As we’ve mentioned in previous posts we facilitate a marriage small group for 8 weeks called Thrive. The chapter we reviewed last night is called Communication & Conflict (Chapter 6 for Thrive Graduates.) Even though we’ve led this curriculum 10 times now, we still underline many great points in this chapter. Here are just a few:
- “The key to good communication is behaving intentionally. You and your spouse can keep the things your parents did well and abandon the things they didn’t. The problem under stress is we revert to what we know best.”
- This took us years of practice. Naturally Russ would be more of a tiger in arguments where I was more of a turtle, shut down and distant. It took a long time to learn how to take a pause and wait until we weren’t flooded.
- “…thinking that you need to fix the things in your spouse which are different from you.”
- I came out of the womb fixing people. It is part of my DNA! This character flaw was super great to have when I was in Corporate Sales for 20 years but not in relationships. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can listen to Russ and bite my tongue. After he’s done sharing an issue, I tell him I have 3 great ideas if he’s interested and with a smile on his face he politely says “Nope, I’m good.” haha For a spouse on the receiving end, this kind of fixing feels like they weren’t capable of taking care of the problem when they just were looking for someone to vent too. They have the problem managed…they don’t want to be managed by you. Lesson learned!
- “If you learn to talk about what you’re feeling when you’re not in conflict – when your spouse feels that you have his or her best interest at heart – your words will go deeper.”
- Russ and I approach each other with using “I” vs “You” statements. If Russ has hurt me, I don’t say, “You embarassed me when blah blah blah.” Instead I say, I was embarrassed because I felt alone and you know how difficult it can be when I’m not involved in the conversation blah blah blah.” Russ is then less defensive and more compassionate to my hurt.
- “Tara, you know I love you. You are the most important person in the world to me. I don’t want to bring this up, but I have to. I know you’ve been going through a lot lately, whatever it is I’ll face it with you.”
- How awesome is this approach? It is called a ‘softened start-up.’ If you can preface any hard discussion with this kind of statement, chances are you’ll have a much better result with your spouse. Russ says being blindsided with hard discussions throws him off but when I use softened start-ups something clicks in him to prepare and not lash out. Try it and let us know how it works before your next hard conversation.
- “Conflict in marriage is inevitable. In successful marriages, couples don’t avoid or eliminate conflict, they learn to navigate it in a way that leads to greater intimacy rather than isolation.”
- There is a stigma that if we’re married we shouldn’t have conflict or go to counseling. We must not love each other deep enough. This stigma is keeping couples paralyzed and forced to deal on their own with their issues. We find it time and time again in leading these Thrive groups that every couple has issues, every couple is arguing.
- “Couples that learn how to face issues and turn toward each other experience deeper, more satisfying marriages. They don’t stop having conflicts, but the destructive power of their problems is minimized.”
- Successful marriages are not absent of conflict. Instead they know how to repair and recover after an argument.
“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” – Proverbs 12:16
Were you taught how to work through conflict? Do you have the tools? Comment below on how you manage conflict. We can all learn from each other!