Learning to have healthy communication in marriage is a cornerstone to enjoying your spouse. Little did I know we would get some practice and learn some valuable lessons and crucial skills right out of the gate, on our honeymoon in Paris.
All my dreams had come true, I had found my soulmate and we were married in front of 400 of our closest friends and family. We were finally alone and on our first adventure as a married couple. We could now be alone in our own hotel room, in fact it was now a command from God to enjoy each other in the best ways, all while honeymooning in Paris! What could go wrong you ask… food or rather the lack of it!
When we give pre marital counseling, we always encourage couples to pursue healthy communication in marriage, which can sound somewhat ominous and cliche. I assure you it is a cornerstone and an essential skill in marriage. We warn couples against hashing out differences of opinion while hungry or tired, especially important things! We came by this advice honestly, our honeymoon really was a dream come true, we just got the opportunity to learn some lessons on communicating.
On a lovely September day in 2002, we entered into Holy Matrimony. (you can read about what 18 years married has been like for us here). We had just spent a lovely day full of pain au chocolat, baguettes, strolls by the Seine, even a street artist drawing our picture at the base of La Tour Eiffel.
No smart phones in those days, and cell phones weren’t practical to use internationally even for calling. Social media hadn’t come onto the scene, so we weren’t trying to find wifi at every café so we could post, or search for a good restaurant. We used good old fashioned paper maps (my hubby’s 4 years of French from high school and college came in handy too). I just melt when he speaks French, even if he is just ordering a ham sandwich. All of our photos were taken on a disposable camera, we just hoped they would turn out. On the up side, no extra distractions; on the downside, no ability to search near you to find what you are looking for, or say how much it might cost to get back to the Champs Élysées?
Paris was turning dark while we were at the top of the Eiffel Tower and we hadn’t eaten in quite a while. In those days, we carried cash with us, most places didn’t take a card especially taxis. After our full day, we were left with a certain amount of cash to eat dinner and get back to the hotel.
Having already walked about 10 miles, my feet were killing me as I was wearing platform shoes because I wanted to be cute on my honeymoon; and we. were. STARVING. My hubby flags down a taxi hoping he can tell us how much the ride back to the Champs Élysées might cost. He wouldn’t tell us (despite making the drive for 1000’s of tourists before us), we had no way of knowing if we would have enough cash to pay him and get dinner. We decide to walk, ensuring our ability to afford dinner.
Cue our novice understanding on how healthy communication in marriage should work. My hubby starts crossing the street. Something he didn’t fully comprehend about me yet was, I don’t like to jay walk or break rules of any kind. He is now half way across the street, I’m standing on the sidewalk and he says “come on.” I loose it and break down crying, my new husband is asking me to break the law in a foreign country! At least this is what is going through my head. My crying doesn’t help because he’s hungry, tired and now frustrated I didn’t walk with him. There are now cars driving between us, and we are across the street from each other. I’m thinking “I’m going to loose him or get kidnapped while he is across the street!” He’s thinking, “there were no cars when I crossed, it was safe, I was taking her on a shortcut so her hurting feet didn’t have to walk extra steps.”
I didn’t loose him or get kidnapped and he realized his faux pa. We made it to our destination with enough cash for dinner. Rather than give in to the temptation to be obstinate, we talked it out and and admitted we were both only emotional because of our hunger and fatigue; and both apologized for our lack of communicating our thoughts and needs in the moment. With full bellies, we made it safely back to the hotel, happy with each other and our new communication skill!
We have since traveled all over the world together and you may or may not be surprised to know, I do jay walk sometimes (shh don’t tell). My hubby never crosses a street without my hand in his and knowing I’m ok with it. We’ve learned to consider one another’s point of view, and over the years have learned to bend in places and have grace. Our pursuit to cultivate healthy communication in marriage has been well worth it. Like it says in the Bible:
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
If you keep this attitude in your everyday married life you will find an ease and peace will wash over your marriage. Healthy communication in marriage is in your reach, you just have to practice it! The Bible also says in 1 Corinthians 13 which is known as the love chapter that “ Love is not easily offended”. Keep this in mind while at home or traveling, if you feel things getting tense just zip your lips, have some grace and find yourself a baguette!