Oh yeah, we’ve all been there…
The moment something goes wrong in our lives and we hear someone recite the famous quote by Dale Carnegie: “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
Well, yes, it is true that we can all be happier if we see the positive side of every situation, no matter how tragic it is. However, this is one of those things that are way, and I mean waaaaaayyyyyy easier said than done.
Remember your marriage vows???
“For better, for worse…” etc., etc., they state that no matter the circumstance, once you and your partner say the words “I do” you are supposed to stick together.
Unfortunately, many times, all it takes is a handful of life‘s “lemons” to be thrown their way to prove that the couple really wasn’t ready to make the commitment to each other that reciting those vows implies.
We see it happen every day right before our faces: the famous celebrity marriages that last as long as an ice cube slipped inside a cup of boiling water, stating the infamous “irreconcilable differences” as the main reason for their split.
“For better, for worse???” Yeah, right! How about “till something annoying that we’re too lazy to work through does us part”? Now that sounds more realistic. No wonder the rate of divorce is so high – After all, aren’t those celebrities today’s society’s “role models”?
If you wouldn’t give up on your own, why would you do it as a team?
Let’s face it, many of us have experienced some of life’s tragedies while being on our own and managed to overcome them in one way or another. The loss of a job. The loss of a loved one. Trouble within a family. The list goes on…
Unfortunately, in many cases, similar tough situations, when being faced by a married couple, can become the main cause of a breakup.
Why does this happen? After all, isn’t being married all about having someone by your side for the rest of your life? Why is it then that something challenging that can be overcome by one single individual, becomes the cause of the rupture of what should be the strongest relationship between two people?
The one skill no one has: Mind reading
It doesn’t matter how well you think you know another person, it is humanly impossible to read someone else’s thoughts.
We all have a mind of our own, and unless we speak up, what happens inside it, stays inside it! And since we all have a mind, we can pretty much state that there are as many thoughts and points of view of life as people in the world.
Given that mind reading is not a human skill, this pretty much means that there is only one way to find out what is in someone else’s mind: Through open, honest, thorough communication.
I see a bunch of sour lemons, you see a profit-generating lemonade stand.
When a tragic situation happens in our lives, every person affected by it reacts in a different way. Although the reactions might be similar among some people (for example, the feeling of sadness when a loved one dies,) every single person processes that event in their very own, personal way.
What this means, is that one person may see one situation in a completely different way than someone else does.
In the case of a married couple, one spouse may see something as a devastating tragedy, while the other one may not see it as something so terrible, or even as a new opportunity. For example, in the case of a home foreclosure, one spouse may see it as the horrific tragedy of ruining their otherwise immaculate credit, while the other spouse may see it as the great opportunity to move to a different state, closer to the family.
Unless both partners communicate thoroughly, the person who sees the event as a negative might assume that the other person, who sees the same event as not-so-negative (or even a positive!) doesn’t really care much about it, and find such reaction disrespectful and offensive. And that’s how the arguments begin.
Communication: It’s all about the right timing
Let’s face it, the last thing you want to hear right after your dog dies (yes, the one who was your best friend years before you met your spouse, who had to be officially “adopted” by your significant other when both of you tied the knot) are the words “it‘s ok honey, we can always get a new puppy.”
Or even worse: “Finally we’ll stop arguing over who gets to walk the dog when it rains!”
While it is true that you may have in mind getting a replacement for the late Fido, if that is said at the wrong time it will hit you like a ton of bricks. And, unfortunately, those comments tend to come usually from the people closest to you, of which your spouse tops the list.
Should something like this happen, the first thing you have to understand is that, in most cases, these comments are said by someone who loves you but has never “been in your shoes” before. This lack of life experience can lead to an unintentional lack of empathy. However, this doesn’t mean that such person doesn’t care about you!
Whenever your spouse says something that “rubs you the wrong way,” think of the reason why he or she might have said it. Have you both had a conversation regarding that particular matter which established where you both stand regarding the issue?
In most cases, chances are you haven’t. Translation: You both are having completely different thoughts regarding the same issue. And those thoughts can be quite different. And there’s no way to find that out unless you talk about it.
The next thing to do in this case is to wait for the right moment to discuss the matter of controversy. Don’t do it when one (or both) of you are extremely sensitive and/or emotional. Wait for a good time, when both of you are calm and can have a civilized conversation. You’ll see it’s not so difficult then to clear things up. Sometimes these matters, which can spark gigantic arguments – or even lead to breakups – can be solved in a 5 min. calm conversation.
So the next time you and your spouse spark an argument, try to hold off and analyze what is the main cause of this disagreement. If the time is right, open yourself up and discuss it. If it is not, simply state you don’t want to fight and walk away to calm down. Eventually you and your spouse will be able to handle whichever lemons life hands both of you… And perhaps even make some sweet, refreshing lemonade for two.
Yvonne and George Levy are Expert Marriage Educators and founders of I Love Being Happily Married, the world’s #1 community devoted to getting married, saving marriages and being happily married.
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