Marriage and The Uncomfortable Moments

When I think of what I've learned and heard about marriage since I was young, a few words come to mind. Patience, communication, hard work, kindness, empathy, discipline, and respect are all things that we've probably heard before. But I think there's another important idea that maybe doesn't get talked about enough, and that's discomfort. 

Oftentimes, when we think of "hard work" in marriage, we think about getting ourselves to put down our phone and offer a cup of tea to our spouse. Or biting our tongue so that we don't criticize or speak with passive aggression. These acts of thoughtfulness and discipline are vital in a marriage, but no matter how much we practice them, I've found that they don't exercise all the muscles needed for tough, uncomfortable, and even painful conversations and moments. 

In many tough conversations with all sorts of people throughout my life, I would almost always cry (did you choke up too when talking to a teacher about a bad grade??) I realized that sometimes I would cry and it would feel more genuine and honest. And then sometimes I would cry because I simply couldn't take the pressure and future consequences of a sensitive conversation. Either it would be an implicit "cry for help" to have mercy on me, or because the words, criticism, or issue was all-around too painful. I think that deep down, conversations are hardest when you feel they cast a light on what you think is wrong with yourself. If only I were different, I wouldn't have to go through this, and I wouldn't be having this conversation. 

I feel that facing tough feelings and conversations with as much honesty and bravery as possible is the ultimate statement that you believe in yourself and your spouse, separately, and as a couple. It's not easy to hear from a spouse that you've hurt them, or to tell your spouse that they did something that hurt you. It's really painful to talk about expectations that weren't met or to work up the courage to admit that you don't feel ready for something and to ask to talk through it together. But the alternative is becoming a person who never upsets anyone else or never gets upset themselves. More and more I feel like the only way to really build a deeper marriage is to have as many authentic conversations and moments as possible - discomfort and all.