It's not a long list, but I have learned something
I always hesitate to write about marriage at all because I feel like we haven't been married very long and what do I know anyway? I have written on cross-cultural marriage, but that's different. I read a lot of books about that, and it is a bit abnormal. My experience there is a little more unique, though I would say that cross-cultural marriage issues are exactly what same-culture marriage issues are, just exaggerated.
In honor of our 8th anniversary today, I'm sharing my 1 marriage tip. It combines what I learned in reading about cross-cultural marriage (but is applicable to all relationships), my experience of 8 years, and the marriage tip I found in a Dean Koontz book a couple of years ago.
There was a couple that was from the same culture at first glance. They were both white, born in the USA, same religion, and both spoke English as a first language. The wife was the daughter of immigrants and saw family relations much differently than the husband. They had gone to counseling to work out some disagreements about their relationship to their birth families. They were each asked, "How often do you see your parents?" in two ways: first in terms of rarely, sometimes, often and second specifically how many times per week or month or year. The wife said that they rarely see her parents, while the husband said they often see his. In specific terms, they see both sets of parents once a month.
It's not a story about how often a married couple should visit their parents. It's about how we all interpret vague words from our own perspective.
Being a cross-cultural couple, Rodgers and I recognize this much more frequently in our communication with each other. We have learned to ask, "What do you mean by _____?" or "Give me an example of _____," to ensure we've understood each other.
Rodgers has learned to ask me, "What can I do to help?" instead of calling from another room, "Let me know if I can help," or just assuming that if I need something I'd tell him, which I don't because I expect him to see what needs to be done the same way I see it.
I really should tell him if I need something, and this is what I'm learning.
Isn't it obvious what needs to be done? Isn't it obvious that I can't possibly put away the cold groceries and get the boys in the shower and start a load of laundry because the water is finally running again and we have mountains of dirty clothes and throw something together for supper at the last minute because we were late getting home and everyone is hungry and grumpy all at the same time? On one hand, I say, "Yes!" It should be. But on the other hand, "what needs to be done" is one of those vague things that is defined by our own experience, our own perspective. And this is one that I think is less influenced by culture and more influenced by the roles one performs in the household. So this is for everybody.
This is my one tip.
When I need something from my husband, I have to say exactly what it is in very specific words. But, I can't be emotional (that confuses him) or bossy (that stimulates his defiant personality). I find it best to pose it as a question or invitation, keeping in mind that he may have priorities that are actually more important than mine. (Who knew, right?) And also, it's best to give a little forewarning. For example, "When we get home, my priorities will be putting away groceries, getting supper going, making sure the boys get in the shower, and starting a load of laundry if the water is running. Are you available to help me with any of that?"
He always says yes because we're a team and when I have too much, he picks up my slack if he has been made aware of it. I also pick up his slack when needed, though not with as good an attitude as he would have. Maybe that will be my lesson 8 years from now.