs are used passive-aggressively to express frustration with a spouse that things become problematic.
Never use friendly teasing to express disdain over a sensitive subject. Frustrated about your financial situation or a cumbersome in-law? Discuss the issue openly with your spouse. Joking about it will only heighten the tension, which in turn won't solve a thing; it will only add more frustration to the situation. Talk it out.
4. Speaking For Your Spouse
This is a huge point of frustration for many married couples, newlyweds especially. The newly married crowd is typically used to a certain level of independence, which is why the unifying process can feel so foreign. Speaking for your spouse is a bad habit that can exacerbate the stress of the transition.
Just say your girlfriend invites you and the hubs out for a double date on a Saturday night. Do you immediately let her know that the two of you will attend, or do you make sure to express that you want to run the invitation by your spouse before committing to the dinner? Hopefully, it's the latter. If not and you're more prone to making joint decisions without joint consent, then work on breaking the habit of speaking for your spouse. Trust us, it will make for a much happier home if you get into the practice of showing your husband that his opinion matters too.
5. Kiss and Tell
Remember when we were younger and told our girlfriends every good and bad deed done by our boyfriends? Well, it's a new day, it's a new dawn, and this is a bad habit that needs to stay in the past! Our husbands are not our boyfriends, and the stakes are quite different now. Contrary to the days of old, we must navigate our friendships in a manner that not only protects ourselves but also our spouses because we're in this thing together. Our girlfriends may be well-meaning, but they are inherently biased in our favor. Telling them the nitty gritty details of our marriages, namely the issues with our spouses, is not only unfair to our husbands, but potentially portrays them negatively. We have got to do our relationship homework ourselves! And that means finding more constructive ways to navigate marital issues without inviting other people into the situation.
6. Keeping Up With the Joneses
You know the old adage, "Comparison is the thief of joy"? Well, its wisdom still rings true, and particularly when it comes to marriages. It's so easy to compare – what vacations our friends are going on, the nice new home they just bought, how they never ever seem to argue – that sometimes we do it without even realizing. Consequently, the green-eyed monster prevents us from enjoying and appreciating what's going on within our own four walls. If you have the annoying habit of comparing your marriage (and even your spouse) to others, then try your best to nix the bad behavior. You'll be able to enjoy the blessings in your personal life so much more.
Can you think of any troublesome habits that should be added to our list? Feel free to share in the comments!
Angela Souza is a native Clevelander. She is wife to Omari, and mommy to Noah and Ezra. You can catch more of her work at Love Notes by Jazzymae Photography, a blog where she writes about the ins and outs of all things marriage. She also frequently contributes to For Harriet. Angela is a regular contributor for BlackBride.com.
Follow her on Instagram: @its_angiesouza and Twitter: @therealangelans