Have you ever been involved in a discussion with your spouse and it goes badly? It goes in a direction that you never intended?
“Why is it that differences of opinion between a husband and wife so often lead to arguments and a breakdown in communication? Usually the differences are not life and death matters. They aren’t even right and wrong matters. They’re just different ways of seeing things or handling a situation. At such times the couple’s communication skills are tested.” (Dr Ed Wheat)
When a Discussion Breaks Down
Do you have discussion “breakdowns” in your marriage where you and your spouse have a difficult time seeing things the same way? If so, please prayerfully read the following insights, which come from Dr Ed Wheat’s book, First Years of Forever (published by Zondervan). And then apply the info you can use. (Reading the book will help you beyond that.)
One of the things Dr. Wheat says is:
“When a disagreement occurs, it’s important to defuse its explosive potential by reducing what’s at stake. When your attitude changes from win/loss, I’m right/you’re wrong position to a ‘Let’s talk this over, but it doesn’t affect our love and respect for one another’ perspective, you’ve won the real battle.”
So, what do you do when a disagreement goes in an explosive direction? You definitely want to defuse it as soon as possible. Dr. Wheat goes on to reveal some of the ways to do just that:
When a disagreement occurs, it’s important to defuse its explosive potential by reducing what’s at stake. When your attitude changes from win/loss, I’m right/you’re wrong position to a “Let’s talk this over, but it doesn’t affect our love and respect for one another” perspective, you’ve won the real battle. Here are some principles to follow:
EIGHT WAYS TO REPLACE ARGUMENTS WITH COMMUNICATION
• Response, Not Reaction:
Don’t interrupt. Listen carefully before you respond. Don’t react. Respond. Keep the discussion squarely on the issue at hand. You need to agree, long before disagreements arise, that you will limit any discussion to the present, leaving the past out of it, and limit the discussion to the one issue, refusing to allow side issues to enter in.
• Disagreement, Not Disapproval:
Acknowledge that you understand what your partner is saying, even though you disagree. Show him or her respect. Don’t let your disagreement of this issue sound like disapproval of your partner.
• The Gift of Empathy:
Make it a point to share your feelings, but not in such a way that your partner feels criticized. Encourage your partner to share feelings and respond to them lovingly. Give him or her, the gift of sympathy and empathy. This is one way to teach each other to give what you both are longing for.
• Carefully Clarify:
Carefully clarify what you’re both saying so there can be no misunderstanding. Take turns doing this, with no interruptions.
• Truthing in Love:
Speak the truth in love. The original expression in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:15) is literally truthing in love — maintaining truth in love, both with your speech and with your behavior. Honesty and love are needed, so speak the truth but speak it gently.
• Say “I Need You”:
Be willing to show your vulnerable, needy side to your partner [if you aren’t in an abusive marriage]. Don’t be afraid to say “I need you.” Real communication means revealing yourself even at the risk of rejection. When both are willing to do this, you are well on your way to building loving intimacy in your relationship.
• Surprise and Disarm:
Stop being defensive when the issue is a personal one. Surprise and disarm your partner by agreeing there is wrong on your side, since there always is (even if you don’t wish to admit it). Be specific. “I was wrong” can stop a fight and demonstrate to your partner how to admit wrong, too.
• Apply the B-E-S-T:
Apply the B-E-S-T principles in your communication. As you talk with each other, Bless with your words; Edify (or build up) your partner by what you say and by your interest in what your partner has to say; Share openly and honestly; and Touch affectionately while you talk. Bless, edify, share, and touch —communicate the BEST to your mate.
You can reduce tensions by recognizing and correcting the communication practices that cause frustration and by learning to fight the biblical way —a way that deals constructively with anger, resentment, and hurt feelings.
We hope and pray the above thoughts will help and bless your marriage.
And if you are new in your marriage (within the first 5 years or even beyond) you might consider obtaining this excellent book that Dr Ed Wheat wrote for newlyweds. It could help you to build a good strong base for the future of your marriage.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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