Before I got married, I didn’t handle conflict that well. I loved to keep everything on an even keel, and even pretend like it was when it wasn’t. I also didn’t handle confrontation very well. I had a tendency to cry a lot when I was called out on my faults, and bringing up issues with someone else was almost like pulling teeth. Uncomfortable and not gonna happen.
Evan and I used to have to sit in silence for long periods of time until I would really open up to him. I always felt scared. Scared that whatever was going to come out of my mouth would scare him away, that I wasn’t worth his time, that whatever I had to say really was not that important. But he would sit with me until I could muster my courage. I would stumble over my words, cry, and squirm. But he never budged. I didn’t scare him away.
I learned a lot about patience when we were going through those stages of our relationship; learning about each other, our struggles, our fears, and sitting it out, waiting on the other to speak. Taking on each other’s burdens. Seeing whatever conflict arose, and rising above it together.
Conflicts still come. We still get in little tiffs that seem silly. Exercising patience and letting the other speak, though, has gotten more difficult. Sometimes I get too mouthy and say something when I should be listening. Sometimes we talk around and around in circles rather than step back from whatever the issue is. Sometimes things just can’t be on an even keel.
“The struggle is real” is the best way to look at it, I think. The struggle in marriage is real, and I think we should let it be. As long as we’re struggling in the right direction. Conflict happens, and I think we should welcome the chance to learn from it. To struggle in marriage is to learn in marriage, and if this relationship has taught me anything, it’s that we’ve got to keep moving forward. Staying still, in the same place, only staring at each other in silence beckons more silence. He needs my voice just as I need his.
We don’t let the conflict define us. We don’t let the conflict hinder us. We take it in stride and let it make us stronger, making our bond with God real and fathomable. Greater than the conflict. Stronger because of it.