Today The Hudsucker welcomes the accomplished and congenial, Jenna Guerin—an editor for WeddingDay Magazine. The gracious Minnesota-born and raised writer is also a content specialist for Monkeyhouse Marketing and staff writer at Life+Spaces.
Jenna Guerin is a Minnesota-born and -raised writer with a passion for words and a contagious enthusiasm for weddings and romance. She now resides in Notre Dame country in the Hoosier state while serving as the editor of WeddingDay Magazine, as a staff writer at Life+Spaces Magazine, and as a content specialist for Monkeyhouse Marketing. She has a background in journalism and a future in professional cookie tasting. Jenna makes every effort to surround herself with beautiful things like good books, her favorite cookie recipes, fiercely passionate people, Christmas lights, and her two Giant Schnoodle puppies.
It’s not a matter of if, but unquestioningly, a matter of when. There will come a point after your wedding day when the euphoria of newlywed life nonchalantly subsides. It often happens in undetectable ways as reality forces its way back in your life. Months after you’ve framed the wedding photos and put away the registry items, you come to realize that you and your significant other have more differences beyond the differences you have already come to accept.
You can’t possibly fathom why he needs to practice his golf swing three nights a week. He doesn’t understand that Thursday nights are reserved for Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. He’s a night owl, you’re a morning person. He puts dishes in the dishwasher that clearly say “not dishwasher safe.” You shrunk his favorite Nike Dry Fit t-shirt while doing his laundry.
These little moments are innocent and usually irritating but shrugged off. But the thing is, these moments tend to add up. They interlace themselves with life’s hurdles and baggage. They come disguised in the form of rolled eyes and sighing. They are fueled by passive aggressiveness and miscommunication. And they seem insignificant until you suddenly find yourself in your first real fight as a married couple.
That initial fight can incite several feelings, but fear is often the most prevalent. The fear is usually masked by anger, which of course, propels arguments. The fear emerges from thoughts that maybe you made a mistake—maybe you’re not meant to be together or maybe you got married too soon.
The first thing you need to do is stop thinking those thoughts. Entertaining thoughts like that can easily become a habit—a dangerous habit. If you need to cool off, let your significant other know that you need a little time to collect your thoughts. This can also become a dangerous habit though. Only walk away when absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you will find that you frequently walk away from arguments to avoid them. There is a difference between diminishing an argument and avoiding one.
Use the time to really understand why you’re upset. Are you really upset that your husband was late for dinner or are you upset because you remember your dad never coming home for dinner before your parents were divorced? Self-reflection is important because you need to know what or where your feelings stem from. This can help you determine whether you have unresolved feelings or issues that you are bringing in to your marriage and will help you communicate that to your spouse so they understand where you’re coming from.
After your cool-down time, approach your spouse in an open and inviting way. It should be visibly clear to him that you are in control of your emotions and are ready to have a conversation, not a fight. This should make him lower his guard and defense so you both can effectively communicate what just happened in that fight. I am sure you have heard this before, but don’t use accusatory words like “you did this” or “when you said.” Instead, try to phrase it with the focus on yourself: “I feel unimportant when it seems like you aren’t listening to me” versus “You make me feel unimportant when you don’t listen to me.” It’s important not to shame or accuse your spouse, but instead make them aware of how you feel. And you do need to remember that just because you feel a certain way, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the truth about the situation!
Next, relinquish your desire to prove a point. Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Trying to prove a point might make you feel temporarily gratified, but it won’t last. Winning a marital argument is fruitless when the only person you’ve defeated is on your team. Believe me when I tell you that saying you’re sorry for your part in the fight can feel a little painful and humbling, but the results are much more productive than holding on to pride!
There are no set rules to adhere to when it comes to a newlywed fight, but there are certainly a few best practices to rely on. Always keep in mind that everyone engages in conflict, but there are ways to do so that is honoring to the person you committed to!