For my wife and I, our worst arguments have always come out of times where we were the most disconnected and stressed. I have found that I hear her differently when we are connected. I want to hear her advice and feelings more after we share experiences together. Being right is less important than enjoying our time together. Arguments will go much better if you work at sharing experiences and staying connected. Every couple argues, the key is to try and understand each other and stay connected. Below are some ways that will help you to understand each other and stay connected.
- The only thing you can control – This has to be the focus of your life. You can only control you and only you. Start and end every discussion with this awareness. Make the goal to change and control yourself not your spouse.
- Create the correct setting – Don’t try to discuss problems after 9:00 or 10:00 at night. You are tired, stressed and reactive. Men struggle with emotional expression. Many times men will fidget and communicate better while driving or talking on the phone because they can fidget and not have to give eye contact. Women need face-to-face communication. They can regulate their emotions better if they have eye contact. So women if you want a more meaningful communication, talk to him while going for a playful drive. Men if you want a more meaningful communication, talk face-to-face softly looking into her eyes.
- Mirror back – Before you give the monologue or reaction with what you are rehearsing in your head, calmly listen to them. Try to understand your spouse before you defend your point. Reflect or mirror back what you think you have heard so you can be assured that you understand them. You have to reach understanding before you will ever get to agreement.
- Listen actively – Try to connect to what they are feeling. Ask yourself the empathy question, “How would I feel if I were in their shoes?” They want your support and encouragement more than your quick advice.
- Don’t talk while using media – Don’t try to talk with cell phones, laptops or the TV going. I am amazed at how many fights or misunderstandings that are created because of the disrespect shown from the distraction of media. Pause put them down and talk.
- Connection produces good communication. We usually think that if we could just talk it out we would feel more connected. The opposite is true. Work on connection first and the communication will flow. Good communication is about trust. You have to feel so secure in the relationship that you are willing to believe your spouse over the noise (verbal thoughts or tapes in your head) of your past experiences.
- Before you even start addressing problems or complaints, ask yourself several questions:
- How important is it to be right? Can you let it go for the sake of your desire to feel emotionally connected with your partner?
- Are you interested to learn their perspective? Not just prove yours.
- Do you care how they feel right now? Be empathetic toward them.
- What do you love and value about your partner?
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.
What would you add to the list? Which tip do you struggle with?