I asked my husband to dispense some wisdom from the male perspective regarding advice he’d give to other stepfamily couples. His first statement was, “don’t be a nag!”
According to http://dictionary.com, nag is defined: to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands. Dr. Markman said, “nagging is the enemy of love, if allowed to persist.”
Communication is the key to a happy marriage. And with being a stepfamily, communication is even more critical. If you are going to be open and honest throughout your journey together, processing feelings is going to be a major factor in having productive communication. Sometimes processing feelings can be an uphill battle. The differences between men and women and their way of communicating, stubborn personalities, processing time, and/or simply not having the proper skills can all be factors that contribute to communication breakdown. Remember…Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Men don’t process the same as women. Sometimes women expect their partners to process just as they do and that’s not fair. Does your partner know how to process his feelings? We’re in a culture that teaches men not to express their feelings and emotions. It can be viewed as weak or not masculine. Be patient in allowing your partner time to learn how to express themself and communicate successfully.
Tips on What To Do and What Not To Do
Don’t communicate when triggered: If you are triggered or in an alerted state, it is better to take a break and resume communication when calm. Trying to resolve conflict in the middle of a triggered state tends to be unsuccessful.
Do committed listening: When you are calm and able to communicate, it’s important to not only talk, but to also listen. Committed listening is a skill. Rather than thinking about what to say next, actively listen to your partner. You can also mirror back what they are saying, so they know you are listening in a committed way.
Don’t place blame: Placing blame doesn’t fix anything. It just distracts both of you from actually resolving the issue at hand.
Do validate. Taking the time to validate your partner’s feelings allows them to feel heard and understood.
Don’t expect perfection: Sometimes the expectations we have for our partners is too high. It’s important to be supportive of them even if you feel they let you down.
Do have reasonable expectations: Being realistic will help ease the pressure off your partner. Men are fixers and providers and want to be reassured that they are doing their job.
Don’t make assumptions: Men and women often have communication challenges due to assumptions. Both parties tend to assume things that aren’t actually true.
Do ask questions: Rather than assuming and “making an ass out of you and me”, ask questions, observe, and listen actively.
Don’t my way or the highway: This type of thinking in any relationship is dangerous. Relationships are all about learning about each other, gaining perspective, compromising, and growing as a team. My way of thinking isn’t supportive of a team mentality.
Do teamwork: Being a team and having a team mentality will allow you to solve problems together, make growth, and commit to life as a couple. Just having a team mentality can bring you strength.
Don’t rush processing time: Rushing processing doesn’t allow the natural process to take its course.
Do be patient with processing: Everyone processes differently. If your partner processes slower, be patient with them and allow them the chance to process things on their timeline.
Communication is the key to a happy marriage and stepfamily life. Nagging is an ineffective form of communication. Although men and women communicate differently, if you are both committed to improving communication, you will be unstoppable.
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