Loaded Words

I read a post the other day on Thought Catalog about tips for a happy marriage. An article like that is an oddity on Thought Catalog since it’s usually just 20-somethings complaining or advising other 20-somethings about life. So of course I had to read it. One of the points the author made was about loaded statements and how they can become a real issue in a marriage.

It’s true that loaded statements can be a problem in a relationship. The thing is, a couple becomes so familiar with each other that everything one says can be viewed as an attack on the other. Every statement carries weight to it, even when it shouldn’t. The thing is, the phenomenon isn’t exclusive to couples, it can also happen with family and friends.

I started to see this between me and my sister a few days after graduation. Every time I said something, she would interpret it negatively and thus respond negatively. In turn, I would get offended by her response and give my own sassy response. This would then lead to a full on argument where we’d avoid each other or be mean to each other over one dumb initial comment. (This also makes me think of the “two-reaction rule”.)

This kind of thing happens all the time and I sometimes wonder about how it wears on the relationship. Couples who had been married longer than I’ve been alive have fought through it but I just wonder how. It’s so exhausting to enter a conversation and not know if what you say will be taken correctly. I’m overstating it for sure but I still think it’s a tough issue. It’s one that I don’t know how to solve.

These are the moments that make me want to retreat. I think that’s a rational response, but I don’t know how good it is. Because, let’s be honest, people aren’t rational, they’re emotional. Of course they’re rational in the most basic sense but I can count the times I’ve ever been in a rational argument with someone. Somehow relationships are supposed to be a healthy mix of both reason and emotion. As a friend of mine would say, it’s a tension. It’s the tension that’s been woven throughout all of humanity by God. It’s the tension we see from Genesis through Revelation. It’s the tension that Jesus deals with in his conversations with the Pharisees.

I guess if he could navigate through loaded statements, so can we.

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