Five trusted ways to start talking again
Nothing can be more frustrating than a partner who never seems to listen. When you argue, the conversation just keeps spinning with no answers. In the end, each of you feel unaccomplished and exhausted.
In fact, Marriage and Family counselor Dr. John Gottman, claims that 69% of couples rarely solve their issues. Meaning the same disagreements are going nowhere.
Some of the most common issues are:
- Money issues (monthly bills, extra money)
- Cleaning the house (laundry, dishes)
- Intimate relations (time of day, feelings)
- Kinship group (mother-in-law, children)
Getting on board with these next steps can be challenging at first, but when you realize the rewards of having a good conversation with your partner it will be worth the argument.
- Agree to disagree – How important is it that you win the argument? Do you feel if you repeat yourself enough times, they will give up? Is that really the answer? We would lose our uniqueness if we agreed all the time. If your spouse likes watching football on television every Sunday, is it worth the push back on one of their favorite hobbies. Instead of getting frustrated, try offering a peace offering.
Maybe you could cook up some appetizers and excuse yourself for the game. Though you might disagree with their “wasted time,” give them the respect of their individuality. Agree to disagree. As 18th– century leader, John Wesley wrote about his nemesis George Whitefield at his eulogy in 1770, “If you agree with me, well; if not, we can, as Mr. Whitefield used to say, agree to disagree.
- Talk less, listen more—After an argument, do you find you cannot remember what the initial argument was about, causing further anxiety? Were you actively listening to your partners side? If not, then perhaps it is time to rethink your strategy.
Allow your partner to state their side without pause. Do not interrupt. This provides trust with your spouse as they feel heard. Before you answer, give yourself enough time to process all the information. Instead of “I hear you, but…,” try “I hear you, and I am doing my best to understand your point of view. I would like us to resolve this.”
- State your view, then wait – Repeating your words over and over will often fall on deaf ears. Give your partner the space to sort through the statement. If your boss were hanging on your shoulder while you worked, and kept asking, “When will you be done?”, likely you would lose your temper and run out. Do not be your partner’s boss. Give both of you the respect of waiting for their answer.
- Put away the “darts” – No one likes to be attacked verbally. Cruel words can often have more impact on us then we realize. Family therapist Bruce Linton of Berkeley, California claimed that, “many people to take to heart the old saying, ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me’…”
But names can be very injurious, especially when said by someone we love.” Instead of claiming your partner is lazy, try using words like, “I noticed you seem to be resting more often, are you feeling ok? Perhaps you help me with the dishes?”
- Stop the blame game – When we lay all the guilt on one person, the other loses site of the resolution. Placing labels on each other only brings more resentment with each other, accomplishing nothing. Instead of saying, “I am always running late, because you leave the tank on empty all the time.” Try, “Would it make it easier for the both of us if we take turns filing up the gas tank?” That is a resolution anyone can get behind.
By giving your relationship the effort, it deserves; you can accept that you have done well for the day. Remind yourself why it is important to you. Remind your partner why they are important too.
As renowned English schoolmaster Arthur Forman so eloquently put it, “Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts the way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people.”