My fiancé and I have been dating for 6 years, which means there has been lots of communication between the two of us. I have compiled a couple of things that are helpful when it comes to communicating.
I remember my first fight with Luke in college. Now we use it as a lesson, and still laugh about it whenever it is brought up. This argument sounds so petty but there was a deep lesson that I learned from it…
It was freshman year and I had just decided to go gluten-free. I was not able to eat on campus a whole lot. Luke was generous to pay for my meals when we would go out to eat for dinner. He encouraged me to use my money to buy some groceries for my room so that I could eat and not be starving all day. I agreed that I wanted to be responsible with my money and buy healthy snacks for myself. Well one day, I really really really wanted to get a pet for my dorm room. We weren’t allowed to have anything furry which was such a bummer because I would totally get a cat or hamster or something. So, I decided to get a fish. I bought the fish, some pretty pebbles, food, and a nice fake plant. I named my pretty beta fish, Yoncé. I was so excited to show Luke my fish.
Luke wasn’t all that excited about my new pet, and asked me how much money I spent on her. I told him it didn’t matter because it wasn’t his money, and that he should just love the fish with me. He stayed quiet and just sort of let me be a fish mom. And then one day I was REALLY craving a snickers bar. I love snickers so much.
Side note: My best friend Deb taught me a trick, put it in the fridge or freezer…makes it that much better! (Deb is pretty great so anything she says to do, you do it.)
Well I went to the vending machine and I was rustling around in my purse through all the fish receipts and I found my last quarters. As I am placing the quarters in the machine, Luke caught me. “Tay, what are you doing?” I looked at him, like, “What?” He said, “Taylor. You just told me how you want to save the rest of your money for things like your gluten free snacks and your laundry. You are now using your last quarters for a snickers bar?” I was SO upset that he kept mentioning money to me and I did not understand why he cared THAT much? But what he wanted to communicate with me was, “Tay, you are complaining about not having enough money for healthy snacks and yet here you are buying a fish habitat and snicker bar, while I then have to pay for all of your meals because you are not making wise decisions.”
Once we sat down and saw the gap in communication, I saw how frustrating that had to be for him. I had become a little too comfortable with his service and was not showing gratitude or responsibility. I apologized but also informed him that he can never stop me from buying chocolate no matter how “unwise” it may be.
All of this began a lesson in, “How to Communicate Better 101.” Whenever we are struggling communicating well to the other we now say “Snickers.” Immediately we know, oh…take a step back and look at the other persons perspective.
Here are 4 Things Luke and I learned about Communication within Dating:
1. Two individuals that begin a dating relationship often come from very different communication/processing backgrounds.Even couples that come from similar family backgrounds still have different ways of communicating. For example, I am an external processor…I speak before I think and have to talk out loud to come to a conclusion. Luke is an internal processor, so he can hear me talk for an hour and take a full day before he can respond. So sometimes I’ll finish my rant, stare at him blankly, ready for an answer…and won’t hear a peep from his mouth until the next day. We had to practice with him saying, “I hear you, and I will think on it/get back to you.” And he always followed through, but it was good because I gave him time. This was not something we grasped or understood until year 3 or 4 of dating. It takes time. It does not mean one of our ways is “wrong” it just means we need to respect how the other person processes. It is a priority to respect the other in how they process.
2. Communicate with your significant other about your future when the time is right, don’t feel the need to rush it. Are we fully listening to the other well or are we filling in what we think they should say? (I was guilty of not fully listening to Luke and filling in my own words.) It is a priority to communicate thoroughly what the expectations are for the relationship. I brought up marriage when we were freshman in college and Luke looked at me like a deer in headlights. He was not ready to talk about that yet, which frustrated me and confused me? Looking back…we were in no place to be talking about that yet, however I wanted to know where it was headed? Could he see me as his wife? I remember sophomore year after we went through some things, he grabbed my hand and said, “Tay, there is something so different about you. You make me want to be the best for you and I have always wanted you to be my wife. In time, that will come, but let’s just trust God to do the rest.” I needed that confirmation. It helped me to breathe for a second and relax on the conversation. I then waited for him to bring it up, which took a year and half or two after those initial conversations.
3. Talking about your past is not easy.Sometimes it can be painful. But- Luke and I have learned that God is SO good and if you allow him to soften your heart and show grace and forgiveness, healing can happen. No matter how “bad” or “non-existent” your past may have been, God can use our experiences or lack of experiences to protect, heal, and strengthen us! Another thing to add, lying about things is not going to get you anywhere good. There are something’s that your significant other does not need to know until you are sure that person is the one you are going to marry, because you want to protect yourself and them. However, being honest will take you to better places even if it’s difficult. I know for Luke and me, I was quick to jump to conclusions and letting my flesh take over my reactions. I wouldn’t take the time to allow God to help me with how I should respond towards him. Luke has been very patient with me as I battle my flesh and my spirit. (In this paragraph I kind of feel like I’m speaking in code…but if this resonates with you, I’ll let Jesus take care of the rest, if you’re like “what is she talking about?” release it.)
4. The way you talk to your significant other matters.It’s so important to not demean your partner, even or especially when you are mad. Luke and I have learned how quickly our words could turn sour when we were frustrated… it’s not necessary. We have a vocabulary of words that we cannot use because they are triggers, in ex., bossy, annoying, or weird. Sounds dumb, or child-like, but those words really hurt or trigger us if the other one says it. So we avoid it!
And on the other side of communicating…it’s so important we protect each other from temptation in the way we flirt or talk. This may be awkward for you to read, but its real. Like my last blog, just because its not sex, doesn’t mean it is right.
Communication is such an important aspect of a healthy relationship. Many of us joke, “yeah, she/he’s just not open, or he/she struggles with sharing their feelings, or Yeah, communication isn’t my strength.”Sometimes people live their whole lives in fear of rejection, so they don’t open up. But- guess what? All of us are imperfect, broken, and messy people…that’s why JESUS came to save us! So take hold of that! Know there is redemption and we have the opportunity to see the power of the gospel in all of our stories! Jesus didn’t just walk up to those who had their lives together, he went up to the woman at the water well who had a messy private/public life! Jesus would go up to those who felt worthless, dirty, and broken. He’s not afraid of your mess like you may be.
Many of us struggle with communicating well, yes- even us who majored in communications (ahem, me). It is important to remember that not all communication is healthy communication. So how can we figure out what is healthy and what is not?
Something I learned when I was 15 or 16 from a woman whom I cannot remember the name of has stuck with me all these years.
She said, “Never speak an ill word about your husband/wife.”
I remember hearing this and thinking…well, wait…if Luke is my husband I should think before I speak about him. So if I’m so frustrated and don’t understand why he’s not doing what I want him to do, or if we get into a big argument…I need to think before I speak about him, or to him.I have practiced this for 6 years and so has Luke.
You may be wondering what the big deal is to just vent or rant to your bestie? Well…When you get into an argument, a lot of us go to our best friend. You know, the girl friend you go to when you’re fed up cause they give you the reactions you love, like, “Shut up! He said that? Does he know how dumb that sounds?!” or the bros who say, “Dude, you gotta speak up, you can’t let her control you like that! You are whipped!!!” Yeah, you know what I’m talking about! Those friends always have your back and they are going to get riled up with you when you’re upset. Good friends, but it’s actually unfair to you, the friends, and your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend.
Because after that conversation you usually go back to your significant other and resolve the issues, and forget to tell your friend the resolution.That’s not always fair for the significant other or the friend. Because in our friend’s mind there was no good resolution, therefore it’s forever an issue in their head, and your significant other is marked as “dumb” forever in their mind. It can cause the friend to view your significant other in a way that is not positive- even if it’s not true.
I saw how this was not a healthy way of communicating or resolving issues.I decided to not speak to anyone except for those who were wiser than me and whose view of Luke or me wouldn’t change. So, I went to my mom and dad about issues, because it was unfair to Luke, siblings, and friends. My mom and dad were able to help me see when I was in the wrong. They have both of our best interest at heart.
I continually chose to tell my parents rather than my friends who may have chimed in and gotten all riled up with me. There are select few in my life outside of my parents that I know can help me look at situations differently without their opinion of Luke or me changing. I am even cautious telling my sisters some things! Not because I don’t trust their judgment, but because I am protecting them and Luke.
However, when our issues are resolved and we are both able to see clearly…Luke and I have been able to use our story or situations to encourage others within their relationships.
With all that being said… let’s reflect! How do you feel your communication is with your boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancé, friends, husband/wife? Would changing the way you speak about them to others help solve some of the issues?
Remember how powerful our words are. (to read more about the power of our words go to “Rumor Has it.”)The following questions are ones I had to ask myself at some point, maybe they will help you too:
Have I been speaking negatively about my significant other when my emotions are high? (A good way to figure this out is if most people who spend time around you, know every detail of your arguments…this may be a good time to check yourself and protect your friends and significant other.)Have I been honest with myself, or with my significant other?
Am I showing my significant other that I love and respect them through my communication?Are we protecting each other in the way we communicate? Are we causing each other to fall into temptation through conversation and the way you speak?
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
I hope this blog encourages you, or helps bring clarity too! If you have any questions, prayer requests, or in need of encouragement, Contact Me! Stay tuned for more blogs to come on dating, communication, faith, and more…next week is 20 Fun Tay Dates!
Thank you for reading,
*The Title for this blog was created by Abigail Dye! Thanks for your creativity and quick wit. And for those who sent in titles, they were all hilarious.