You might think it’s a strange title, but in reality- all you want is to get your marriage do-able. You love your spouse, they love you- but the fighting might be unbearable, for others it’s the silence. I put together a few steps that can help START the process of going from…
To something that resembles THIS:
- Start off stating concerns and arguments gently.
What does that mean exactly, right? Well, it means that if you are feeling angry, frustrated, or rejected by the fact that hubby did not help you with the kids then instead of this…
You say… “Hey, hunny, do you have a few minutes to talk?… Great, I was feeling hurt earlier because I was taking care of the kids all day long, and when you came home I was hoping to get a break. “
So, take notes, ladies and gentlemen. The first step here is asking for some time, and making sure that it is a GOOD time. Not a time when someone is leaving, arriving, cleaning, or putting the kids to bed. If your spouse says, “Now isn’t a good time,” trust them. Ask them if you can talk in a few hours or at a certain time. Next note, I WAS FEELING..
Not, “You don’t ever help me” or “you are never home” or “you don’t know what it’s like”.
Starting by stating how you feel is a much softer start, and helps keep an argument from escalating quickly. Also notice, that that phrase has no you in it. The person is stating they were upset because they didn’t get the break they wanted… not that they were upset that their spouse did not give them a break.
As you can see, this kind of start to a conversation can help maintain cool, and allow a conversation to happen.
- On a scale of 1-10, stop at 5.
I want you all to remember Kanye at the Grammy’s. When he walked up on the stage and decided to insult Taylor Swift. Where was Kanye between 1-10. My guess is that he was not at a 5. My gut tells me that he had escalated to a 10+. Now, if Kanye had listened to a therapist (maybe he just ignored his… if he has one…#justsaying) he may have been able to notice that he was becoming angry, and implemented a relaxation exercise in order to maintain his cool, and stay in his chair.
This is a brief overview of the technique
- Your spouse is arguing with you.
- You feel yourself start to feel angry, hurt, sad, etc, etc.
- You notice that your heart starts to race (over 100bpm to be exact)
- You do what I am telling you- BREATHE IN THROUGH YOUR MOUTH, HOLD IT, BLOW VERY SLOWLY OUT through your mouth… aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh.
- Continue to talk, or ask your spouse to come back when you CAN maintain your cool.
3. AVOID CONTEMPT
Dr.’s Julie and John Gottman are probably the most brilliant couples therapists and researchers that exist (in my opinion, of course). They have found that 4 particular behaviors can be signs of divorce. They have coined these four behaviors as The 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse (they also clearly have a sense of humor). They are: Stonewalling, Criticism, Defensiveness, and Contempt. Of these 4, CONTEMPT is the behavior most associated with divorce.
Well, there are some great techniques to work with contempt and most heavily rely on a professional. Trust me, if your relationship has hit the point of contempt- a trained couples therapist who specializes in high conflict relationships is where I’d put my money- every time.
For the meantime, try to adhere to the simple rules of fighting fair: