One thing that stands out from my training in Anger Management Coaching was we were learning about couples. When was the worst time to quarrel or try and hash something out or “complain” to your loved one? Right when they walk through the door after work. “HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU SPEND ON YOUR STUPID CAR THIS WEEK?!” or “WHY ARE YOU LATE!” This is usually followed by one of several reactions. Your precious loved one may shut down, tell you to stop talking, but in a much more aggressive fashion, or sometimes even…just turn around and walk right back out that door. There are several reasons for this not being a great time to quarrel or work something out:
- Tired from a long day at work
- Low blood-sugar
- Traffic/Commute home through rush hour
- The physiological need to wind down
There is one more that I think deserves extra attention. How nice would it be to walk into your home after a long day at work and have your kids go play, you and your partner sit and relax for a half hour, then start dinner? No arguments, no yelling, no “clean your room!” or “get your homework done!” or “YOU FORGOT THE EGGS AND MILK!” Instead, “How was your day babe?” or “Wanna have a no-talk time for a few minutes?” In our home, we work different times. My son and I get home at like 330 and my fiancé leaves for his music teaching at about 1 and is gone until about 9 or 10. So I have had that time to relax and unwind, but I always have to keep in mind that he hasn’t had that chance when he walks through that door. So I get that there are differences that way. And a couple I know, they work from home. So I know that this doesn’t apply to everyone. However, here is the HUMOUNGOUS tip. Wait until about a half hour after supper has been consumed. You will both be in a better more satisfied mood. And while we are at it, here are a few more pointers:
Watch your motives. Are you bringing this up so that you can be right, better, more, to hurt or to punish? – It is my opinion that your motives should be to communicate what is happening for you and if need be, to resolve. SOLVE.
Are you forcing this fight? Is your partner unable to manage the strain? Is your partner too tired because he/she had to pull a double shift? – It’s not that he/she doesn’t care, it may very well be that he/she just can’t right now. It is important for that person to say that they love you and that they really do value your feelings, but they are just way too exhausted to “fight” right now.
Are you taking responsibility? Blame is a nasty word. It wouldn’t be necessary if we all took responsibility. Honestly. I was speaking with an amazing friend today, and he said something that struck me. Not that this is a new concept with me, but I think we all have the ability to tell when people aren’t being honest with us. “He’s not being honest with me.” And it sucks when we know that the receiver of our message isn’t being honest. Whether that person is straight up lying or withholding information or whatever, we know. And like I said in my very first blog, what’s so wrong about being wrong? Or having a difference of opinion for that matter? It’s a wonderful opportunity to step up and see how brave you can be about taking responsibility.
Then there are the obvious ones, don’t be degrading or use harsh language. Don’t compare, “why can’t you be more like my sister, she cooks for her husband every night!” And take a break if you need to. This may be a tempting time to just leave it alone, but make sure to set a return to discussion time.
I think the bottom line here is understanding. We all want to be understood. We all want to communicate our “issues” and have our reasons and feelings understood. When I was going through my Mediation Certification and Negotiation Certification, this phrase was widely used
Seek first to understand, then to be understood – S. Covey
I am a huge fan of the HBO Miniseries, Band of Brothers. There is a scene in episode 6, Bastogne. The medic, Doc Roe is struggling with his role in the war as a medic. (My perception anyway) But then, while gathering the courage sitting in a foxhole with bombs and gunfire and cold and snow, he mumbles a prayer:
Grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; to understand, than to be understood; or to love, than to be loved.
Once your partner feels that he/she is fully understood and you have that strong sense of where they are coming from, then explain with good intent, where you are coming from.
I have one more. And that’s it. I promise. APOLOGIZE! If you have done something hurtful, or that wasn’t a good thing, whether it was on purpose or not – if the outcome was hurtful, please apologize. And make it a good one. “I’m sorry that I hurt you. got hurt. Your feeling matter to me. I’m sorry that I was _________ to you. I love you.” Put your own spin on it. But validate that their feelings matter and that you are sorry.
Okay, happy Sunday evening everyone!
And thanks so much for reading my blog. Please feel free to leave comments. Maybe share with me some of the things you do to work through your difficulties so others can try them too!