Our responses to this week’s marriage chat hosted by blackandmarriedwithkids.com.
How should spouses address disagreements?
Spouses need to give each other the time and space to be heard and to process what the other is saying. This can’t happen when there is yelling or if one is always talking over the other. Poor non-verbal communication may also a negative effect. It’s amazing how much subtle and not-so-subtle body language can skew a conversation.
If you and your spouse have trouble giving each other the opportunity to be heard, try setting some ground rules. If yelling is an issue, make a deal that you’ll take a break if emotions get too strong and return to the conversation when you’ve each had a chance to calm down. Take turns talking for a set amount of time uninterrupted. If rolling of the eyes, or other non-verbal communication, gets in the way, go for a walk or a drive to make it less likely that you’ll get distracted by each other’s expressions.
Should spouses make a plan for how to come to an agreement after an argument?
Having a plan for how to reach an agreement is nice in theory, but once emotions are added, the plan can quickly go out the window. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to solving marital disagreements. Different phases in the relationship and different problems will require you to learn and use different skills. If spouses hold on too tightly to a specific plan, there may be times when it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s better to have communication and conflict resolution skills that will lend themselves to a variety of situations. Marital mediation is one way that spouses can learn those skills.
Is the saying “never go to bed angry” doable? Why or Why Not?
Yes, it’s possible to not go to bed angry, but that doesn’t mean the issue is resolved. “Less angry” is a pretty good standard to aim for. Sometimes you have to recognize that you’ve done all you can for one night. If you’re not getting anywhere in the discussion, the disagreement won’t get easier to resolve as you get tired and cranky. A little space to reflect can make things look different in the morning.
What is your best advice for handling anger & disagreements in your marriage?
Forgetting about “winning” the argument. Nobody wins when spouses fight. Ask yourself if this fight is worth ending your marriage over. If it’s not, then the only thing that matter is compromise. Do your best to keep things in perspective. It’s not the first disagreement you’ve had with your spouse, but it could be the last if you let it go too far. And never forget the power of saying “I’m sorry”
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