I attended my friend's wedding yesterday. It was held at a beautiful venue overlooking the Hudson, with an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline. Watching the young bride and groom taking their vows to love and care for each other brings me back to my wedding day, as I'm sure it did for many of the married couples in the audience. One woman told me that she and her husband would celebrate fifty-one years together in a few days. She said the secret to a happy marriage was to have a sense of humor. Of course, we'll have our ups and downs, but being able to laugh with each other helps us get through the tough times. I couldn't agree more.
I think that's true for all relationships. Unfortunately, we tend to take ourselves so seriously that we can't see the other person's point of view and close off much-needed dialogue. Disagreements occur when we misconstrue someone's words or actions without giving them the chance to explain their perception of events. Many arguments I've had with my husband started over the silliest of reasons (at least, that's what I think when I know I'm right.) Of course, trying to inject humor into the mix when feelings are hurt, or we're completely annoyed doesn't help. The laughing part comes when everyone has had a chance to cool off. Approaching each other with an open mind with the intent of listening without getting defensive will always be a work in progress.
Arguing, in a way, can open up an opportunity for better communication. It helps to take a moment to breathe and relax. Apologies should come from both people (wrong or right) to facilitate listening to each other's take on the issue or issues at hand. Our relationships with the people we grew up with greatly affect how we deal with our significant other. I catch myself, many times, sounding like my mom when she was fighting with my dad. When I recognize the pattern that triggers disagreements between my husband and me, I know I have to take a step back and take a hard look at what's really bothering me. We've learned to realize that our past experiences are making an appearance that has nothing to do with our immediate reality. Now it's easier to be self-deprecating, have a good laugh, and clear the air.
Growing up, my siblings and I were quite brutal with teasing each other. Of course, we find it hilarious, and no one takes offense. I've learned to be careful when I'm in social situations and meeting new people for the first time. I have a running commentary in my head that I know would crack up my brothers and sisters, yet I admit that other people would not find it so. I believe our experiences shape our ideas, but as we develop new connections, we need to grow and understand others on a different level.
Communication, which involves a lot of listening, is key to building solid relationships, and that goes for our family, friends, and co-workers. Being able to notice and find the lighter side of situations may help diffuse a potential disagreement. My wish for the newlyweds is that their relationship will grow with love, understanding, and a good dose of humor.