By Greg Vaughn
Rule 3: Look behind the words, so that you do not react to the wrong issue
It is easy for us to react to the word or tone used when in a fight. If your spouse rolls their eyes or says something in a tone you do like, it can be easy for you to focus on this instead of the real issues at hand. When one is upset, one does not always choose the appropriate words. Again it is easy to get side tracked on the words used and not the real issue.
This goes for the one who is expressing anger. Much of communication is not what we communicate, but how we communicate it. Tone, body language and expressions play an important part in what is received by the other person.
Rule 4: Ask for clarification and restate the issue.
There have been many fights started because I have misheard my wife or assumed something that was not true. Your spouse will appreciate you, if you simply ask what they said. For me, I have poor hearing in my left ear, so I tell my spouse, “I heard blank, Is that what you said?” This way I am also restating the conversation so that there is no mistake.
Another common mistake I used to make with my wife is assuming since we talked about something, we decided on it. For example, we often talk about our plans for the weekend. Yet when Saturday rolls around, I assume that what we had discussed is what we are doing. My wife will say that we had not decided, but only discussed it. One should never assume the intentions of your spouse. If you do not know of what has been decide, ask. When you restate things, try to be as specific as possible. It is amazing how many fights start because of little details.
If you aspire to see where the other person is coming from and seek to understand their point of view, then the both of you can come to a mutual agreement. You can accomplish this by two ways. They both involve active listening skills. They are asking for clarification, such as are you talking about (blank) or by asking “Is this what you are asking?” By asking for clarification or restating her quest you are making sure the two of you are on the same page. By understanding their point, you will go a long ways to diffusing a tense situation
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” Romans 12:9-21
This scripture commands us to be patient with each other. This means it may take a few times for each of you to see the other’s view. You may not agree but you will understand where they are coming from. You can then validate their experience; such as “I can see how you would come to that conclusion” This takes gentleness and kindness not to appear condescending.
Your spouse may have to take a few tries to get what they are saying, correct. One needs to look behind the words and not react to the wrong issue, if at first it does not come out right. You two can laugh about it later. It is good to too much communication as opposed to too little.
Rule 5: No absolutes or inflammatory words
When faced with a disagreement, the goal should not be to be right, but to be righteous in your opinion. The term for this is call called sore winner. You won the argument by browbeating your spouse into submission to get your point across. This will only lead to heartache and hardship. Using absolutes such as: “You always” “We never” and “You’re totally” is not only humiliating but it is also lying. For example, If you told your husband, “You never pick up your socks”, You are declaring that not once in your married life has he done that. This can make him feel like there is no pleasing you. It can be aggravating to the spouse, because they are being accused of not being good enough for you. It can be easy for some of us to assume the worst. Your spouse may say I would like it if you did the dishes more often. We must be patient and humble while they express this. You may be tempted to think “I do them all the time, they are ungrateful”. When in reality your spouse is asking you to wash off the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.
In our minds it may seem that your spouse never does what you ask, yet if you take a step back and look at it, there is always something to compliment them on or be encouraged about. They do the dishes maybe not as often as you like, and this is ok to bring up, but refrain from using the using the words “You always”,” We never” and “You’re totally” This will only serve to antagonize your spouse.
If you are the spouse doing the asking, adding kindness to your request will go along way. For the example above you may say “Sweetie, I appreciate when you the dishes, it makes me feel that you take care of things, In that spirit, can you rinse off the plates before you put them in the dishwasher”. Please be patient with them as they might not get it right the first time.