Very seldom do we listen to understand. Many arguments would never happen if we would:
- First understand someone has to speak and someone has to listen. You can only do one at a time – speak or listen.
- Decide who is going to listen and who is going to speak.
- When you get stuck slow down and use these steps.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19
- Stop and focus on the words, tone and body language.
- Listen to understand without the pressure of agreement.
- Repeat what we think we heard to the person speaking.
- Allow the speaker to confirm or correct your understanding
- Switch roles then repeat.
- When you both confirm that you understand each other then brainstorm solutions
Every couple has to get to understanding, but they may not get to agreement. Relax and listen with the goal to understand.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
The way to “show up” everyday for your marriage and make it thrive, not just survive is by doing small things every day to show you care. Adopt the motto “small things often.” Each day look for small ways to engage and respond to your spouse. Look for simple ways to acknowledge them, and show support. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Give them their first cup of coffee in the morning
- Greet them or say goodbye each day with a hug and kiss
- Do the dishes, or at least load or unload the dishwasher.
- Do their chores when you notice they are stressed or tired
- Leave small encouraging notes
Your small actions and behaviors will display love and increase intimacy. Small consistent displays of love and affection will help you build and maintain mutual respect and create a happy, healthy and successful relationship.
You must realize that marriage is not 50 / 50. If you think that you just meet in the middle and he wins or she wins bitterness and keeping score will set in. Marriage is 100 / 100. You must be willing to go all the way to their side not just meet in the middle. The best marriages understand that having the the heart of a servant is a key to happiness.
Philippians 2:4 MSG – Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
“You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Find Every and any excuse to celebrate the person you love. Stop the slow drift by finding ways to create enjoyment, excitement and connection. It is so easy to become stale in your relationship. Be intentional this weekend and create memories. Your love and future together is a sacred gift. Learn to celebrate it regularly.
It takes one person to forgive, it takes two people to be reunited – Lewis B. Smedes
Every couple argues. Research has even said that 70% to 80% of couple don’t solve their arguments. The goal is to create understanding. When a couple can create understanding it produces safety and vulnerability. Work at connection and communication will be much easier.
It is inevitable that couples will have disagreements and inadvertently cause each other pain. Every couples has to learn that it is not the conflict that matters it is how they repair. Empathy and compassion with a desire to understand can help a couple repair or maintain connection. Repairing your connection can potentially strengthen the relationship. The effort and process of working with your partner to repair the relationship will help build connection and confidence that will strengthen the relationship over time.
Read 6 Arguments Every Marriage Has to get more tools
We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all. Eleanor Roosevelt
Somehow we get lost. The busyness and stress of life distract us from what is important. We become critical consumers looking or demanding for someone to meet our needs. The interesting way that God made us is that true happiness is found giving to others. Our biggest challenge and responsibility is to serve and love our spouse.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10
Your spouse is your first neighbor. Everything about your faith and relationship with Christ is summed up in how well you love your spouse. Your biggest responsibility in marriage is to love your spouse, not to change them. You are to love your mate. Then allow God to change them, and in the process change you. The interesting and amazing thing is when you allow God to change you, somehow He changes your spouse also.
Holding hands is so simple but profound. The attention and affection that you show by holding each others hand brings feelings of security and attachment. Research has shown that holding hands can reduce stress hormones in the brain. Holding your partner’s hand when they are experiencing stress can help them feel calm. Holding hands with the one you love is relaxing and can even lower the intensity of a fight.
There is connection and importance in the simple act of physical touch and holding hands. When you intentionally reach for the one you love, it gives them attention, affection and approval. Take the time to relax and hold hands often.
The work of marriage is compromise and connection. No one is immune to this and it will last the life of the marriage. This is the wonderful and difficult struggle that every marriage goes through, it is normal. You can create a happy, fulfilling marriage by working and creating connection and reducing conflict. The research of Dr John Gottman has identified three things that will create connection in marriage. Here are some quick comments about the three areas, but go to the links to read a more detailed description.
“We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.” Oliver Wendell Homes
Every couple needs to play. This is how many couples connect. I know this may sound superficial, but when you begin to struggle with conflict or communication, take the time to create the soil that will bring change by playing and connecting first. Before you go to the table to talk, go to the sofa and play first. You have to play many problems away before you try to talk them through. Many conflicts will shrink if you take the time to connect and play.
Over the years my wife and I have learned that when we seem to misunderstand each other and start to struggle it is because we have stopped playing. Life and stress pulls us apart, the results are that we struggle with differences that in the long run just don’t matter.
The core of connection is built around shared experiences where you laugh, play, encourage, affirm and non-sexually touch. Here are several related posts – 3 Ways to Help Grow the Emotional Bond in Marriage; 10 Things That Can Change Your Marriage This Year
Express interest, empathy and concern about what is happening in your partner’s world. Everyday we consciously and unconsciously respond, or fail to respond, to our partners request for connection. These requests can be as simple as asking, “How was your day?” Learn to ask questions that show you are interested in their day-to-day life. The sad thing is we fail to respond to their question or attempts to connect. Over time if you fail to respond or show interest it can create serious damage to the relationship. Real connection is possible when you ask open-ended questions about your partner’s internal world of thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears.