Monday, March 19, 2012

Let's Talk (Part 1 of 3)

Pillar number two: Mental.

This is also a fairly obvious one to me, mental/spiritual connection. You need to be able to talk to your other half. I don’t think that every married couple should be super intelligent and have intellectual debates in their spare time. It just means that you can easily carry out many, many conversations with that person on a daily basis and not get bored. It is simply communication (more on that later).

A friend of mine once explained it to me like this: if you are living with this person, seeing them every day, you work for 8 hours and sleep for 8 hours, that’s 8 hours left over in the company of your partner. I ask you, would it be healthy to never have any kind of conversation in those 8 hours?

You don’t have to have the same interests. People tend to look for common interests in a potential partner when it rarely has any bearing on compatibility (at least that’s how I see it). It’s less about the what and more about the how. The beauty of marriage is you learn of such things from each other. I do think, however. it is important to have somewhat similar mental capacities. Fear not, just because one is incapable of holding an intelligent conversation, does not mean you are doomed. It just means you are likely to have better luck with someone who is similarly incapable in that department. You can talk about celebrity hairstyles instead or gossip about the latest events and vacation spots to both your hearts’ content. There is someone for everyone in that respect. For every Barbie (or Fulla), there is a Ken (is there a male Fulla?).

Talking to one another has to be easy and effortless. You must feel comfortable to say what you want and actually enjoy the conversations you have, whatever the topic may be. There is also comfort in the silence when in each other’s company, you don’t have to talk all the time. Not everyone likes to spend their evenings talking; not much of a talker, more the silent type. As long as both of you are happy doing so, neither one is feeling deprived of anything and you are comfortable with how it is. But when one person likes to sit and ponder on life’s wonders (or even worse, talk about ‘feelings’), and the other likes to just watch the news and randomly comment to a one-person audience, there could be a problem. If one person wants to be challenged mentally while the other is mentally challenged, there could be a problem. How can a marriage last under such circumstances? Day in and day out, such a simple thing could become a burden or just downright annoying, and it could ultimately put a huge strain on the relationship. It is important that whatever level you are at mentally, your other half is hovering nearby.

Also, it’s not just what you talk about, it’s how you talk. Some couples prefer to keep things simple and are quite laidback, while others demand an air of respect when spoken to by their partners. Bottom line, whatever floats your boat, as long as both of you are in it. It should all come easily, shouldn’t feel forced.

Another concern is not just to feel comfortable, but to feel safe too, as  Mark Grungor (of ‘Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage’) explains in the following video: 

I found that some people, particularly those with older siblings, have grown up hiding what they think for fear of being ridiculed. Perhaps some people grew up in an environment where they felt they were never heard, or whenever they did speak, they would immediately get shut down. I find this more common with men than women (women rarely have trouble talking, they never need more than a nudge). For this reason, sometimes you need to make the extra effort to cut back on the ridicule and teasing to allow your other half to feel safe when talking to you. Try not to be condescending or insulting either. They wouldn’t feel the need to hold back on anything. No matter how fun and light-hearted your relationship may seem, know that there are boundaries. Sometimes all you are required to do is listen, you don't always have to nag your way in. Let them know the door is open and they will come to you when they are good and ready. 

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