When challenges pop up, many of us launch into our position – determined to make sure our partner knows that WE have the answer.
If you do this with your husband, you’ve probably noticed that he stops listening – first, preparing to defend himself, and second, trying to figure out a way to make sure his position gets heard as well. This is often the cause of arguing, yelling, and strong angry feelings.
The problem with thinking that we’re right is that there’s no way to do this without sounding arrogant and insulting. And as soon as one person feels that other is being insulting, communication shuts down – a sign that the marriage is in trouble.
The good news is you don’t need to change what you believe you only need to change how you’re communicating it. What we’re focusing on here isn’t who’s right or wrong, but how you both can communicate in ways where both feel heard and understood – the foundation of a healthy marriage.
There are a few ways to do this.
1. One way is to suggest that “we both share ideas about how to solve this, and come up with a solution together.” Actually use these words. Most of us are so busy trying to get our ideas out there that we rarely take the time to talk about HOW we get our ideas out. When you take a minute to talk about how you’ll discuss the problem, it takes the charge off any one particular solution.
2. Start with a sentence that is conditional: “I could be wrong about this, but here’s what I’m thinking…” When you do this, you communicate your flexibility and respect for other solutions.
3. Start by asking him for his solution – let him get his ideas out on the table. Once he is clear that you’ve heard his side, you will have a much more willing ear for your own ideas. “I see what you’re saying and how that could work. Here is what I’ve been thinking…”
What you’re doing is creating the right mood for collaboration – where you both work together to come up with solutions. When this happens, both partners feel heard – a necessity for a successful marriage.
And you might even get to be right.
Note from Sarah: Jeffrey is so cool…he’s actually talking about relationships here, and you’ll love his Good Husband Guide!