Stop Having the Same Argument Over and Over with your Spouse

Do you have the same argument with your spouse over and over?  Can you recite their response even before you begin?  Are you losing interest in even having conversations with them?  This can be the beginning of no communication cumulating in an unhappy marriage or divorce.

There is a better way.  It can change.  By listening, looking and repeating before responding, you allow them to feel heard.  This in turn allows you to more fully understand their point of view.   When you understand them, your response is different which translates to more understanding from your partner to your point of view and increased understanding before they respond.   The cycle becomes a more positive type of ongoing communication.

Listen.  When your partner is speaking, listen intently to them resisting the urge to rehearse a response.  Listen for repeated words, phrases, or emotions; this will give you a clue as to what is really important to them.  Voice inflection can also identify the real issue or at least the most passionate issue.  Ironically it is usually the last thing a person states that is the most significant, not the first.  If you are spending your time thinking about your response to the first thing they said, you will miss the major issue of the discussion.

Look.  Body language, the time of day, the location of the discussion, and the emotional reaction all provide information as to the type of feedback desired.  For instance, if your spouse confronts you with their hands on their hips, with an angry face yelling, at the end of a long day while you are walking in the door, they are not interested in positive feedback.  Instead they are more interested in getting the upper hand.  If instead your spouse sets a time and place with you in advance and greets you warmly with a pleasant smile, they are looking for a mutual agreement instead of the upper hand.  Turn around is fair play, so if you want to be treated kindly, then you should do the same.

Repeat.  Before you respond, repeat what you have learned from listening and observing, not just the words stated but the emotions as well.  Repeating what you have learned gives your spouse the chance to correct any misunderstandings before you respond.  If you respond before clarifying, then you may be responding to the wrong issue and make the situation worse.  Feeling loved is about knowing that your spouse truly listens and understands, so take the time to complete this step before moving on to the next one.

Respond.  Only after you have listened, looked and repeated what your spouse has expressed should you respond to what they are saying.  Resist the urge to cram everything you have been thinking into a short time period.  Instead, select one issue and respond to it allowing time for your spouse to respond.  Resolving one issue at a time actually saves time rather than downloading a bunch of things all at once which can be overwhelming.  Once an issue is resolved, take a break rather than moving on to the next topic, this allows both of you to absorb the conversation and reflect.

Communication is difficult but you can learn to communicate effectively.  Not everyone communicates the same way so understanding your spouse’s personality is an important element.  But if you use the listen, look, repeat, and respond method, it will go a long way to helping increase positive communication.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Fight Fair and Win an Argument

Have you ever had a fight with your computer?  Everything is going fine one minute and the next thing you know the computer begins to act up.  It starts with one program and then leads to another.  You fight back by shutting down the dysfunctional program and trying to control or anticipate the next problem.  It retaliates back by doing something new and unexpected and before you realize what is happening you are doing battle with an inanimate object and sadly it is winning.

If fighting with an inanimate object is frustrating, try fighting with a human.  You begin on one topic and before you know it you are on another topic that has nothing to do with the original topic and you can’t even remember why you were fighting in the first place.  Talk about unpredictable and frustrating.  However, it does not have to be this way.  There is a better way to fight if you think of it in terms of how you handle your computer properly.

Pay attention to the problem at hand.  Just because your computer is acting up does not mean that the entire computer is bad or that it must be replaced.  It just means that something is not working and it needs your attention.  Just as you look for the underlying issue with your computer troubles, so you should look for the underlying issue at the root of your fight.  If the underlying issue is fear, then address the fear; if the underlying issue is guilt or shame, then address the guilt or shame.  Focus your efforts on the one area that is not working instead of all of the other areas, just as you would focus on your computer problem and not your office problem, your relationship problem, your car problem, and any other problem that you may have.

Patience, patience, patience.  Banging on your computer or pressing multiple buttons at one time when your computer is acting up will not solve your issue but it will most likely add to your troubles.  When fighting, be patient with yourself and the other person just as you would be patient with your computer.  Getting angry at the computer for acting up will not stop it from acting up and getting angry with the person you are fighting with will not minimize the tension but add to it.  Just as having an “I’m in charge” attitude with your computer is unproductive so is having an “I’m in charge” attitude with the other person unproductive.  Even if they are in a subordinate role, forcing someone to comply will only aggravate the problem.

Press the restart button.  When all else fails, press the restart button on your fighting just as you would on your computer.  Instead of continuing to fight, choose to walk away and come back to the issue later when emotions have calmed down.  The key is to come back later to the issue; walking away and not addressing the issue is as unproductive as never turning on your computer again just because it did not work that one time.  It is even more important to come back to the person with an attitude of working out the issue and not with an attitude of “I’m right and you are wrong”.  If you went to your computer and said, “I’m right and you are wrong” do you think it would respond better?  No.  So if you treat an inanimate object with respect, how much more respect should you treat another human being.

You have a winning relationship with your computer when you learn to address the problems and not ignore the warning signs that something is wrong.  Your relationships are similar when you take the focus off of yourself and focus instead on meeting the needs of the other person.  Winning a fight is not about getting your way, it is about coming to a realization that we are all in this process of life together.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.