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If you’ve been married for a minute you know disagreements are going to come up between the two of you. But, have you ever had one of those disagreements where not only were you on opposite sides of the issue, neither one of you was willing to budge?

Guess what? You’re in good company. Plenty of marriages have experienced this; they may just not be talking about it because what does it really say about your relationship if you can’t figure out how to come to some type of compromise? Asking for a friend, right?

It’s actually possible to agree to disagree without experiencing distress in your marriage. Meaning, both people have accepted the other’s point of view without agreeing on it and they are moving on.

For some couples, this is a very far-fetched idea.

The key to couples learning how to agree to disagree is learning how to be good listeners and knowing how to value and express appreciation for their perspective, even if you have a completely different point of view.  

Typically, what happens in a marriage when spouses disagree is one person shares their perspective. Instead of really listening to what the person is saying, the other spouse is focusing on words or phrases they want to respond to. So, they don’t really hear all that their spouse said. And, while responding, the same thing happens with the other spouse which creates this dangerous downward spiral, leaving both people feeling unheard and not valued.

What if you both agreed to hear each other out?

Scott Stanley, Howard Markman, and Susan Blumberg have been researching couples for more than three decades. One of the things they learned is, it’s hard for couples to slow down long enough to hear each other before jumping in with a response. They came up with an effective way to help couples hear each other called “The Speaker/Listener Technique,” which is also known as “The Floor.”

Here’s how it works.

One spouse has “the floor.” The “floor” could be an index card, a piece of paper, anything that is a visible reminder of who is speaking at the moment. That person chooses one topic—only one topic—to talk about from their perspective.

The other spouse does not have “the floor.” They are the listener. Think of this as being an investigator. The goal is for your spouse to feel heard when they finish sharing with you. You’ve asked questions in a way that makes them know you are listening. Your spouse knows you value what they have to say—even if you don’t agree with them

Here are some other strategies to help you when it’s clear you need to agree to disagree with your spouse:

  1. Make sure your spouse feels heard. Sharpen those listening skills.
  2. Guard against allowing the disagreement to create resentment or bitterness between the two of you.
  3. Accept that it’s possible neither of you may be wrong—you just see the situation from different perspectives. It’s like being at the scene of an accident and two people telling what happened from two completely different angles. Neither is wrong, just different. Different isn’t bad. (See #5.)
  4. Make an extra effort to love through the disagreement. In other words, don’t punish each other for not seeing things eye to eye all the time.
  5. Different is good! Don’t forget, differences are like ingredients in a recipe. If you only have one ingredient, it will be a very bland dish. The different ingredients allow your tastebuds to experience the dish in an entirely different way. The same is true in your marriage.
  6. If you’re experiencing great difficulty getting past something that’s causing stress or distress in your marriage, a third party may be able to help you.

It’s not always easy to disagree without being disagreeable. Keep in mind, the one you love is far more valuable than proving your point or being right. Highly happy couples will tell you there are plenty of moments where they’ve agreed to disagree about certain things, but they never lost sight of the fact they were on the same team and their marriage was more important than whatever threatens to come between them. There is a better “right” than being right. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

You see things differently than you used to. You’re living a healthier lifestyle. You go out less. You interact differently with people. You’re investing more time into hobbies.

You love the way you feel—happier, healthier, and less stressed—except in your marriage. Your spouse seems agitated with you which just doesn’t make any sense.

Shouldn’t they be glad you’re improving and becoming a better person?

Your spouse may not see it that way, especially at first. Here’s why!

Feelings of insecurity.

Change often feels threatening. They might feel like you’re moving away from them with all the changes. It might be time to sit down and talk with your spouse about your “why” behind all the changes.  

Feeling judged.

If your spouse feels judged by your attitude toward them, it might be time to ask yourself, “Am I actually becoming a better version of myself?”

Feeling Manipulated.

If there’s the slightest feeling you’re trying to change your spouse, you can expect there will be tension. 

Related: My Spouse Has Changed.

★ As you grow and continue to better yourself, it will affect your marriage and your family. Naturally, your spouse may see it from a different perspective.

How can you work through it?

Never stop talking to one another.

Regularly talking to your spouse about what’s important to you gives them the chance to support you even if they aren’t “joining” you.

Understand their concerns.

Resist the temptation to get defensive. Put effort into listening to their concerns. Believe the best about your spouse. 

Don’t try to change your spouse.

There are strengths in your differences. Their path to becoming the best version of themselves will look different.

People respond to change differently. Through one’s eyes, it’s great and through another set of eyes, it’s potentially destructive. The uncertainty leads to unrest. 

The ultimate test is: Does your change have a positive impact on your marriage? 

Patience, empathy, and understanding must be the foundations of your communication with each other to help change be seen as growth to better yourselves and your marriage.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

Have you ever thought about how poor communication could be affecting your marriage? To be honest, for the first five years of our marriage, I don’t think I really thought much about communication in our marriage because I thought I was a decent communicator… until several “situations” occurred, the biggest of which was the time I expected my husband to read my mind.

I know. I know. It’s not possible, but hey, I was young and we were just getting started. The deal was, we made some pretty hefty purchases one year so I told my husband I didn’t think we should buy each other anything for Christmas. He agreed.

Now, when I made that suggestion, in my mind what I really meant was, you don’t need to get me anything, but it would be nice if you got me a little something. So, you know the rest of the story. Christmas day arrived, I pulled out a little something for him and he looked at me like, “Wait, what?” (Let’s just say my response was not my finest moment.) 

My poor communication created a totally unnecessary rift between the two of us.

Can you relate?

There are plenty of ways poor communication has the potential to affect your marriage. Just so I’m not leaving it up to your imagination what poor communication looks like, here are a few examples:

  1. Holding your spouse accountable for unspoken expectations you have about your relationship.
  2. Giving your spouse the silent treatment when there is an issue between the two of you.
  3. Multitasking when your spouse is trying to tell you something.
  4. Interrupting them, talking over them, or finishing their sentences for them.
  5. Listening only to respond versus listening to understand.
  6. Expecting your spouse to read your mind.

★ Let’s flip these and look at how they can impact your marriage.

  1. When you don’t share relationship expectations with your spouse it almost always leads to disappointment and disconnection, not to mention resentment and bitterness.
  1. Staying silent when you are upset sets your spouse up to play the guessing game about what is bothering you. This typically leads to wrong assumptions and makes it practically impossible for your relationship to grow.
  1. If we are being totally honest here, we all know that even if we think we are great multitaskers, it’s impossible to really focus on what someone is saying while we’re doing anything else (unless, of course, you’re taking notes on what they’re saying). When we try to multitask and listen, chances are great we will miss something important they said, a facial expression or the tone of voice they used, which are all important pieces of information.
  1. Some spouses talk about being able to finish their spouse’s sentences as if it were a sign of “we have finally arrived.” But if you asked the spouse whose sentences are always being finished for them, they probably wouldn’t say they consider this a term of endearment. It doesn’t feel good to have people talk over you, finish your sentence, or interrupt you when you are trying to communicate.
  1. Too many of us have experienced a spouse who only listens to respond. Meaning, they aren’t really listening to understand the issue at hand. Instead, they are preparing their case in their head for how they will respond when you finally stop talking. When this happens in a relationship, it leads to people shutting down, walking on eggshells, and feeling like the relationship is adversarial versus being on the same team.
  1. Back to my Christmas story. I expected my spouse to read my mind and know what I was thinking. When that didn’t happen it led to disappointment, frustration, a boatload of unnecessary drama, and me being angry at him when I really should have turned the mirror on myself. Let me just put it out there: nobody can read our minds and they shouldn’t have to. Making our spouse guess what we need is swimming in dangerous relationship waters.

Here’s the deal, nobody’s perfect and anybody can find themselves slipping into poor communication tactics that affect their marriage.

But, if you know what the landmines are, it makes it easier to either avoid them or catch yourself if you start down that road so you can do something different. 🔎 Even if some of these are things you do frequently, you can definitely learn new communication strategies. Pick one to work on this week!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

When Trump was elected President in 2016, Wakefield Research found 1 in 10 couples ended relationships over their political differences. For millennials, it was twice that. With the next presidential election upon us, many wonder if marriages with different political views can survive the increased volatility of the times.

Susan and Darrell* have been married for more than a decade. In that time, they have experienced two presidential elections where they each voted for opposite sides of the aisle. If you ask them how their marriage is today, they will tell you it’s great…

But how can your marriage be great when you disagree on such huge issues?

Susan and Darrell certainly aren’t alone when it comes to being on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Nearly 30% of married households are bipartisan. In fact, there are some pretty well-known, long-married couples who have navigated these waters for years. Take James Carville, a Democrat and Mary Matalin, a Republican. Married since 1993, Carville says in Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home, which he co-authored with his wife, “I’d rather stay happily married than pick a fight with my wife over politics.” 

That right there is the key. A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (Explaining the impact of differences in voting patterns on resilience and relational load in romantic relationships during the transition to the Trump presidency) found that couples who actively maintain their relationship are better able to “weather the storm” of an election because they build up positive emotions that protect the relationship during difficult times. So, even if you vote differently, actively maintaining your relationship can help you keep feeling emotionally connected to each other and reduce the propensity for stress and conflict.

For example, in an interview with U.S. News and World Report, Mary Matalin shares that she and her husband have many interests other than politics that they enjoy doing together like fishing, cooking and learning about history. “Talking about the impact of the minimum wage is just not something that is high on our list of fun things to do,” she says.

What does this mean for couples who find themselves with opposing political perspectives? Susan and Darrell, along with other couples in the same political boat say this: “Instead of allowing your political differences to divide you, see it for what it is and don’t allow it to take center stage in your marriage. There are a lot of things we agree on and enjoy doing together. We choose to focus on those things.” 

When you find that you and your mate differ on things like politics, these tips can help you navigate through those differences for the good of your marriage:

  • Avoid trying to change your spouse. Trying to get your spouse to change will only create angst in your marriage. You can appreciate the fact that they are active in the political process and exercise their right to vote (just like you), which is a really good thing and not something to take for granted. 
  • Know that every married couple has issues they agree to disagree on for the duration of their marriage. Let politics be one of them. 
  • Focus on why you married them in the first place.
  • Build up those positive emotions that protect your marriage. Compliment your spouse. Speak kindly about them to others. Be intentional about focusing on the things you love about your spouse and your relationship.
  • Rein in negativity. The more you think negative thoughts about your differences, the more you teach your brain to think negatively about your spouse. This is a dangerous downward spiral that can take you places you do not want to go.
  • Appreciate ways that you are not the same. Differing opinions and perspectives can offer depth and the ability to practice empathy in a relationship.
  • Put safeguards in place such as agreeing that you aren’t going to talk about politics and you for sure are not going to chide your spouse about their political persuasion.
  • Remember what matters most. Your marriage is more important than many differences you have, including politics. It will likely outlast any president’s tenure. 
  • Be respectful. Even when you disagree with your spouse, you can still be respectful. (Here’s why respect matters.)

A pandemic + a struggling economy + an election all in the same year can = frayed nerves, anxiety and an unusual level of sensitivity.

These things can magnify differences in your marriage that normally wouldn’t be a big deal. Knowing that this moment in time is especially extraordinary and putting some safeguards in place can protect your marriage. This allows you to focus on the goals you have set for your marriage… even when you disagree.

*names have been changed.

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

While you’re engaged, conversations tend to hover endlessly around the wedding day, and naturally so. Though working out the details and planning your celebration is exciting, having conversations about other topics is important, too. 

You and your fiancé are stepping into something beautiful—a promise of commitment, a proclamation of loving each other now and falling in love over and over again, a 24/7 best friend, and a person who wants to love you at your best and through the worst. You owe it to each other to take the time to appreciate what you have and to continue the pursuit.

One way to pursue each other is to sit down and have important conversations. Continue to learn about each other, find a middle ground for things you may not have the same opinion on, and keep the door open to come back to these conversations down the road. As time goes by, things can change, and so can you. 

5 Conversations Every Engaged Couple Should Have Before They Say, “I Do”

1. Talk about the importance of marriage, what it means to you both and what you hope for it to look like.

Being on the same page about why marriage is important to you helps you both take ownership of your relationship and establishes its value. When you take the time to lay out your hopes and expectations, you invite your spouse into the opportunity to make those happen. If you don’t voice what you expect from your future spouse, you’ll set them up for failure and yourself up for disappointment.

2. Do you want children?

If one of you does and the other doesn’t, this could be quite an obstacle to get over. It is important not to assume the other’s answer in this particular conversation because it intimately affects what the future looks like. Talking about this as an engaged couple is a really big deal.

3. How do you handle conflict and what rules do you want to establish on how to fight when you do?

Conflict is inescapable for any relationship, says Psychologist Dan Wile, but some of the best news is that conflict handled well actually brings you closer instead of pulling you apart. You have to find what works best for you both. For my husband and I, we have two ground rules: 1. No yelling and 2. No cussing at each other. This works for us! If we feel like we are going to start yelling, we call timeout and revisit the conversation after we have had time to process.

With more than 40 years of love and relationship research under their belt, The Gottman Institute says that whether love will last is more about how couples address their differences and support one another’s needs and dreams. Here are some steps they suggest to handle conflict better.

4. Talk through your finances. 

What are your financial goals? Have you talked about a budget and about savings? This topic can take a turn for the worst pretty quickly if you don’t find a middle ground. Here’s some guidance on automating money in your marriage and saving thousands by The Gottman Institute.

5. Intimacy in your relationship.

It’s an often underrated conversation. Being intimate isn’t limited to being physical, though that is an important part. In fact, there’s emotional and spiritual intimacy, too. Each of these plays into each other and helps create a deeper bond with your partner because you are learning about them in a way that others may never experience. Spending quality time together is a great way to increase intimacy. Talk about what your dreams are, your spirituality, your feelings and what’s on your heart as well.

Get personal with your sweetheart. Start out your marriage with the muscle memory of talking through tough conversations, how you want to love each other and what’s important to you. The more you communicate, the richer the potential for a lovely life together. Now who’s ready to say I do?

Check out some other great blogs for engaged couples:

Weddings are time consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

Image from Unsplash.com

Family. Have you ever wondered how you can share the same parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents, a common bloodline, yet see things so differently and have so many different opinions? COVID-19 has highlighted the differences in belief systems, political views, economic status, and so many other issues that can lie within a single-family.

These differences can become polarizing, causing serious divisions and potentially irreparable damage to your family unit. You’re probably reading this because you’re aware that your family is at risk of ripping apart. And of course, you want to do everything you can to keep it together.

How can you keep COVID-19 opinions from tearing your family apart?

Call it Out. You may be the one who has to say, “I’m afraid that we’re going to allow this virus and our opinions on this virus to tear us apart.” You may have to ask, “All of the memories, experiences, love, and connectedness that we’ve shared as a family over the years, are we willing to throw it away because of our opinions about the virus? How do we make sure that doesn’t happen?

The awareness of the virus is infiltrating so many of our thoughts, plans, behaviors, and lifestyles. You may have to be the one who is intentional about shifting the focus to what it means to be a family. Family is the one place that you remain a part of despite the differences. So you learn how to thrive in the midst of difference. Bringing to everyone’s attention the need to be intentional about staying connected as a family in the midst of the virus can be powerful.

The family is bigger than one person. Don’t carry the weight of trying to control how others may or may not prioritize the family. No one person can carry the full weight of keeping the family together. Family means different things to different people even within the same family. Recognize what you can control. Leverage your influence to help your family see the bigger picture. 

Understand your need to be emotionally and mentally healthy. A healthy and secure you will have more influence than an unstable, insecure you. Your family may have helped you develop a sense of self. However, do not depend on your family for your entire sense of self. You can’t depend on your family’s acceptance and agreement to feel validated and complete. If you do, you can run the risk of trying to keep the family together out of fear or a personal need for fulfillment. 

Don’t invest energy trying to change the mind of others. A person convinced against their will is still of the same opinion. Let that sink in. Rarely do I see arguments and debates where someone actually changes their mind. I still haven’t heard of someone changing someone’s mind using social media. Often, the more we try, the more we can slip into trying to control others or lose control of ourselves.

Respect. Leading a conversation about what it means to respect one another can help the family set boundaries and be intentional about respecting one another’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Sometimes we can become so passionate about our position that we totally disrespect the position of others without even realizing it. As a family, having a clear understanding of what it means to respect one another’s differences can help family members coexist with the differing opinions.

Model healthy behavior. Be the one to talk less and listen more. Recognize that people are motivated by different things. Some have good motivations, and others not so good. Manage your emotions and be willing to try and understand your family. If you can help people feel heard, valued, and understood, then you’ve helped your family members know that they matter even if their opinions are different.

Acceptance of choices. Some family members are going to be extremely cautious and follow all of the CDC guidelines. Other family members may believe the virus isn’t a big deal and act accordingly. Some may feel like family members don’t care and are putting others at risk. Others may believe some are acting totally out of fear. A family is made up of individuals who have the freedom to think and feel whatever they choose. Give individuals the freedom to be who they are and you do what you need to do.

Make decisions based on what you know about the virus and your family members. This can be difficult because it may mean we don’t get to see certain people. When a person shows you who they are, believe them. There are conversations you may not need to have with family members because it always sparks animosity. Remember, everyone is learning how to live with COVID-19 in our world. Learning to live with differing opinions can take time.

Look for ways to show that you care about one another. Host virtual family game nights and Zoom family calls. Send one another care packages. Send messages of love and support. COVID-19 can have you so focused on what we can’t do that we forget what we can do

Set aside time to be intentional about spending time with one another and talk about other topics. This helps to remind you that the family is stronger and has more history than COVID-19. For example, celebrating birthdays. This has been a wild year! Instead of letting a birthday go by with just a card or phone call, consider celebrating virtually and making it a big deal because this year will be one for the books for sure! 

✭ Beliefs, opinions, and thoughts regarding COVID-19 dominate social media and news outlets. It hasn’t escaped family dinner tables and Zoom calls and it’s affecting everyone’s ability to show love and care to the ones we care the most about—family. This can cause fear, stress, loneliness, and anxiety. People develop their own expectations—some reasonable and some unrealistic. Family members will respond to change in different ways

You CAN’T control what family members say and do. You CAN focus on being your best self while at the same time working to care for and understand your family. As you model respect and value for each person, you can hope that the love and care you have for your family will help others see that the family is bigger than the virus.

Image from Pexels.com

Fighting with your fiancé all the time, aka, the person you are planning on spending forever with, can feel just exhausting. The uncertainty from COVID-19, the potential for rescheduling your wedding, fear of job loss, or navigating unemployment while trying to secure a future together, spending what may feel like too much time together, and so many unknowns right now can definitely stir the dust in the air. Just when you think the dust is going to settle, one of you kicks it back up again! 

I have seen far too many people fall into the trap of marrying a person thinking that they knew them, but in reality, they only knew about them,” says Dr. John Van Epp, relationship expert, and author. 

So, for starters, if you find yourself in constant conflict with your fiancé, what exactly are you fighting about?  

  • Finances around the wedding?
  • When you will actually get married?  
  • What the celebration will look like in the midst of “RONA?”
  • One of you is messy and the other is a neat freak?
  • Your mother?
  • Quarantining during the Pandemic?
  • The dishes in the sink overnight?
  • Money in general?

Fighting about things that matter is one thing, but if you find yourself fighting with your fiancé about Every. Little. Thing, that’s a whole new ballgame. It might be a good time to take inventory of your relationship and see if it’s unhealthy. 

An important thing to consider—if you are fighting about everyday things that you will for sure continue to encounter, and you are thinking that once you marry things will simmer down and those issues won’t be such a big deal or you will be able to “work on your spouse” to get them to change… Do not be fooled. If you see things that you need to work on individually or as a couple, the chances of change happening before the wedding are far greater than after the ring is on your finger

The hopeful news is that conflict is inescapable for any relationship, AND some of the best news is that conflict handled well actually brings you closer instead of pulling you apart. 

You for sure are not alone in this. Psychologist Dan Wile says it best in his book After the Honeymoon: “When choosing a long-term partner, you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unresolvable problems.” It’s true.  Every couple has around 10 things they will not necessarily agree on for the duration of their marriage. Despite this, relationship expert Dr. Gottman, who has studied couples for the last 40 years, has found that about ⅓ of conflicts can be resolved with the right approach. Even for those things that you might disagree on for forever, Gottman found that how you approach each other is the key.

Dr. Gottman’s Approach:

  • Step 1: Soften Your Start-Up. Are you beginning the conversation where you left off in your head? When your fiancé gets to your apartment you say, “Why should I ever be ready on time? You’re always late.” They respond with, “I got stuck behind an accident. I’m working on my timing.” Then maybe you go on to say, “It’ll be something else next time.” Soft Start-Ups don’t include the Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling). Instead, you and your partner start the conversation gently and with intentions of understanding each other and coming to a resolution.
  • Step 2: Learn to Send and Receive Repair Attempts. Think of a repair attempt as slamming on the brakes when you see a red light. You do this to avoid a collision that could harm your marriage,” says Kyle Benson from the Gottman Institute. In the example above, acknowledging that your fiancé is working on their time management could have de-escalated the situation. Practicing sending and receiving repair attempts can help improve the quality of your relationship.
  • Step 3: Soothe Yourself and Each Other. If you know you’re too upset to have a conversation at the moment, take a 20-30 minute break and try and “focus on the positives of your relationship by yourself.” When you’re “Flooded, ” as Dr. John Gottman refers to it, your brain is flooded with stress hormones and chemicals that make it nearly impossible for your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain responsible for complex problem-solving, to function. As a result, you can’t physiologically function as you normally would. You can’t communicate as you normally should. Acknowledge what makes you feel flooded, talk about the best way and time to bring up issues to each other, how your partner can soothe you and what signals you can give each other to clue the other into how you’re feeling.
  • Step 4: Compromise. When you negotiate, you accept each other’s imperfections while recognizing your relationship is more important than the argument and being right.
  • Step 5: Address Emotional Injuries. Sometimes how you fight is what hurts more than what you were fighting about. Be open to talking it out and processing what you two went through. Accept responsibility and learn from your fights.

Fighting with your fiancé doesn’t have to be all bad—it can be an area for growth and an opportunity to understand each other’s differences better. A great way to fight for your relationship is by preparing for marriage. Consider premarital education or counseling to set yourselves up with the tools you need to thrive in your relationship.

Some other blogs you might find helpful!

10 RULES TO “FIGHT NICE” WITH YOUR SPOUSE

TOP 10 POTENTIAL MARRIAGE PITFALLS

10 GREAT DATES BEFORE YOU SAY “I DO”

10 RED FLAGS IN A DATING RELATIONSHIP

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from AdobeStock.com

Weddings are time consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

I WAS MAD! Furious, in fact. Bitter and fed up. Totally resenting my husband. This was like the gazillionth Saturday in a row my husband got up and left the house to go do a job for someone. And I definitely felt like he left me with all the laundry and housework. Both of us had full-time jobs and paying someone else to do it was not an option.

This particular Saturday I decided I’d had enough. So, when he walked back through the door late that afternoon, I let him have it. I had rehearsed all day what I was going to say and how I was going to say it to make sure he didn’t miss a thing. The “deer-in-the-headlights” look I got in return let me know he was 100% clueless. He had no idea that resentment had been building up in me for a while. How in the heck could he NOT know?

That happened about three decades ago, but I remember like it was yesterday. That was the day I realized resenting my husband was more dangerous than his cluelessness.

So, here’s what this resentful spouse learned about how to stop resenting her husband.

Ultimately, I had to ask myself, “Are there any ways I am contributing to the resentment I feel?”

I learned that I was following behind everything he attempted to do like folding the towels, vacuuming, or even putting the dishes in the dishwasher and criticizing how he did it. I finally figured out that criticizing him made him shut down, so I decided to stop.

Instead of thinking he could read my mind or SEE what needed to be done, like the laundry basket I intentionally left sitting in the middle of the family room, I started telling him that I needed help with certain things. AND I didn’t tell him “the right way” (i.e. “my way”) to do whatever I asked him to do. 

If I am always at odds with my husband, I’m not very pleasant to be around.

I honestly don’t want to resent my husband. What I really want is for us to enjoy time together. I decided when I felt myself getting irritated and resentful, I would literally stop what I was doing, take a walk around the block, and ask myself: “What is really at the crux of the matter?” 

Sometimes, I actually noticed, I just needed someone to be irritated with and he was an easy target. Other times, something didn’t go like I thought it should—date night, dinner plans, or his arrival time home. Or maybe he didn’t do what he said he was going to do because he forgot or whatever and I felt justified in my resentment. Now what? 

One time when I was ranting about all of my husband’s shortcomings, a very wise woman asked me, “So, I guess he never experiences any of this from you, right?” The fact that she was 90 and I was 30 kept me from losing it. The truth was, she had a great point. I forget, not often, but I do. There are plenty of things I do that get on his nerves that he could resent about me.

Then she said to me, “In the end, what is it you want? I mean, what is your resentment going to accomplish in your relationship? At the very best you will be two people who figure out how to co-exist in the same house. At the very worst, you won’t stay together. Is that how you want to live?” The answer was an emphatic NO! At that moment, I decided I was going to kick ongoing resentment out of our house and relationship.

When I feel resentment trying to creep in, I figure out where it is coming from and if it is worthy of a conversation.

If I believe that it is conversation-worthy, I ask my husband for a good time to talk. PRO-TIP: We have learned that if you are tired, hungry, or angry, that is not the time to try and have a conversation. When I can calmly explain, “I am exhausted and need help with our daughter,” or “I really need time with you—I am missing us,” it is a much better conversation than, “You never help with anything around here,” or “I think you don’t love me because you never want to spend time with me.” Trust me with this.

✭ Let me be straight up with you: if you are experiencing resentment because you are in a physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive relationship, seek help.Abuse is serious and unacceptable. It will be difficult to navigate change in your relationship on your own.

To Be Resentful or Not to Be Resentful?

If I were having coffee with my 29-year-old self, I would have no shortage of lessons learned to share, that’s for sure. Maybe one of the most important lessons I’ve learned when it comes to resentment is this: I have a choice. I can choose to be resentful or I can choose not to be resentful. When I can see clearly, what I know about my husband is, he is trustworthy, hardworking, funny, respectful, honest, a good father, reliable and he really does care about me and us. When I think about those things, often what I am resentful about pales in comparison.

What kind of guy is your husband? Have you trained your brain to only see his shortcomings? Here’s a challenge: for the next 30 days, focus on your husband’s positive character qualities instead of his “flaws.” Appreciation goes a long way when it comes to relationship restoration. How you feel about him at the end of the challenge might surprise you, and how he responds to you just might surprise you as well. 😉

Perhaps you’ve decided to wait around for him to realize that he’s the problem and he needs to change. If that’s the case, I am pretty confident you will be disappointed. It just takes one person doing something different to bring about change in your marriage. The question is, how badly do you want something to be different?


***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

I have good news and bad news if you disagree about parenting. First, the bad news. Marriage researcher, therapist, and author, Dr. John Gottman has found that there are several issues couples will NEVER 100% agree on. Parenting is one of them. One of you is probably all about tough love while the other is more permissive. Maybe one of you is all about the bedtime while the other is a little more lax in that area. Or perhaps one of you makes them eat everything on their plate while the other gives them more options on what they eat. 

It’s been that way since you’ve had kids and it’s probably not going to change.

Now, for the good news. Your child needs both of you—differences and all. When a couple learns how to work together through their differences, the marriage is stronger. Just as importantly, your children are better off for it. Kids need stable, loving parents—not perfect ones that agree on everything.

I know that sounds good and all. But how does that work? Let me say that I understand your challenges. My wife and I are the proud parents of seven kids and we couldn’t be more different in our approach to parenting. She’s more black and white when it comes to discipline. Actions lead to consequences. I’m the, “Let’s talk this through and understand it better” parent. She’s the parent who wants the four oldest kids to clean the kitchen together so they learn how to work with each other. I’m the divide and conquer. Two of you clean today and two of you clean tomorrow because I don’t want to hear fussing and arguing.

When my oldest daughter doesn’t tell the truth about something (I’m sure that’s a surprise that a 13-year-old doesn’t always tell the truth), often our instinctive approach is very different from one another. 

Why is it so important that you recognize the differences?

  • Marital Tension: Your different approaches, at times, cause dissension within your marriage. You can feel like your spouse is either too hard, too lenient, too strict, too passive, too trusting, or too controlling. Tension also may grow when you feel like your spouse is not supportive of your parenting efforts.
  • Leads to children manipulating parents: Children can pick up on division. And they will feed off of it to get their way. (We’ve seen that happen a few times.)
  • Division: Families are meant to be a unit. When couples do not learn how to work together as parents, it can lead to division within the family—and that is unhealthy for everyone.
  • Poor Training of Children and Confusion: Kids don’t know boundaries, expectations, or structure. It becomes more difficult for them to learn right from wrong.

How do couples manage parenting when they disagree?

Discuss differences behind closed doors: Children don’t need to hear you disagree about parenting, how to discipline, what activities to participate in, where to allow the kids to go, etc. Amy McCready, the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, says that 95% of issues don’t have to be solved on the spot. Don’t feel pressured to solve everything immediately. Become adept at saying, “Your (mother) and I will discuss this and let you know.

Don’t throw the other parent under the bus: Avoid statements like, “I think that’s a good idea. Let me check with your mother.” Now she’s the bad guy if in fact you decide it’s not a good idea. “We would, but your father doesn’t like that kind of thing.” Or, “You know your mom wouldn’t go for that.

Sincerely talk with one another from a team perspective: Figuring out how to work together is powerful. Listen and understand one another. Often you can meet in the middle. Sometimes you may lean more toward one spouse’s perspective or the other. Sometimes you can end up doing both. My wife and I have learned that I can generally get my children to acknowledge where they’ve gone wrong and how to correct it. And I’ve learned that without the consequences that she’s encouraging us to enforce, they are more likely to repeat the same behavior. We’ve often gotten the best of both worlds.

Present a united front: Once the two of you can agree on a parenting choice about an issue, then be on board with the plan, even if it wasn’t exactly the one you wanted. Make it your goal that the kids never know whose idea it was in the first place. I love it when my kids think a consequence was their mom’s idea, but really it was mine, not because I want them to think she’s the bad guy. Our goal is to show them we’re a team, not a team against the kids, but a parenting team working in the best interest of our family.

Don’t be afraid of making a “wrong” decision: It happens. There’ve been times we’ve come down too hard and times we were too lenient. There were times where we allowed them to participate in something that in hindsight was not the best decision. And what’s worse is that my wife and I disagreed on the front end and we chose the wrong path. Our children were not ruined for life because of our bad decision. Don’t forget, the best gift we can give them is a stable, committed relationship. Perfection is not part of the definition

Seek input from parents you trust: Find couples with similar values whose children are in the next phase your children are moving toward and pick their brain. Ask them about their parenting differences and how they’ve made it work. 

Support your spouse in their absence: Michele Weiner-Davis, best selling author and marriage therapist tells a story of undermining her husband’s parenting authority by disciplining and parenting her children over the phone when their father was home with them and she did not think he was doing what she thought was right. She learned that this was not healthy for her children, their father, or their marriage. She realized that it was healthier for her to truly trust and leave the parenting to her husband when she was out of town and to support his decisions. When she came to that realization, the next time a child called her for parenting when dad was home with them, she let them know that she supported whatever decision dad chose

➤➤There are parenting decisions that your spouse will have to make that are different than what you’d do. 🔎 Before criticizing your spouse’s decision, ask yourself this question: “Do I believe he wants what is best for our children?” More times than not, the answer is yes. Show your spouse you believe in them as a parent.

✰ Conclusion: Different is not deficient.

It’s just different. What I hope you both do agree about is that you both love your children and want the best for them. The relationship skills your child learns from watching the two of you parent in the midst of disagreements may just be more powerful than if you agreed on every single thing. 

Yes, your kids will pick up on the parental differences regardless of how united a front you present. The strength in the marriage is that the differences do not divide you. The security for your children that you provide by parenting them through the differences will serve them well years after they are grown and gone, living out the principles you’ve taught them.

**Please note that this article is NOT about an abusive or neglectful parent. The physical and emotional safety of a child is not a difference in parenting styles. Anyone who knows of child abuse happening should call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).**

Image from Unsplash.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

It’s nothing new to disagree with the ones you love, whether it’s about COVID-19, quarantine, religion, guns, racism, politics, football or something else. In fact, chances are pretty good that you completely disagree on certain topics with someone you care deeply about. The disagreements may be so intense you wonder how you can actually co-exist. 

The level of intensity might feel more so at this moment in time in our culture. In fact, many people can hardly believe that the people they love have such different perspectives from their own. The ongoing stress from trying to navigate these issues can take a massive toll on our relationships. FOR REAL.

What do you do when you strongly disagree with the ones you love?

Although you might be tempted to confront them and tell them they are just plain wrong, you might want to reconsider. That plan probably won’t go very well for you because it’s likely your loved one will feel attacked. Nobody wants to feel attacked, right?

Instead, start by asking yourself a few questions.

What is the goal of my conversation with this person?

Do I just want to share information?

Am I trying to understand their perspective?

Do I feel the need to convince them they are wrong?

Am I trying to prove that I have a valid point?

Do I have to WIN?

Taking the time to think about your ultimate goal can help you prepare to constructively engage with them.

It may help to remember that no matter how hard you try, you cannot change someone else or make them see something the very same way that you do. Yelling at them, belittling them, coming across as condescending, stomping out of the room or being sarcastic will only fuel the fire. And it will take you further away from your intended goal.

Plenty of married couples, extended family,, siblings and roommates have vehemently disagreed about things, yet their love and respect for each other was never in question. How you have the discussion matters.

Here are some tips you can use to make your conversations productive:

  1. Look for things you do agree on. It is likely that you agree on far more than you disagree about. 
  2. Kindness and respect goes a long way when trying to discuss difficult topics. Be aware of your tone of voice and body language.
  3. Avoid imagining how you think the conversation will go or how it has gone in the past. Playing negative scenarios in your head will actually increase your stress. It could also steer the conversation downhill straight out of the gates.
  4. Be prepared to genuinely listen to their perspective—even if you already believe you don’t agree with them and can’t fathom how they could believe what they believe. When people feel heard, you are more likely to keep the conversation going and avoid damaging your relationship. **PRO-TIP: Paraphrase what you hear and avoid using the word, “but.” Using “but” negates everything that the other person just said. Try using “and” instead.**
  5. If it feels like the conversation is becoming heated, remember that getting louder will escalate the situation for sure. Plus, it actually makes it harder to hear what is being said. If you are struggling to think clearly or keep your cool, take a break. Say you need to go to the bathroom or you need to get a drink of water—anything to take a break in the action and allow yourselves time to breathe. Pausing is powerful.
  6. Avoid using “You always, you never,” and “You should.” Instead, focus on yourself and share your perspective while using “I” statements (I feel, I believe, I want, I need, etc.).

These are particularly stressful times, and when you disagree with the ones you love, IT’S HARD.

This means that many of us are experiencing extended periods of heightened anxiety and are constantly in a fight or flight mode—which is totally not normal. Fuses are shorter and we are probably more easily irritated. And, we may react more quickly, especially if we’ve been thinking or dwelling on the topic at hand. Acknowledge this and think through the fact that how we handle difficult conversations can impact the quality of our relationships. 

It’s vital to remember that this is a process. If over time the conversation seems to go nowhere, you may need to set boundaries around this topic in an effort to keep from destroying the relationship. Keep in mind that if you choose to walk away from the relationship, you will no longer have the opportunity to present a different perspective.

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