Category: Communication

Negotiating Solutions

“Ignore it and it will go away?” Is that your philosophy? If so, your relationships will never be authentic. In healthy relationships, people must talk about the things that irritate them. They must seek to negotiate solutions which will respect their differences. Put your head in the sand, and your problems will get worse. Speak the truth in love and you can solve your problems. Don’t change the subject when your spouse brings up a topic that you think will start an argument. Simply ask, “Do you want us to share our ideas and look for a solution? If so, I’m willing to talk. If we are simply going to argue, I don’t have the energy to do that. If we can respect each other’s thoughts I think we can find an answer.” This is the way to build healthy relationships.

Learn to Listen Empathetically

If you are married and you take pride in being reasonable, and you see your spouse as being unreasonable, you are in the process of destroying your marriage. The person I’m talking about is calm, cool and collected. He believes that if you will listen to his arguments, you will be forced to agree. Any sane person could not disagree. “Let me explain this to you one more time.” The implication is that if you will just listen, you will understand and thus agree. This person makes no room for emotions. All that matters is logic. But I remind you that God made us emotional creatures and if you don’t allow for emotions, you will never create an intimate marriage. Learn to listen. Treat your spouse as a person of worth. Ask for their opinions and be empathetic with their feelings.

Healthy Patterns of Communication

Communication is not enough. It must be healthy communication. There are many unhealthy patterns of communication, but none as deadly as “The Blamer.” “It’s your fault.” “If it weren’t for you everything would be fine.” “You never do anything right.” “I don’t know how you could be so stupid.” The blamer destroys intimacy and makes communication impossible. An ancient Hebrew proverb says, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.” If you are a blamer, I urge you to apologize to the person you so often blame. Your relationship will never improve until you admit your destructive words and seek to understand the other person’s perspective.

Evaluating Communication

We talk a lot about the importance of communication in relationships, but we don’t often evaluate our communication. Yet, how we talk greatly affects the quality of our conversation. Many have developed unhealthy patterns of communication and wonder why their conversations seem to go down hill. One such pattern is the placator. “That’s fine with me.” Or, “Whatever you want is fine.” It’s really not “fine,” but this person does not like arguments, so, on the surface they simply agree, but inside they resent the attitude of the other person. We will never have an authentic, relationship until we learn to share our honest thoughts and feelings. You might begin by asking, “Would you really like to know my thoughts?” If they say, ‘yes’, then share them.

Q&A: Jealousy Issues

Q:  I have jealousy issues toward my wife. We are newly married, but I struggle with her having other guy friends. How can I deal with this?

Gary: Some jealousy is normal, particularly in the early years of marriage. We cannot, however, smother our spouse and not let them have friends. If it’s simply friendships with simple conversations, then no problem. But if indeed she has hidden (or not so hidden) feelings for these friends and there are some romantic elements involved, that’s not permissible in a healthy marriage. Be honest with her about your feelings. She in turn needs to be honest with you about the nature of these relationships. Marriage is designed to be exclusive and this conversation will help set that standard.

Q&A: Newly Married but Having Little Fights

Q: After getting married we are having a hard time with coming together with our money. When it comes to bills it seems like it’s either hers or mine. Any advice?

Gary: Talk about it. It’s normal for couples to have issues of adjustment when they get married. I suggest that each week you have a family conference in which each of you brings up one thing that is bothering you. Then the two of you look for an answer. If it’s done on a regular basis, you will process normal conflicts in a positive way. If you don’t have a set time to talk you will likely hold things inside until the pressure gets so strong that you explode and end up in an argument. Sharing concerns and looking for solutions draws a couple together. Love is always willing to listen and open to change.

Struggle With Anger?

Let’s be honest, many of us have never learned to handle anger positively. Our responses to anger in the past have always made things worse. Some people deny that they have an anger problem. Margaret was a screamer. She prided herself in “speaking her mind”. She justified her tirades until the day her daughter left her the following note. “Dear Mom, I won’t be home tonight. I can’t take your screaming anymore. I don’t know what will happen to me, but at least I won’t have to hear all the nasty things you say to me when I don’t do everything you want.” Margaret read the note, cried, and called her pastor, who in turn helped her find a Christian counselor. Don’t wait until you get a note – reach out for help.

Love Stimulates Love

Love is a choice.

We can request love, but we cannot demand love. We cannot make our spouse speak our love language. However, though we can’t control our spouse, we can control our attitude and our behavior.

The good news is that love stimulates love. And though the object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love, it is a fact that when we receive love, we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires.

Try this…

Choose an attitude of love. Learn the love language of your spouse and speak it on a regular basis. Then, three months down the road, you can say to them,

‘On a scale of zero to ten, how much love do you feel coming from me?’

If they give you a seven, eight, nine, ten—you’re at the top. Or if they say anything less than ten, you say,

‘What can I do to bring it up to a ten or bring it up to a nine?’

They’ll probably give you a suggestion. To the best of your ability, you do that.

Repeat this process every two weeks by simply asking your spouse what you can do to love them better, and taking their answer to heart.

There’s a good chance that, before long, they’re going to say, ‘Well, wait a minute here. I’m turning this around. On a scale of zero to ten, how much love do you feel coming from me?’”

Before you know it, they’ll be working to love you as well as you have loved them.

And that is exactly how love stimulates love.

*This article is one of many featured in Marriage Hacks: 25 Practical Ways to Make Love Last by Tyler Ward.
To find out more, or to download for free, CLICK HERE.

Holding Things In

Do you tend to hold things inside instead of sharing your thoughts and feelings? One wife said, “He came home one day and told me he was leaving. I could not believe it. I had no idea that it was that bad.” How does this happen in a marriage?  Or, in a friendship? It happens when we fall silent. No one can read your mind. Once we share our thoughts and feelings we can work on a solution. No one can work on a solution until he is aware of the problem. Often, we don’t talk because we are afraid of how the other person will respond. In that case we are in bondage to our fear. Break the silence and give your relationship a chance. Honesty is the foundation for authentic relationships.

Q&A: Balancing the Facts and Our Emotions

Q: I’m a hyper-rational thinker who relies on facts alone. My girlfriend says emotions need to be a part of any decision-making process. What do you think about this?

Gary: I think both of you are right. We need to think before we make decisions, but we also need to acknowledge our feelings. We are thinking, feeling creatures and every decision we make should involve both of them. Being honest about our feelings and getting the facts straight are both integral parts of making the right decisions. So, I wouldn’t fight over either/or; I would incorporate both.

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