Disclaimer: Joel is stubborn. Stubborn as a baby. Stubborn as a boy. Stubborn as a man and a hus-ban. In a working relationship, they say you’re supposed to be a servant. And it turns out that just because “stubborn” also starts with an “s” doesn’t mean it’s also good for a relationship.

Alyssa and I have yelled at each other before. We try to do it less now that Olson is around. But sometimes, one or both of us run out of patience, run out of steam or let off some steam at each other.

Don’t try this at home.

Keeping peace in your home, whether it be with family/roommates/etc, is not about staying quiet, necessarily. But more about communicating the things that you’re constantly thinking. Communication does not equal talking. Some people that I know who talk the most, communicate the least. It takes a courageous mouth, attached to a brave heart, speaking to humble ears, for communication to work. The mistakes I made early on in my relationship with Alyssa were such that I did not have a humble ear. I heard Alyssa talking, but I did not hear with servant’s ears…I heard with stubborn ears. (It’s in my genetics.) Not to sound all “super husband,” but I could have single-handedly stopped every single one of the fights we’ve had in our relationship. Yes, we’ve had fights. And there may be more in our future.

Here are a few things that you may want to try at home, but as a “professional” on a “closed course” I advise you “DO NOT!”

Don’t try this at home no. 1: If you want someone to realize how wonderful you are, don’t do it by force. One of the worst argument tactics I’ve used in a fight with Alyssa is briefing her on all the things I do that make me an “award-winning” person/husband. Fishing for compliments is not sexy. Being compliment worthy is sexy.

Don’t try this at home no. 2: Don’t use the ammunition of “I’ve been thinking this for a long time, but haven’t said anything until nowin an argument. This will only work against you, because it will prove that you had multiple chances to communicate and you chose not to.

Don’t try this at home no. 3: Don’t compare your relationship with other people’s. ***Exception no. 1- You may have friends or relationships that inspire you and that is okay. But don’t waste your time comparing. It will only pull you farther away from the other person and allow you to lie to yourself. Most of the relationships we love are those that have been shaped by countless hours of mutual submission, love and personal growth. ***Exception no. 2- Alyssa and I have found much solace in spending time with other couples when we bond over a shared experience. For example, we had some friends over to our 660 square foot apartment for dinner and a sleepover one night early in our marriage. At some point early on in our discussions, we both opened up and shared about recent fights we had had as individual couples. This, when done in a sober and positive manner, can be therapeutic. It helps you realize that we are all human together. And even though we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other people, we can relate.

Don’t try this at home no. 4: Don’t talk bad about somebody you love. Ever. Even if you don’t have anything else to talk about. My parents used to say, “If you don’t have anything good to say”… (you finish the rest). Another lie that we allow ourselves to believe is “If I just share this frustration I have about this person with someone else, then I will be able to handle it better.” Don’t try this at home!

Don’t try this at home no. 5: Don’t go crying to mommy and daddy when you’re big enough to work it out. God has given us the capacity to love and forgive each other, so exercise that capacity! When we exercise something, it will grow and become stronger.

I will leave you with a favorite scripture of mine:

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (KJV)

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