Updated: Jan 31
Married couples often struggle to talk so their spouse fully comprehends what they say.
Ever had that "pit" in your stomach when you knew there was something which needed to be talked out with your spouse but actually dreaded bringing up the subject?
You can almost hear their words before you even get to ideas out of your mouth, right?
Here are a few ways to soften the disagreement and become a more compassionate life-partner:
1 - Be honest in your message and gentle in your delivery when bringing up the problem.
It is not necessarily WHAT you say, but HOW you say it that counts. Of course, demeaning comments will inflame your spouse no matter how kind your voice sounds. A nice sentence uttered in a sarcastic fashion, will cut into the other persons heart.
"be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as Christ has also forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32)
Kindness, is the sweetness, that makes communication palatable
2 - Think how your husband/wife receives your message when you communicate your intended thoughts.
Be aware of how your words are being heard. Notice their expressions to see if what you are saying is what she is hearing. If needed, completely rephrase the idea you have in mind.
Watch carefully to notice a change in their posture or facial expression when you speak. If you see a change on their face that indicates a misunderstanding or they wrinkle their brow, showing confusion on their part, stop - ask what they are hearing If needed, softly, state your sentence another way so they pick up the message you want to convey.
You want to be sure your correct message is received, as you are wanting it to be heard.
3 - Organize your message so that you stay on the topic, especially when it is something you know will sting.
If you have something very important to share with your sweetie, you might write it our first. At the very least, make a few bullet points to stay on subject. It is a simple slide to get sidetracked and lose sight of your initial message.
4 - Tell your wife/husband in a kind fashion what you want their response to be when you are finished.
If you did something that crossed the line in your marriage, ask for forgiveness. Be up front and express your mistake and ask them for understanding.
If your spouse committed the wrong action or said the wrong words, let them know how much you love her or him and desire a strong marriage. Give your spouse a sincere hug that conveys your honest longing to reconnect with their heart.
Keep your heart and your body language positive if your spouse did something which bothered you.
5 - Speak in "I" sentences and not "you" as it puts the emphasis on how you are dealing with the issue rather than blaming the other person.
"I want to understand ...." Rather than "You don't understand my point!"
Another good way to diffuse the heat is to hear yourself, paying close attention to how often you are attempting to declare their side of the argument. When you tell them what they think, you overstep your capabilities and assume you can read their mind and heart. YOU CAN'T!
Instead, make clear statements about your feelings or ideas and ask them to reflect back to you what they believe is your point.
6 - Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire!
Yelling is something I tried early in our marriage to make my point. It was a learned expression which did nothing constructive, instead I alienated my wife from me.
When I discovered effective methods to tame my anger and thoughtfully express my ideas, we began to dramatically understand each other's point of view. It is alright to disagree with each other. The kind objective is to speak and listen to each other's heart, and intent. When you feel at odds after giving your side, perhaps ask for a rest from the discussion to reframe your thoughts.
Raising your voice creates tension instead of healing. Talking gently to present your side of a disagreement will accomplish greater love and understanding.
7 - Repeat the concept back to them as best you understand their point of view, using "I" statements to get your thoughts across.
Asking considerate probing questions develops courtesy for your spouse.
"If I am hearing your idea right, you are saying ...."
"So are you saying ..."
"Let me see if I understand correctly, your point is ..."
Only use “you” to understand your spouse, never to chase them into a corner. Be adult enough to take responsibility for the ultimate outcome of your discussion.
8 - Be loving as an alternative to wanting to win the argument.
How you handle each difficult situation can have a very positive outcome or it can create a degrading effect upon your relationship.
Love and mutual enjoyment should characterize your relationship. Life is so short, having exuberant joy in the marriage, relieves stress and enhances your intimacy.
9 -Do not avoid the issue.
Avoidance drives the hurt deeper. We have all had that "elephant" in the room and knew that there was an amount of emotional ice between us and our spouse. Trying to bury the problem is actually the worst way to handle it.
Take responsibility for your part of the issue and be the first one to create the healthy climate for resolution.
A bonus idea = Finish the conversation with a compliment about this person you
pledged your life with forever.
Mark Twain said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment."
What you say last, might stick with your wife/husband for a long time. Make that taste sweet in their mind!
There are exciting and fun activities for a husband and wife to engage themselves, rather than argue.
Ask any person over the age of forty and they will tell you that life moves too fast.
Discover wonderfully juicy and enticing activities which inject pleasure into your marriage instead of taking so much time to argue. Life has its own devious methods to deprive us of enjoyment if we allow it into our relationship.
Make your days count!
Quarreling benefits neither partner.
When a dispute arises, work through these steps listed above.
Always Expect The Best For Your Marriage - The Best Is Yet To Be!!!
Your Friend & Coach -- Jerry Stumpf
Sign up for our enriching newsletter here.
If you would be so kind, forward this article on to four or five of your friends, especially if this post hits home for you!