If you’re a fan of “The Office”, you’ll catch my reference on this one. And while the silly counseling tip “Speak Your Truth” was conveyed as obnoxious and cheesy, there was definitely some truth lingering beneath the awkward delivery.
Let me explain how I learned to speak MY truth.
THANKFULLY Ryan and I took premarital counseling. If you’re not yet married, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. It gave us a great head start into an amazing marriage. And if you are married and never received premarital counseling, don’t shy away from counseling now! It can only ever help, so don’t think twice about it.
During our sessions, we discussed how we each tend to handle conflict. I discovered that I essentially played the silent game. And I actually tried to defend my position!! My
excuse explanation was that I didn’t want to speak wrongly out of my immediate emotions, instead I needed to think it over before presenting my position.
Well…the advice provided by our counselor confused me at first. He explained, “You need to share what you’re feeling WHEN you’re feeling it, not after it’s had time to fester. If you speak wrongly or hurt Ryan’s feelings, he’ll get over it. He needs to understand it’s more important for you to share your feelings, than to wait for the right words. He’ll just have to learn to take it with a grain of salt.” Obviously not his exact words, but essentially this concept has made a tremendous impact!
I began sharing frustrations sooner rather than later. I would still think over my words, but would also start with something like, “I don’t want to be rude or blunt, but…” That way, he knew I was sharing in what I hoped to be a safe place, not wanting to offend, but merely wanting to correct misunderstandings or frustrations.
It definitely took a few years to correct my old behavior (and patience on Ryan’s part for listening…), but it changed the way we handled conflict. Instead of building up resentment and blowing up after holding in my emotions, we just discussed things a bit more often. To speak Pam’s truth (quoted from The Office)…
“I wish we’d started this exercise six months ago. My heart just feels so…blocked up.”
Thanks to our counselor, I didn’t have to let my heart “get blocked up”. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth having a 5 minute petty argument rather than a 6 month long fight potentially scarring the marriage.
P.S. – RIGHT before bed when you’re both tired is probably not the best time to speak your truth.
So there you have it, officially on the countdown of 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage…
#9. speak your truth (asap-the longer you don’t, the worse things will get)
And just for fun, I leave you with one of our engagement pictures…the time frame of beginning the journey of speaking my truth. =)