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I’m baaaaaaack! Happy Monday, friends! It feels like it’s been *ages*, even tho it’s just been a long weekend essentially. New York Fashion Week can just feel like an eternity sometimes. 😉 Either way, SUPER glad to be back behind the screen at 6 am on a Monday with a cuppa coffee the size of my head. #necessary. Onward to more V-Day goodness. Today’s post was originally set to be tips on dealing with conflict in relationship. It was actually a topic you guys requested quite a bit in my reader survey, so I figured it would be super relevant this week! Then last night, J + I went to a mini-Valentine’s Day couples’ church retreat. And boy oh boy was it good. Today’s post is *still* driven by tips on dealing with conflict in relationships, but I just HAD to infused some of last night’s wisdom throughout + pass it along. Cos y’all, it is what it is, and it was GOOD.
At the event, a couple with the most inspiring, sad, heartwarming story spoke. The husband was first married to a woman who then tragically died of cancer – she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma when she was 9 months pregnant with their second child. The wife was first married to a pilot who was the first officer on United flight 175 – the second plane to hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. Let that sink in for a hot sec…
They both shared their stories of love + loss + trusting in God’s plan through it all, and WOWEE, not a dry eye in the room. The couple was then just sharing #AllTheThings with how they’ve continued on in life in the face of such immense tragedy + heartache + pain to find renewed purpose + strength. And J + I left feeling so dang inspired. I couldn’t NOT share it all with you guys – it was such GOLD, yo!
Today’s post is like a Monday Mantra mixed with a relationship/love post mixed with Valentine’s Day. HAHA WHAT. I swear it all comes together. 😉 The mantra is a key phrase that this couple shared to carry on with both of their lives after all of the above. And then the love post coming with J + I both sharing some thoughts on conflict in relationships. Ready…go.
“It is what it is.”
It is what it is – stop judging it. Remove judgment from your mindset entirely.
This woman came to a point where she does not condemn the terrorists who killed her husband and countless others in taking over United flight 175 on September 11th, 2001. I mean, can you believe that? IDK about you, but I don’t think I would have the strength to be able to say that. She told a heartwrenching story of how her husband used to call home to sing a song called “Rise and Shine” to wake up their 6 and 8 year old kids when he was away traveling to fly. On that particular day – 9/11/01 – he was first officer on the flight. The co-captain turned on the microphone so that the entire flight from NY to LA could hear the officer singing to his kids, to be funny and put everyone in a good mood on the plane.
The terrorists were on that plane.
They heard this man singing a song to his 6-year-old and 8-year-old to wake them up.
And then they killed him.
And this woman was haunted by that fact for years, she said. That image – it’s nauseating to consider. But this woman has been able to come to a point where she doesn’t call them evil – or even wrong. She was able to accept that the One that inevitably judges mankind at the end is a lot higher paygrade than all of us – and that it’s not her/our place to just walk around all day making judgments about things or people.
“It is what it is.”
Instead of associating a judgment with everything, learn to accept things for what they are and make choices thereafter accordingly. We can place arbitrary judgments on things, but at the end of the day…they don’t actually change things. She said she could judge the terrorists for the rest of her life, calling them hateful, evil people – that wouldn’t bring her husband back to life. That wouldn’t bring any of the victims of 9/11 back, nor would it necessarily make change in preventing something like that from ever happening again.
But taking it for what it was – for what it IS – and trying to productively move forward without judgment…that’s been transformative for her, her family, her healing, and SO many others that she speaks to now.
They gave 4 “keys” to relationships: Trust/Faith, Respect, Communication, + Love.
Their points were much more faith-based since it was a religious retreat, but J + I wanted to take those themes + expand on ’em as to how they’ve been relevant/how we think of them whenever we have conflict in our own relationship. And TBH, much of this has also been wisdom learned from others way more “experienced” than us in the whole marriage thing. 😉 Pictures of us interspersed throughout just to give ya a break – ha!
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E – Trust/faith in each other, trust/faith in God. When you’re in a relationship – strike that, when you’re in the *right* relationship – you have total trust of that person. Sure, you might think they’re being an idiot sometimes. Or heck, sometimes you’re being the idiot (guilty – ha). But at the end of the day, you’re a team – and you’ve gotta trust your teammate to help get it done. At the same time, you’ve gotta remember what you’re playing. On a team, you’re not playing against your own teammates – you’re playing against the other team. This is something J + I have had to remind ourselves waaaaaaay often – that whenever we’re disagreeing/arguing about something, we’ve gotta put the issue on one side of the fence and stand together on the other side to address the issue. Totally getting metaphorical here, but ya get my gist. 😉 You’ve gotta trust that you’re always on the same team to address the conflict on the “other” side. Sure, it might not always feel like you’re still on the same team – heck, you might be fighting because of blatantly + blaringly different ideas, viewpoints, or opinions. But I think it’s important (and this is one I’ve learned from older/wiser folks, and it works 😉 ) to remember that for a relationship to have staying power, you’ve GOTTA know how to separate the issue/conflict at hand from your actual relationship, as hard as that is sometimes (cos it ain’t always easy). And much of that comes from trusting that you have each other’s best interest at heart always, and that you’re mutually dedicated to each other + to your love(lovelove).
J – I used to get aggravated over things that don’t matter – why the dishes aren’t done all the time, but when you know the other person didn’t do that to upset you, it changes how you approach that situation. So, approaching conflict, I am trying to adapt to always subconsciously knowing my wife isn’t intentionally trying to upset me in any way.
I’ve also recently dove into reading the entire bible by the end of this year, and through my 48 days or so of that challenge I’ve learned a lot about faith and conflict, and nothing in our relationship will ever rival what Jesus (and many others) had to endure yet kept their faith. So, that really puts everything into perspective for me.
E – I think knowing your love language is suuuuuper important in a relationship. But even more than that, I think knowing your fighting language is equally important. Meaning, how do you fight? And how does your partner fight? What do you do when you’re mad? How do you show that you’re angry? What do you NEED when you’re upset, and same with your partner? This was (slash still is sometimes) a biggie for us.
J needs space when he’s upset about something. He needs time away from me to process before responding, so that he doesn’t just gut react and then say something he’ll regret.
Me, on the other hand – I need things resolved ASAP. I’m not someone who fears confrontation at ALL – I just hate ongoing tensions or unresolved issues. I’m a bing-bang-boom kinda gal, so if something is just taking up time + thought, I need it addressed.
These two facts in + of themselves have been the sources of so much ongoing conflict for us, because we just couldn’t get it through our thick, both stubborn skulls that we needed to each give a bit to respect the other’s style. It would be cray (+ hella difficult) for J to just be like, “OK E, I know you need to talk about this right away to feel OK, so even though I have no clue what I want to say or how to address this best, let’s just jump right in!” And same for me to just push him into conversation he did not want to have in the heat of a moment. And yet, GUESS WHAT I DID FOR YEARS. Ha. 😉 If we were in a fight, I could NOT understand for the life of me how/why someone wouldn’t want to fix it STAT. J would be able to just go do other things – like play a video game or take a nap. And I was all OH NO YOU DIDN’T thinking he was being a careless ass when really, he was processing information so that he could respond rationally and without unnecessary heat to further fuel a fire. Of course in the moment, I didn’t see that. So I’d just boil. I’d be all dramatic doing household chores really loudly, slamming doors, etc in the hopes of getting his attention to remind him HEY, WE ARE HAVING A PROBLEM.
I like to think we’ve improved on this quiiiiiite a bit in our nearly 6 years together now – basically because we learned through our lowest lows that we HAD to figure out sh*t out here or we wouldn’t last. I had to get it through my brain that different reactions to conflict didn’t mean we cared any less about the relationship or the other person – it just meant we had different styles under heat, and different fighting languages. And we each had to learn to respect the other’s style + work with it as best possible instead of coming into the relationship expecting a total 180 change to just accommodate the other person’s style.
J – Man, this article is difficult to write because it’s exposing all the crappy things I had to come to terms with in a relationship and being married, but that’s progress. I feel like our age group today refrains from marriage because we want respect for ourselves and don’t feel like we can achieve that in today’s society where everything is about tolerance. But who we are now doesn’t mean that’s the best version of us, and marriage challenges that thought every day and every way. The end result? We become – hopefully – the best version of ourselves which – hopefully – inspires others to do the same.
Real talk: I had a ton of issues coming into our relationship, yet Erica had respect for who I was but knew I could be better. I didn’t know it at the time because I was raised differently, but instead of Erica simply “tolerating” who I was and “accepting” me for who I am, she challenged my beliefs. Since I was open to listening and she was extremely patient, I began understanding that I needed to be better. It took time… a lot of time, but I’m better for it.
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E – Ladies, he can’t read your mind. And he oftentimes can’t read your totally-obvious-to-you-and-to-the-rest-of-the-female-race-but-not-actually-obvious clues. 😉 If you want a subtle hint, I’m your gal. I’m the BEST at subliminal messaging, dropping hints, passive signals – the whole nine yards of body language + non-verbal communication. But like…he’s not getting that, nor can he be expected to get that.
One of my hardest battles in relationships (slash life in general) is managing expectations.
I usually have waaaaaay too high expectations for myself – unhealthily high ones, often. Like, of course E, you can totally get up at 6 to work, workout everyday, quadruple your income, deep clean the whole house, and start a charity before 24. Make Forbes 30 under 30 while you’re at it. HA. Like, no. Calm down, E.
That sometimes transfers over to how I think of my relationship tho, which obvi ain’t good. Because oftentimes, I’m not even AWARE that I’m doing it – I just have skyhigh expectations for J + for us in general and I’m not even communicating what they are in the first place. So…how’s a poor guy gonna know any better?! If you don’t explain pointblankperiod what you’re thinking, wanting, needing, expecting…he cannot be expected to just know. Learn that lesson as early as possible and you’ll save yourself quite a few tussles along the way. 😉
J – I would like to think this is my best category during conflict, but often times it is my worst. I used to use “yes, but” a lot during our debates, but that does nothing. Let me repeat: that accomplishes nothing. I wasn’t listening; I was prepping my comeback. That’s not love in a relationship, and it doesn’t matter if you’re right. It’s about you and your significant other becoming better together. Remember, being right isn’t greater than being happy. Once you can swallow that pill, your perspective will change. I continue to work on this one!
*E’s note: Going off of J’s comment, the couple last night said to switch “yes, but” to “yes, AND.”
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E – Someone once told me that it’s important to have a “safe word” in an argument that one of you can say when things take an unreasonable/irrational turn, so that both parties know what it means and know where the convo is headed. The key: It has to be something funny/silly so that you both stop, have a mini-realization, and can hopefully laugh a bit because someone just said “purple poopy monkey” in the middle of an otherwise too-serious moment. 😉 But the point is to help put your love first. So that you’re never so caught up in your own anything that you forget what the heck you’re fighting for in the first place.
That being said, one of my favorite things to do is to get all mushy whenever possible and be super intentional about reminding each other about the things you love about the other. This day + age is so dang SERIOUS and intense most of the time – it’s like a sign of the times. If we’re not intentional + diligent in our marriage, it can quickly start to feel more like a roommate situation. It helps to be always thinking of a new little something to do justbecause, to make your partner think of you + remember why you fell in lovelovelove. Keep things lighthearded + fun + fueled with feelings of young love as much as possible!
Also, put the other person first. Always. Relationships aren’t 50/50 – they’re 100/100. Give 100% of yourself to your partner. If they also give 100% of them to you, you’ll both always be taken care of AND loved in the most beautiful, selfless way – you’ve got each other’s backs.
J – I’ve recently had an epiphany that I need to put Erica before myself – happy wife, happy life, eh? and that being right is not greater than being happy. Marriage is an interesting paradox in that you think you’re giving up yourself but you’re actually gaining so much more. Erica makes me a better man each day whether I want to be or not. She’s that constant reminder that I can be better for myself, her and the world. Knowing how selfless she has been toward me throughout our years pairs with love with trust and faith to know she’s only trying to help when conflict arises – even if I don’t know it in the moment.
ALSO. To top it off + bring it all back around.
The couple had time for Q&A at the end.
A woman raised her hand. She said:
“I’m blind, so I’ve had my fair share of struggle in life. Everyone remembers where they were on September 11, 2001. My husband and I were going through a tough time then, thinking of separating. When it happened, we came together to watch the news, and we realized some folks had much harder struggles now than we did, and that our relationship was worth fighting for. We’ve been together ever since, married 22 years.”
The woman said, “And that’s why I share my story.” And of course, I just cried. Ha. I mean…what a story. WHAT A STORY.
SO. Love your person a little harder this week, MK?
Ok y’all, PHEW. That was a book. But…you asked for it. 😉 Ha! I hope that was helpful to some of y’all! It’s a total word vomit recapping last night + sharing our thoughts, so if we weren’t clear on anything, let us know. It’s all about communication. 😉
How do you deal with conflicts in relationships?
Be that your significant other, spouse, best friend, randos at work, etc! I’d lovelovelove to hear what works for you slash what brings about the most *peace* when implementing, since that’s hella important. 🙂
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