Welcome When we think of the word “combative,” we envision someone ready for a fight or portraying antagonistic behaviors. Well, my husband gave me some combative words recently, but it’s probably not what you’re thinking! He wasn’t trying to pick a fight with me. I can honestly say he just doesn’t do that kind of thing! His combative words were fighting words all right, but they were said with the intention to help me fight a battle. Here’s the explanation.
Food For Thought My husband and I are coming up on our 14th anniversary. We have certainly learned a lot about one another, including how to handle each other’s struggles and difficulties. My husband keeps a lot of his trials to himself, so I now know that just because he’s not outwardly portraying his emotions, it doesn’t mean he’s not wrestling with some issues. But I also know I have to approach with caution or he’ll shut down altogether. On the other hand, I am pretty vocal and expressive with my emotions, while at home. When we were first together, if my husband didn’t know how to fix my problem or what to say to help, he just did nothing. Sometimes that’s a fine approach, but other times I just wanted to scream, “Say something!” At least recognition of a problem indicated he was listening. Over time he has learned how to respond in different situations, to at least let me know that he’s listening and he cares, even if he can’t make the problem go away.
The improvement in our communication with one another has a lot to do with an increase in communication. It sounds simple, I know, but we cannot communicate how the other person needs us to, if we aren’t communicating much to begin with. I’m not talking about daily chit-chat or the run down of this week’s to-do’s. I’m talking about the vulnerable conversations where we state, clearly and honestly, what are weaknesses and struggles are, and that we need and want help. Then we begin to become aware of how we need and want to be communicated with from our spouse.
Between the two of us, I absolutely have the stronger personality, therefore I always assumed that I needed to be the one using more direct communication tactics. It turns out, and it took awhile to recognize this, that I need my husband to be more direct, even blunt, when communicating with me. When a vacation is not in the budget, he has to look at me and say, “No, not this year.” I may not like it, but if he’s not direct I will continue to push and even manipulate conversations and behaviors to try to get my way! When I was struggling with the decision on whether or not to continue this blog and my writing goals, I didn’t want him to say, “It’s up to you.” I needed him to give his true and honest opinion, from his point of view, so I’d know where I stand. He had to look at me directly and say, “I want you to keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t stop.” Those direct words gave me so much freedom! When he said it was what he wanted, I was able to stop worrying about disappointing him with my current life choice. After all, our choices affect both of us, and our whole household.
Other times I need his direct communication to help me fight some battles. I’m not talking about having him fight my battles for me, like with my former employer or with those who have hurt my feelings or left me broken-hearted. I’m talking about my personal battles that I can’t seem to fight alone. Personal battles like depression, anxiety, comparison, envy, discontent, and perfectionism. Remember when I said the first step to improvement was communication? Well, before my husband could help me fight these struggles, he first had to know they were a problem in my life in the first place. When we were first together, I tried so hard to hide my depression from him. In my 20’s, I viewed my mental health struggle as a weakness that made me a less desirable, less likable, less able person. I’ve learned and grown a lot since then, and my husband helps support me in these areas in as many ways as he can. But I also have to get his support when I’m fighting weak areas in my spiritual life.
In the past I had casually mentioned that I have difficulty with comparison and jealousy, which he was already aware of simply by watching and listening to me scroll through social media posts. A couple months ago I decided to participate in the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies group for the book Why Her? by Nicki Koziarz. This book, which I just finished last night, looks at the struggle so many women have with comparison and discontent, because we see what “she” has and want it desperately or wonder why she gets to have it and we do not. In the process, we’ve also studied the story of Rachel and Leah in the book of Genesis, and how their endless comparisons led to sadness and turmoil. When I started the study, I talked to my husband about how I struggle so greatly in this area, how it’s robbing me of joy, and hindering my spiritual walk. I told my husband I needed to study and focus on improving this area of my life, but I needed some help with accountability. Well, it didn’t take long for my husband to have a chance to use his combative words, meaning words to help me fight my battle. First, we had some information about someone on a similar writing path as I am and I became bogged down in comparison, questioning their successes and my failures. My husband helped me fight, reminding me of the successes I’ve had, but more importantly I am not her! He reminded me that not only am I not her, I’m not meant to be her and she’s not meant to be me, and we are, in fact, on two very different paths. He was honest in saying he couldn’t explain why one of us would find success quicker than the other, but it doesn’t mean I won’t be successful. Then, over the weekend I was describing everyone’s vacation plans and mother’s day celebrations and exciting news posts, undoubtedly with longing in my voice. He looked right at me and said, “You’re comparing again, stop it!” Yikes, direct and blunt, and very much needed! I didn’t get mad at his shortness, though. I was very much appreciative, because he drew attention to the fact that I was participating in a thought pattern that I want to desperately get rid of.
So, ladies, I hope you have someone to help you fight your battles. And it all starts with communication. Let him know what battles you need help fighting, as he may or may not know. Be direct and vulnerable, you are in this together. Let him use his fighting words, they may be just what you need to hear!
Today’s Prayer My Dear Heavenly Father, I want to offer my praise and gratitude for my husband, whom I feel You chose especially for me, as we were brought together through answered prayers and unusual circumstances. God, I believe You have always known we needed each other. Thank You for the honest and loving relationship we have with one another. I pray that we continue to grow closer to each other, and closer to You on our marriage journey. I thank You for the almost-fourteen-years I have been able to proudly say I am his wife, and I pray You bless us with many more years to come. Lord, I ask that You help us to know the words to speak to each other in times of struggle or weakness and that we always offer each another support and unconditional love. For all of those who read this message today, I pray for their marriages and relationships, that they may be blessed with strong, beneficial communication throughout their time together. I pray these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today’s Recipes It’s Two For Tuesday! I cannot believe that we are only half-way through May, and we’ve already had two weeks of temperatures in the upper 80’s and low 90’s. This is following a snowy April! As we are approaching the summer, if we haven’t already arrived, I thought I’d give two very simple and healthy recipes for some cool treats to combat the heat!
Sugar-Free Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (serves 4-5)
In a large blender, add 5 cups frozen whole strawberries (without sugar), 12 ounces sugar-free strawberry yogurt, and 3 tablespoons milk. Pulse on high for several minutes until strawberries begin to break up, then puree to get desired frozen yogurt texture. Serve immediately.
A few notes about the frozen yogurt: Be patient-it takes a few minutes to get the whole strawberries to break down, but whole strawberries work better than sliced to get the right texture and are easier to find unsweetened. We like the frozen yogurt as is, but some may find this blend too tart. If that’s the case, add a few packets of artificial sweetener, such as Splenda. Finally, feel free to mix up your flavor options. This works equally well with frozen peaches and peach yogurt or frozen mixed berries with blueberry yogurt, and so on.
Low-Fat Nutella “Ice Cream” Bars (makes 8 standard-size popsicles)
In large bowl, whisk together 2 cups fat-free Cool Whip, 6 tablespoons Nutella hazelnut spread, and 1 cup skim milk, until ingredients are completely combined. Pour mixture into standard popsicle holders or into paper cups, adding popsicle sticks as needed. Place in freezer for 6 hours.
A few notes about the Nutella ice cream bars: Use real Nutella spread if you want to keep the fat content low and the ingredients more wholesome. I’ve compared labels between the actual brand, and other cheaper versions of cocoa hazelnut spread. While a little more expensive, Nutella offers a shorter “real foods” ingredients list, making the better nutrition choice. Second, be sure to fill the popsicle molds, as this is a softer texture than an actual popsicle and your sticks need plenty to “cling” to. Finally, because of the softer texture, these take longer to set than popsicles, but even if you’re in a hurry, place some in freezer-safe bowls, freeze for 2-3 hours, and enjoy as a “soft-serve” treat. So yummy!