Controlling my temper has been a real challenge for me in my married life. I haven’t had a lot of positive role models in this regard, so sometimes I feel like I’m figuring all of this out from scratch.
Fortunately, my husband and I firmly believe that we are equal partners. We trust each other to work hard on becoming better and making our marriage work. Some essential ways that I contribute to the happiness of our marriage is to maintain self-control. I need to be willing to learn despite my quick temper. And I know my efforts make a difference. As he and I look for ways to be grateful and excited about our life together, our marriage becomes happier and happier.
I want that kind of life for you, too. If you have similar weaknesses, and a similar hope to improve them, then I hope you will find the tips I offer here useful. Marriage is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know our best days have a lot to do with my ability to keep my cool. Having seen how happy I am when I follow these simple steps, I believe you can find that much happiness, too.
1. Be grateful. I have discovered that I need to take a minute, or even just a few seconds, to be grateful in the face of conflict. I am absolutely crazy about my husband. That is a lot easier to remember when I acknowledge to myself how valuable his opinion has always been and how funny I think he is 95 percent of the time. That way, when he disagrees with me or makes a comment I don’t appreciate, I can offer a kind response rather than an angry one.
2. Make it a goal to listen. When someone says something hurtful, it is often a symptom of a clumsy attempt at persuasion. So what is that person really trying to say? If you listen a little less to the words and a little more to the feelings behind the words, you will discover what your family member is actually trying to say. This empowers you to respond with gentleness rather than becoming defensive in the face of a poorly stated concern.
3. Ask questions. I’m still in the process of learning this skill. But the times when I ask for clarification work a lot better than the times I assume my husband is being hurtful. He is the kindest person I know. But that doesn’t mean he always knows how to convey what he means. I try to assume his intentions are good, and that there’s just some kind of misunderstanding. At worst, I discover that he just didn’t think through what he said, and he would really like to try again. At best, I completely misunderstood, and he’s actually being very sweet, if a little inarticulate.
4. Have patience. Much like how a mother is patient with her children, we must be patient with ourselves as we try to acquire new strength of character. It’s not possible to become kind and gentle all at once. However, if it is something we always want and are always working on, we can definitely build these strengths.
Fact: We don’t always get what we want when we want it.
It’s normal to be briefly annoyed about this. However, it’s unsettling, and even a little frightening, to find that we are thoroughly angry with someone we love. Even when we are sure we are right, and someone firmly disagrees, it isn’t helpful to lose our tempers. And sometimes people will offend, criticize, or even snap at us for no good reason. If we want to be an asset in these situations and not a liability, it is important that we respond with gentleness rather than harshness and resentment.
This is easier said than done, of course, but with these tips, you will be well on your way to a cool head and a warm heart, even in conflict and stress.
Sara Hagmann is a stay-at-home wife and writer who loves traveling, cooking, and kissing her husband. A lot. She also blogs at recipeforhappy.blogspot.com.