Just over a month ago I sent out a survey asking people what their biggest question was about communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy. There were several answers that I’ll be addressing over the next couple of months, but overwhelmingly the biggest question was, “How do I tell my spouse something difficult without either making them angry or hurting their feelings?” It’s interesting that such a broad question could be asked and 1/4th of the people would answer with nearly the same words. It goes to show you just how often marriages are affected by this very concern.
Most of us do what we can to avoid conflict in our marriage. Nobody likes the idea of being at odds with the person they share a bed with. But because of our gender differences, personality differences, or differences in our behaviors or core beliefs; conflict is an inevitable part of marriage. Luckily, you can learn some ways to have hard conversations that will not necessarily lead to conflict. And, when it’s avoidable, not fighting will always win out over having an argument.
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Modernity - A Confidence Development Agency by Tamisha Ford
July 31, 2016
I’ve noted before how tough the first year of marriage was for me and Jacob, because we just seemed to fight constantly. I don’t mean any knock-down drag out fights by the way. There was no physical abuse or verbal abuse. Nobody threw anything at one another or threatened to move out. But, there was an undercurrent of disagreement and discontent that permeated our married existence. That first year was TOUGH!
In hindsight, we really brought most of it and maybe all of it on ourselves. I can certainly say without hesitancy that I was a difficult woman to live with and the proverbial “decay in his bones.”
I know I’m not the only one who has had a time of discontent in marriage. In fact, since I work with couples, I can say that conflict in marriage is an all too common occurrence. The good new is that you really can protect your marriage from heavy conflict. So, if you’ve been getting closer to the “we fight all the time” mark, read on to discover why that happens and how NOT to let it happen to you.
Why couples fight:
While there can be many “reasons” for conflict in marriage, there is an overwhelming “umbrella” reason for the conflict – expectations.
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**Warning, this is NOT a political post**
Okay, maybe I would actually need a warning if it was a political post. I’m actually just using a political example as a starting point…
I watched a video last night where supporters of a particular candidate were read statements that they thought he had said (Hitler actually said them) and the supporters rallied behind these statements. Now I know how the media works here. Good video footage means showing the handful of people that look foolish because the video is more likely to go viral. This one did not disappoint.
In the video, the interviewer tells a guy that the statements are actually from Hitler and asks the guy if he still supports the statements. The guy responds, “I don’t support Hitler. But if Trump said it then I support the statements.”
The video is really supposed to point out how people blindly follow some of the candidates without using critical thinking to determine who should get their vote. But, the reality is that there is something about the human condition that causes us to rally behind some people and not others; to see tons of positive characteristics when others see none, or the opposite, to see all the bad and not the good.
Ever heard of the halo effect?
The halo effect is a psychological principle that says we are likely to see someone as all good or all bad. We have a hard time seeing that a person can have both good and bad characteristics. This concept was discovered by Thorndike back in the 20’s when he saw correlations between a soldier’s physique and intelligence when rated by others. If the soldier looked more fit, he was also observed by others to be smarter. In psychological research, there are several studies to show that we believe things about someone’s character based on the outer appearance of the person.
And how does this tie into marriage?
Even in marriage we can get wrapped up in the halo effect. In fact, prior to getting married many couples have a hard time seeing the “bad” characteristics or qualities in their soon to be spouse. They really believe that their marriage will not be as hard as others they’ve seen, they won’t disagree as often as other couples, they’ll not go through times when they feel distant from one another…
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I was asked a couple of weeks ago to spend some time focusing on anger. In fact, angry feelings have been a recurring theme with the people that I work with for quite a while. I work primarily with couples and I’ve seen more than one person straight up walk out of session or yell so loudly people in surrounding offices were concerned, and I’ve had several eye-witness accounts of spouse’s name-calling, cursing, and getting red in the face trying to explain an injustice done to them.
If you’ve noticed my picture you know that I’m “about a buck ten” as my daddy would say. My small size is one reason that my office neighbors grow concerned when they hear loud voices coming from my office. And, I admit, I sometimes get a little concerned too. Anger is dangerous. People get hurt. Sometimes physically, almost always emotionally.
Experts say that anger is a secondary emotion because when a person gets angry, there is an underlying emotion present.
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