Let’s get real this morning.
We’re speaking at the Connect Marriage Retreat near Atlanta, Georgia this week and we wanted to give you a little preview of our talk and practical marriage advice you can improve your relationship with your spouse. But really any relationship. A spouse, a child or even a business partner.
It starts with recent a story where we messed up.
Sometimes, we fight
Now, do we fight a lot? No. If we’re being honest, we really don’t fight a lot. But when we do, the issue is almost never the issue.
Here’s an example:
Recently, we got home from an engagement session. We were tired. We’d worked all day, it was almost dinnertime and there was still so much left to do. As soon as we walked in the door, Jordan immediately started making dinner. Amy sat at the bar and started prepping a post for Instagram. So far, no harm, no foul. We were both doing something for Demos Inc. Jordan on the household front. Amy on the business front. About ten or fifteen minutes later, Jordan was in the heat of cooking. Pun intended. The oven was baking. Pans were sizzling. He was cutting vegetables. Checking on the meat. Setting the table. And cleaning the dishes as he went.
That’s when he looked up.
And Amy was flicking her right thumb. On her iPhone screen. Which meant only one thing: she was scrolling through Instagram. She’d gotten lost in the rabbit hole we all fall down from time to time. In an instant, Jordan went from warm to hot. He didn’t say anything, but when we put dinner on the table, he was cold. For the rest of the night. Right away, Amy knew something was up. She just didn’t know what. See, if you’re like us in your marriage, then when your husband gets mad, he gets quiet, he stonewalls. Well, that’s exactly what Jordan did.
After an exhausting night and following morning of Amy trying to pry it out of Jordan, he finally verbalized it: I was working my butt off. You didn’t help me. And, worse, you were on Instagram.
Translation: You care more about them than you do about me.
Now, is that fair? Of course not. Jordan knows that there’s no one in the world who loves him more than Amy. No one in the world who has his best interests at heart than her. But, in the heat of the moment, we’re not always fair to each other in marriage. Are we? Jordan certainly wasn’t. And the issue at stake wasn’t really the issue, either. It rarely is. Because we hadn’t talked about that hour of time in advance. We hadn’t communicated. We hadn’t set a clear expectation of what we were going to be doing, why we were going to be doing it and how we the other person could support us in it.
We hadn’t set expectations
So, if we could rewind the tape, what would we do differently?
1. Set Expectations
Before we walked in the door, Jordan should’ve been the leader of the family and said something like, “When we get inside, it’ll take me about an hour (start to finish) to prepare and cook dinner. What are you going to do?”
Then, Amy would’ve told him her plan. “I’m going to post on Instagram and then scroll for a little bit. Sometimes I just need that mental break and escape from the world for a few minutes.”
Then, Jordan could’ve followed up with something like, “Sounds good. I totally get that. Would you mind setting the table and filling up the water glasses by 7:15 so we can eat at 7:30?”
That would’ve solved everything. Just that little bit of communication. Because Jordan would’ve had the help and support he needed, and Amy would’ve gotten the break she needed. We would’ve known what each other needed, and we both wold’ve helped the other person get it.
What’s the takeaway? Try setting expectations. Maybe one hour or a few hours at a time when you’re together — whether you work together or not. In our experience, when we know what the other person is doing and they know what we’re doing, it gives us a chance to ask for the support we need (if we need it) so that we don’t silently stew and feel neglected or unappreciated when that was never the other person’s intention in the first place.
Remember, in this story, we were equally as guilty, but maybe Jordan more so than Amy, because, by not communicating expectations, he never gave her a chance to win to begin with. And if there’s one thing know for sure about marriage, it’s this: don’t make your spouse guess how to meet your needs. It’s like playing tag in an open field after dark. Your bound to spend most of your time guessing wrong. Instead, just communicate You’ll both be happier and more fulfilled. When we’re not forgetting this simple principle, that’s when we are!
We hope this helps you, friends! We certainly aren’t perfect, but are feeling thankful for opportunities to grow.