It has been proven time and time again that no real relationship or marriage exists without healthy argument and disagreements. All humans are different and have different opinions and views and this certainly applies in today’s modern families. Marriages are not exempt. Differences, although can be looked at from a negative point of view, are actually healthy and build character in your marriage. Of course, as long as these differences/disagreements are not something that cause irreversible harm and/or discord.
One of the biggest mistakes couples make is that they think by ignoring their problems or brushing them under the rug, that time or the absence of discussion about them will keep them from resurfacing. However, the exact opposite is true. Silencing yourself, pushing your feelings and problems under the rug will only enhance them. It will not only be the cause of their resurfacing, but the cause of them exploding into something much worse!
When issues arise, being objective is key to overcoming problems. In my work, it is often easy for me to listen to a couple and pretty much immediately point out exactly what is going on between them and whether or not it is something they are going to be able to work out. At times, to them, it seems that I can even understand their relationship better than they can. How…you might ask? Simply, my point of view of their relationship is objective and not personal as it is with them. As the old saying goes, “It’s easier to see from the outside looking in rather than the inside looking out.“ The key word being “objective.”
In every relationship, each person not only deserves to have their point of view validated when issues arise but also they deserve to know that their opinions matter to their spouse. For example, you and your spouse are in an argument because your husband comes home, immediately gets his newspaper and beer and for the next hour ignores everyone and everything around him. He even gets upset when you interrupt him because you have supper on the table. When communicating your feelings, you might begin with “I understand that reading is very relaxing for you but we haven’t seen one another all day and when we don’t eat together, I feel disconnected from you,” instead of immediately going for the jugular with “You grabbing the paper and ignoring me is pissing me off.” Being a little empathetic to your spouse’s reason for his/her behavior goes a long way.
A great tool in communication is empathy. Try walking in your partners shoes (or thinking about it that way) when a situation arises. Separating yourself and your marriage from the problem at hand is a good start. When things are stalled, ask your partner “What can WE do to change this?“ Think of ways around what you are arguing about and sometimes, just simply agreeing to disagree on an issue is enough. This simple step can be applied in your blended family environment as well.
Another great tool to use is to adopt a bit of flexibility when you are having disagreements, especially if you have been known to be on the stubborn side at times. When you are willing to give a little bit and take a little bit, you will find that your spouse will be inclined to do the same.
Learning the art of being objective, flexible, empathetic and respectful with your spouse are valuable lessons in creating productive communication through disagreement, and of which will carry the two of you for a lifetime.
Peace & Blessings,