Mastering Communication in Your Marriage

 

mastering communication in your marriage

Communication is something we have been doing all our lives. We communicate with our words, our actions, our face, our body language. You would think that by our 20s, we are pros at this. Not quite yet. I imagine we will never fully have our communication under control until we have reached perfection in heaven.

Mr. M and I spent the first two years of our relationship with intention. While we were dating, we decided to have the hard conversations that most newlyweds wait until after the engagement or the wedding day to have. Working through the hard conversations beforehand allowed us to spend our first year of marriage available to grow and mature in ways that would not have been possible if we decided to wait until the “I Do’s” to start having the hard conversations. The hard conversations gave us a foundation in communication. And although we’ve been together for 3 1/2 years, we’re still finding out more about how we give and receive in our communication styles.

mastering communication in your marriage

Communication & Expectations

Older men and women, along with every marriage help book will tell you the biggest key to a strong marriage is COMMUNICATION. And beyond communication, it is communicating your EXPECTATIONS.   We all have different expectations when it comes to housework, finances, parenting, sex. You name it, you have an expectation for it.

Read more here.

Today I’m guest posting over at Sincerely Onyi. Onyi is a Physician Assistant, Millennial Mommy, Long Distance Wife,  1st gen Nigerian-American, and Blogger. 

When You Call my Husband the N-Word

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

You could say that I invited ourselves into this situation. There was a festival a few counties down the road that I wanted to go to for the last several years, and this was the year.

It was a rural county where the KKK is rumored to meet on occasion.

But my husband is the type who doesn’t allow fear to dictate his choices. So he sweetly obliged to his wife and set out to go to the festival with me, knowing he may very well be the only black person around.

The moment we got out of our car and started to walk towards the festival, we received a few stares. Hand in hand, we walked with the confidence and love a newlywed has. We fell in step behind a lesbian couple and their kid.

The streets were crowded with white people and hispanics; I kept my eyes peeled for anyone else who may look like my husband, keeping a running tally in my head.

We stopped at a vendor to say hello to a friend when a white man approaching, muttered the n word under his breath.

My head snapped around, heat rising to my face, my heart pounding furiously. I bore a hole in the back of his head, wishing he would turn around. If looks could kill. . .

I calculated the risk in my head. He was 8 inches taller than me and looked like he worked a manual labor job. If I punched him in the face I could either get pummeled, arrested,or worse. We were in rural, open carry East TN.

If I yelled at him to turn around, what could I say? I rehearsed my vehement monologue in my head.

Sir, when you call my husband the n word, you reduce him from a human to a one dimensional victim of prejudice.

You negate his humanity with your racism.

You disregard his soul, his thoughts, his being.

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

If your family were too poor to have a Thanksgiving dinner this year, my husband would be the one to set you up through a food drive. He is a respected man in the community, both secular and within the church.

He is the type of man who sees an old lady with a cane in the grocery parking lot, and loads her cart full of groceries in the car for her.

He stops in the street when he feels Holy Spirit to compel him to pray for a stranger.

He has been known to send money to a friend he met years ago at a conference, who is still struggling to make ends meet.

He contributes to his family’s ministry – a ministry that provides education, food, and wells for the impoverished, widows, and orphans in his father’s village in Zimbabwe.

He loves furiously and graciously. If he heard you, he would turn the other cheek.

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

But I can’t. I can’t allow myself to turn the other cheek. Because you and I have something he doesn’t have – white privilege.

You say what you want without worrying about the consequences. The freedom of speech only applies to the privileged.

I can be outraged and heard. I have the privilege to react. Should my husband react in the slightest, the rest of the white community would respond with their own political protest.

Respect the flag. Look at what this country has given you. 

This country has given him opportunities, but made it exceedingly difficult as a Zimbabwean immigrant to do so.

This country has given him freedom, but only freedom to move within the parameters we as a white community has set for him.

This country has given him privilege, but only the privilege he has carved for himself by standing up straight, being respectful in his tone at all times, dressing near-business casual, even if he is just going to the grocery store.

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

He carries himself in a way that makes the white people say, “He’s not like the others. He wears a belt.”

He speaks in a way that makes the ignorant say, “Wow, for growing up in Africa, your English is impeccable!” (English is an official language of Zimbabwe.)

But when you call my husband the n word, you take away the blank space of knowing and opportunity and instead fill it with the graffiti of your hate.

When you call my husband the n word, you reduce yourself.

You become one dimensional.

Maybe you’re a family man. Perhaps you love fiercely and work hard, just like my husband. I’m sure you laugh in moments of joy, and you’ve cried when you’ve lost something dear.

Your heart beats like the rest of us.

But all is lost within the label you’ve created for yourself.

Racist.

When you take away the humanity of someone else, you lose a piece of your humanity as well.

 

 

Funny Marriage Quirks & How to Handle ’em

Funny Marriage Quirks & How to Handle 'em

I remember while preparing myself for marriage I read a lot of marriage books, listened to podcasts, etc. In fact, I still read marriage books, listen to podcasts, etc. Because are you ever really ready for marriage?

Marriage is a lifetime of learning and relearning things about yourself and your spouse.

Because Mr. M and I chose not to live together before we got married, we got to learn about each other’s living habits after the honeymoon.

Funny Marriage Quirks & How to Handle 'em

A Clean Kitchen is a Sexy Kitchen 

I didn’t realize how much of a clean freak I would turn into after we got married. It’s not that I’m a clean freak per se, but I’m quite miffed by a dirty kitchen. When I lived by myself, I had no one to blame but me. If I didn’t do the dishes for two days, that’s my own dang fault. Now that there are two of us, I’ve turned into a dishes nazi. I like to come home to a clean kitchen, go to bed with a clean kitchen, and wake up to a clean kitchen.

This was likely an adjustment for Mr. M, considering he had seen a messy person at work for the two and a half years before we lived together.

Don’t Move the Chargers 

The other day I took a phone charger out of the car and forgot to put it back. My husband is so gracious, though. He didn’t actively act annoyed with me even though I knew he probably was. He’s so kind in his responses that it encourages me not to go ballistic when one little thing goes wrong.

Funny Marriage Quirks & How to Handle 'em

To Speak, or Not to Speak

A list of times to not talk to my husband about serious things:

When he’s watching soccer
When he’s playing FIFA
When he’s reading a really great book on leadership

A list of times my husband shouldn’t talk to me about serious things:

When I’m in the bathtub with my book and my bubbly
When I’m writing a blog
After 10pm

Seriously, my brain turns off after 10pm, and this is when Mr. M wants to discuss theology and how to solve the world hunger crisis.

Whenever Mr. M is watching soccer or playing FIFA, that’s when I tend to want to discuss a new blog post or I’ve come up with a list of chores.

Marriage is all about timing and giving each other space.

How Hot is Too Hot? 

Getting married in December is getting married in optimal cuddling season. East Tennessee only had one big snow, but it was quite chilly from January until March, which meant heating a 1940s house isn’t quite enough – we need teh space heater.

I joke that my husband likes to keep our house as hot as Africa. This isn’t entirely true – it’s not our whole house, just mainly our bedroom. My prime sleeping temp is 69 degrees. His prime sleeping temp is hot.

There was one night in the first month or so when I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. The space heater was still on. It was 3am. It was 300 degrees. I was on fire – with anger and heat.

In a fit of anger, I threw the covers off me and shoved them towards Mr. M. My shove was so forceful that I hit him. He woke up, frightened and confused, and I played innocent. “Oh I hit you? I’m sorry.”

A week later I told him the truth.

*I need to note here that I do not hit my husband. This was sleepy Nina. Sleepy Nina is irrational and full of rage.
**Also you may be wondering how high our electricity bill is in the winter with all the heat. I don’t know. We got lucky and pay one flat fee for the house. When we eventually move and have to pay our own heat bill, I’m sure we will go the down blanket route over keeping the space heater on.

Funny Marriage Quirks & How to Handle 'em

Loving Your Spouse and Loving Their Quirks

Before you get married, it seems like your partner can do no wrong. They’re little quirks are endearing.

After marriage, you can do wrong, your partner can do wrong, and those idiosyncrasies walk the line between endearing and annoying.

But it’s all about how you swing it.

I get annoyed by my husband, and I annoy my husband (sometimes on purpose.) If I choose to allow every little thing he does to annoy me, then we will have a joyless marriage. I will be too focused on what is irritating me rather than what is delighting me.

This is WAY easier said than done. And remember: I’ve only been married 9 months. I don’t have all the skills.

So far, I’ve found that it is easier to embrace my spouse when I embrace their quirks.

I love that he wants to call and talk to me on his way home from small group (when it’s my scheduled bath tub alone time.)

When I find myself starting to get annoyed that he’s wanting to talk and I’m just wanting to soak in silence, I recognize the selfishness that is in me. I always want to choose my husband over myself. Even if that means I only get 10 minutes of quiet bathtub time and 15 minutes of getting the privilege to talk to my husband. I love that he wants to talk to me so much!

I love that my husband is just as particular as I am, but in different ways. The joys of two first borns marrying each other.

When I take an extra step to accomplish a small task for him in a way I know he likes it, I know that I am loving him by adjusting an old habit that isn’t a big deal to me and showing him that I care even about the little things (like keeping the car clean.)

Marriage is really just two quirky people learning to live together and love each other.

I’ll have to revisit this post and update it once we have kids in the future.

The Man Behind the Camera: An Interview

The Man Behind the Camera: An Interview

Last year circulated this one video entitled, “Instagram Husband,” and the moment it was published, I had approximately three to four people send it to me saying, “Hahaha this is so Pai.” I live in an area where there is me, and then there are maybe two other bloggers that I know of. The rest of the population kindly tolerates my fake laugh poses, my blog posts, and the mandatory “sell yourself” on the social media.

And then there is my husband. Who has been with me on the blogging game since day one. In fact, way back in 2014 when Hugs and Lattes was still The Grand Adventures of Me, I was trying to win some kind of blog award, so I pushed the blog on my regular Facebook rather than just my blog’s Facebook.

There was one cute little Pai M. who commented on the post to say in the utmost flirtatious fashion, “I’m not going to vote.” Meanwhile, he voted and I won. . . the award and his heart. Boom.

Of course at the beginning of our relationship, I didn’t subject him to taking my pictures. Rather, he had the honor of being in my Instagram photos. With a solid 200 followers and a steady average of 23 likes per photo, I was quite the persona.

Let’s fast forward to 3 years later where he not only gets the honor of being in my photos, but he gets the rare privilege of taking them.

If y’all follow my Instastories (@christinamush), you will see that Mr. M is not the most . . . ahh. . . should I say. . . cooperative player there is.

But it’s all for show. He steals my phone, shares about how he just had to photograph me holding a pineapple even though we’re not eating said pineapple in said moment, and then likes to make fun of me while I do the stereotypical blogger poses. But he is genuine and he is a good sport.

While he has never told me to “Work it” or “Vogue,” he does give genuine advice like, “Look at the camera,” and “You look prettier when you smile.” Questions have been asked like, “Why are you looking down?” and “Why are we taking a picture of a pineapple if we aren’t going to eat it right now?”

The pineapple was a big deal, y’all.

I decided to sit down with the man himself and get his perspective on what it’s like to be an Instagram Husband. You may remember last spring, I shared what it is like to date a blogger. At this point, Mr. M was in grad school, working on his thesis, and planning the most amazing proposal. He was a little preoccupied so I wrote what I imagined it was like to date a blogger.

But now we live together and he has to see my face every day, so I was able to get his own personal opinions on what it is like to be an Instagram Husband.

The Man Behind the Camera: An Interview

What is annoying about being an Instagram Husband? 

Having to stop anything that is semi interesting to take a picture of video. Sometimes we stop to take pictures of a leaf.

But we’re talking about how you have to take pictures of me. 

When I’m ready to go from Point A to Point B and you see a pretty brick wall and we have to stop everything we’re doing to take a photo in front of that wall.

Do you ever get tired of photographing your wife? 

No.

Is that true?

Because your super sexy. I get tired of holding the phone and pressing the picture button. See what I did there?

Did you know that being an Instagram Husband was in our vows? 

Were they really?

No, but it was unspoken. 

Yes, I was prepared, my love.

*and let’s note here that this was said in a slightly annoyed, distracted phone. 

The Man Behind the Camera: An Interview

How far is too far? 

I will never, and I’ll say it again – I will never ever compromise my manhood by taking a picture in the midst of a Manchester United soccer game. Never! If I miss a goal, if i miss a pivotal moment in the game, I will not be one happy camper.

What is your favorite thing about an Instagram Husband? 

I get to have different backgrounds on my phone. I get to have beautiful pictures on my camera roll!

Aww. There was a right answer. Fair pass. 

The Man Behind the Camera: An Interview

Mr. M has really grown in his Instagram Husband skills. For instance, we were out eating ice cream one night when he said, “This would make a perfect picture.” Obviously I made him take the photo.

Mr. M also kindly decided to give a couple steps to being a Pro-Instagram Husband that you are free to pass along to your significant others.

How to be a Pro-Instagram Husband 

Step 1: Be alert at all times because you never know when the camera is on you – I could be picking my nose in the background of my wife’s instastory.

Step 2: Any object, and I mean any object can be and will be a prop. For instance: A pineapple. You took a picture of a pineapple and you weren’t planning to eat it in that moment.

Le’s note this: Selfie sticks don’t work. I bought my wife a Selfie Stick for Christmas. She got excited and used it maybe two times. But I think she really prefers a sexy human being behind the camera.

Step 3: If you want to annoy your wife, make monkey noises in the background while she’s recording Insta stories.

It’s true. that does annoy me like crazy. Any last advice? 

Consider it all joy, my brothers.

The Man Behind the Camera: An Interview

Thank you for joining us on this segment of The Man Behind the Camera. Tune in next time for, “Funny Marriage Quirks.”

5 Little Ways to Say “I Love You” [for her]

5 Little Ways to Say "I Love You" [for her]

Happy Friday!!

I am so PUMPED for the weekend – it’s gonna be low key and chill and I am ready to embrace that. Quite literally – it’s chilly outside! I love marriage, I love my husband, and I love to show him my love. When yous study the ways women and men love each other, you see a lot of similarities, but a lot of stark differences. Of course every single person is different, so there is never going to be a one and done formula on how to love. Rather, you study your person, get to know who they are, what makes them tick, and what makes them swoon.

A couple weeks ago, I shared a few tips for the guys to woo their girl, but this time I’ve got 5 inexpensive ways to say “I love you” to your man.

5 Little Ways to Say "I Love You" [for her]

Give Him a Guy’s Night

I love spending every moment I can with my husband, but I know there are moments when we both need to spend time with other people. Especially when you’re married, it’s easy to be cooped up at home in the evenings. When you think about how much time you spend at work and how much time you actually spend with your significant other, it’s enough to make you want to quit your jobs and try to get paid to travel. Despite how much time you want to spend with your lovah, he needs his dudes. Kick him out of the house every now and then for wings and video game night.

Cook His Favorite Meal 

I adhere to the good old Southern saying that says “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Interestingly enough, Mr. M grew up not admiring food as much as we Americans do. I would ask him, “What do you want for dinner?” and he would always say whatever. Luckily, his favorite American meals are also my favorite American meals (chili and potato soup), so on the cold fall and winter days, he comes home a happy man when there’s chili with lots of meat stewing in the crockpot.

We like to take turns on date nights, so when it’s a special occasion, I’ll whip up a fancier meal than normal, kick him into the living room for some quality FIFA time, and I’ll prepare a candlelit dinner and dress up in something nice.

5 Little Ways to Say "I Love You" [for her]

Let Him Play His Video Games

Speaking of FIFA, you can absolutely love your man by letting him play his video games. I won major points last year for Christmas when I got Mr. M the only thing he wanted off the wedding registry (that I knew he definitely wasn’t going to get) – a playstation 4. We spent the winter months of marriage cuddled up on the couch under blankets – he played FIFA and I read my book. I didn’t always understand it before, but video games can be a necessary part of unwinding for millennial guys. When your man works hard all day and helps around the house in the afternoon, he deserves a solid hour or two to zone out with some online competition.

Be Respectful 

Husband’s love to be praised and respected, especially in public. I have to take a page out of my own book some days. While I love to consciously uplift and honor my husband, I don’t always keep control of my tongue on the bad days. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m a bit sassy. While the sass chills out the older I get, sometimes my sweet husband still gets the brunt of it. There are still many times when we are “discussing” something and I let my emotions take control. When I’m in my rational mind (aka I’m fed), I look back and think “Oh no!” It’s something I’m still working on in every moment of conflict. The longer we’re married, the less I want to have those “oh no!” moments, and the more I want to be respectful and honor my husband in every situation – even when I’m hungry.

Say Yes Even When You Don’t Want To

In the past 9 months of marriage I have learned how selfish I am. There are many times I would rather read my book or do my own thing than do whatever it is Mr. M wants to do. It’s so easy to say “Not right now” or “Later” when your husband wants to go work out, talk, be intimate – whatever it is he wants to do that interferes with your schedule. Remembering that time is precious and we don’t have a lot of it keeps things in perspective. I’m learning to say “yes” even when I have things I want to do. The neat thing is, when I am willing to sacrifice whatever it is on my schedule in the moment, I find that saying yes brings a blessing into that moment.

5 Little Ways to Say "I Love You" [for her]

What are some things you like to do to say “I love you” to your man?