Why do almost all marriages with time face challenges and conflicts? Why do more and more couples ask for advice to fix marriage? One of the reasons is that everyone has a set of unconscious expectations and assumptions regarding their relations with their partners.
They are being formed gradually…and it is the family where we have grown that influences them. Mostly then and there our emotional problems arise. Not having possibilities to resolve them, we try to push them deep inside. But those expectations and problems tend to emerge in similar situations and, being unconscious, may severely damage our life – since people are frustrated when they don’t get what they want…even when it’s not clear to them what exactly they want.
One more common mistake is not expressing one’s quite conscious desires in a clear form, at the same time assuming their partner will guess about them on their own…that almost never happens. When our frustration reaches its critical point, those desires spill out in an aggressive, attacking form which doesn’t help in satisfying them.
What does help is honest self-analysis and recognizing by each partner of their wants and needs related to their marriage. Each partner should learn to express clearly and openly, but in the way it doesn’t provoke defense reaction in the other half. Because one of the greatest paradoxes of human behavior is that people can and want to change only then, when they feel they are accepted as they are!
The Art Of Proper Argumentation
One of the most decisive factors of happy relationship is the way you are arguing with one another. The main point here is where your arguments lead to – to conflict escalation or to its resolution, or at least to its alleviation. It’s hard to properly argue…but it is possible.
After all, everyone is somehow able to discuss issues with their colleagues at work or their neighbors. It turns out that the problem is not the lack of communication skills but the atmosphere of negativity, penetrating family where the slightest disagreement may turn into a big scandal.
A marriage conflict can be resolved successfully and fruitfully if spouses concentrate their attention not on the essence of the matter arising, but rather on their emotions related to that matter.
The idea behind is that in every spontaneously occurred conflict partners should try to defeat the habitual cycle of negativity related to any disagreements between spouses, and not to fritter away one’s energy over specific argument. This task can be accomplished by number of specific techniques.
Limit the time of argumentation.
First of all you have to make a deal to have no more than 15 minutes for any argumentation, with condition to come back for discussion later, if you missed your deadline. Don’t rely on your inner sense of timing – at moments of emotional excitement it lets us down – use instead timer or clock.
It is a specific weapon against emotional overflow – the most serious destroyer of a relationship. Try to restrain your first fit of temper and don’t criticize the personality (if you want to criticize, then do some concrete behavior…though it’s better to avoid doing it too). Here it’s also advised not to rely on feelings. Instead, rest upon objective physical characteristics, first of all your pulse rate. Take your pulse at the beginning of conversation and check it every 5 minutes. As soon as it rises more than 10% (additional 8 – 10 heartbeats per minute), take time-out for at least 20 minutes. And don’t spoil for a fight unless you have taken your pulse and are convinced it is normal – people often think they are calm already, though their blood boils. This technique seems weird and you probably never heard of it, but in practice it works good and there is a point in trying it at least.
The ability to listen to and talk without taking defensive position also diminishes the risk of emotional overflow. Listen carefully what you are being told and don’t fill your thoughts with what is not told. Try to understand the motives of the person talking – what really troubles them, what concerns and worries they have, etc. Don’t consider keen criticism towards you as an attack and don’t counterattack. The right reaction would be considering it as a sign of problem’s acuteness and seriousness for your partner. It doesn’t mean you must agree. Your task is to understand your partner’s feelings, accept them as valid ones, even if you can’t share them.
Having examined marriage conflicts, psychologists have unexpectedly concluded that in most cases spouses need not their problem’s solution (they know that not all problems can be resolved), but its understanding. That’s why nothing is more important than expressing empathy – the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings. Empathy is the highest degree of understanding. In order to achieve it one should start small and go step by step. First of all, one should acknowledge his/her responsibility for a conflict (as both sides always answer for their relationship in the family), apologize, give the partner credit.
Observe the decencies.
In the process of discussion you have to describe what’s happening from your point of view as calmly as possible, in short and clear manner. While complaining it’s better to start with words “I”, “me”, “mine”, and not “you”, “your”, especially “you always”, etc. Express your thoughts clearly and be very polite. Your conversation should be positive. Don’t forget to employ such words as “please”, “it seems to me”, “I’d be glad”, “it would be a good thing”, etc.
After first successfully conducted argumentation it may seem to you that you have already know this art. Don’t be too proud as everything may resume its normal course. As in any matter, there need to be practice and attention. You have to develop the skills of communication and mutual understanding to the degree they would not vanish even during the hottest and painful debates.
Evaluate your complaints.
Try to critically think not about your partner, but about your complaints. Maybe they are too high or even undoable? Maybe you could come to compromising solution? First, divert your attention from them and be patient. Try to resolve the problem on your own. If it didn’t help, go into battle in view of all above items.