Marriage tip: Say what you mean

My husband and I will celebrate our anniversary soon. Honestly, we’ve gotten along remarkably well, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have things to work on. 

Over the course of our 19 years, near miraculously, I have learned how to tell him my concerns without crying. But you know what? I still need to work on being clear about my requests. Thankfully, he covers my flaws by having (sort of) learned to read my mind. This ridiculous exchange clearly demonstrates how:

The other night my husband offered to use a gift certificate to pick up pizza so no one would have to make dinner. During the course of the day, I had gone to pick up groceries and our freezer was packed. I was beginning to think I should just make dinner instead and free up some space. Then I got a text:

Husband: I’m way behind. I hope to be home by 6.

Me: No worries. It’s an easy night. I could make cheeseburger soup instead.

Husband: Picking up pizza shouldn’t be too hard. Can you order it?

Me: Sure. I picked up groceries today and our freezer is packed.

I’m going to pause right here to acknowledge how ridiculous it was to hint about soup and comment on the full state of our freezer instead of saying I would prefer to make dinner. Thankfully, he sensed something was up because the phone rang.

“I offered to pick up pizza, but it sounds like you really want to make soup,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Then say that,” he requested.

See, that would have been easier. 

Why am I sharing this? Because this small example is a reminder that we could save some time and trouble by simply saying what we mean. And if we are clear on minor topics such as pizza versus soup, we will be ready for clear communication when weightier topics come up. 

So, as an anniversary gift to my husband, I’m going to be clearer with my replies. That way he won’t be tempted to mull over this passage: “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife” (Proverbs 21:19). 

P.S. Please know that I do not mean that we should say everything that’s on our minds. Because, to be honest, that’s not healthy either. Everyone thinks stupid, hurtful things, and we should keep those to ourselves. Say what is useful for building each other up and for expressing your concerns and desires in love.

Another P.S. I’ve written about other ways to improve communication. Check out this communication starters post.

 

Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who learned early in marriage that when she shut a silverware drawer firmly, her husband didn’t know she meant, “I’d like some help in the kitchen.” Weird, hey? Oh, and the cheeseburger soup was delicious.

 
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