So often, couples are open to learning about new ways they need to grow and change. However, when it comes to implementing those changes, their interest falls flat. In today’s #MarriageMonday, we’re exploring why that is and how to change it!

Mark: So many of us think that it’s information that will change us. If we just learn more, we’ll have the marriage we want. However, that’s not how it works.

Jill: The formula for change is Information + Application = Transformation. And today, we want to share with you about one aspect of change that is a crucial part of that application process. And that is: Be comfortable with awkward.

Mark: But that is so hard! In fact, it’s one of the biggest things that pushes married couples to avoid changing or pursuing healing. When something is new or different, it can feel really awkward, and that can play on our insecurity. But I’m sure you’ve heard it said: “If you keep doing the same things you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting the same results you’ve been getting.” That’s exactly right!

Jill: Exactly. That’s why we have to get comfortable with awkward. To avoid continually falling back into old ruts and patterns, we have to create a new normal. That’s what the ultimate goal is: To create a new normal. Whenever we first use different strategies, especially ones that don’t come naturally, it will feel very uncomfortable.

Mark: It can even feel awkward or embarrassing at times because it’s like we’re riding a bike with training wheels again. In fact, we hear this a lot when we teach couples how to have safe conversations, whether it’s in our seminars, No More Perfect Date Night, or our marriage coaching. People will often say, “This feels really awkward,” because we’re asking them to talk to their spouse in a way that’s very different than they ever have before.

Jill: I remember it felt that way for us! At the beginning, implementing safe conversations felt very stiff. I’d even go as far as saying it felt insincere because we were practicing this new skill. Going back to the bike analogy: When you’re first learning, you fall sometimes, you feel nervous, or you need help. But after some time passes, you’re jumping on to the bike without even thinking about it, and taking off!

Mark: It’s the same way in marriage. When we learn a new skill, we have to get through that awkward to create our new normal.

Jill: In our case, we had to learn to slow down our communication, really slow it down, and that initially felt awkward, foreign, and inefficient. Another thing we had to learn to do was stop trying to solve so many issues in one conversation, and instead resolve one issue in one conversation.

Mark: In the past, we would keep adding issues to the conversation that would just fuel the fire of frustration. It felt awkward initially to learn to walk away without every single thing addressed, but we’ve had to learn to change where our sense of “accomplishment” comes from. It’s no longer about how many things we can talk about; instead, it’s about sharing openly, using reflective listening, and responding kindly. I’m hearing you well, I’m letting you know that I’ve heard you well, and I’m going to walk away with a sense of accomplishment that I just affirmed you, heard you well, listened to your heart, and responded appropriately to it.

Jill: We were comfortable dumping everything on the table. We felt comfortable making this huge mess, where we both were frustrated, and ultimately got nowhere. That’s why we had to get comfortable with awkward to find a new, more effective, normal.

Mark: If we want to have transformation in our relationship and our marriage, we need to start with information. It’s important that we understand how we need to grow and change. However, we have to be willing to apply it in real time and in real life.

Jill: Remember: Information + Application = Transformation. Applying what we learn is necessary for us to make the changes that we know we need to make. In order to do that, you’ll need to take your information and apply it by learning to be comfortable with awkward. After all, you’ll need to push through awkward to find your new, more effective, normal.

What about you? How have you pushed through awkward to find a new normal in marriage? Let us know in the comments!

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