Friday, January 11, 2013

How To Stop Arguing With Your Spouse

The Self Compass offers growth tools that really work for improving couples’ communication. The four compass points of the Self Compass (Love and Assertion, Weakness and Strength) provide the framework for a growing and healthy couples' relationship.

In a nutshell, when you utilize all four compass points for couples' communication, you:

Love: Act considerately
Assertion: Express self tactfully
Weakness: Own up to blowing it
Strength: Listen respectfully

On the Self Compass, it looks like this:

Couples' Communication Self Compass
Here are some pointers to help you utilize your whole Self Compass in couples' communication:

Love and Assertion:

  1. Avoid escalating a disagreement: restate it diplomatically in the here and now; agree where possible, and work toward a compromise.
  2. Get rid of putdowns or sarcastic remarks (that read as aggressive to the unconscious) that make a partner self-conscious.
  3. Instead, watch for ways to praise your partner, including around other people.  
  4. Avoid painting your partner in a negative light, because the unconscious will always remember it.
  5. Just as in car maintenance, keep your marriage well oiled and lubricated by a generous supply of basic kindness:  “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” “Excuse me.” “Good morning.” “Sleep well.” “How are you?” “I need you.” “I’m sorry.” “I love you!”

Strength and Weakness:

  1. Offer your opinion or preference with humility.
  2. Give each other the benefit of the doubt
  3. Assume you don't know everything.
  4. Warm up your spouse up to the communication you wish to have. 
  5. Realize that you experience things that your spouse has no way of knowing about, unless you tell them. Avoid the trap of believing that if a person really loves you, he or she will be able to read your mind
  6. The only tools available for communication and communion are words and body language. So whatever you want to say, especially if it has a strong emotional valence to it, break it to your partner gently.
  7. Avoid arguments and misunderstandings by willingly repeating whatever you’re trying to say in fresh new words. 
  8. It is only natural for couples to mishear a communication, or to take something personally and react defensively, instead of continuing the communication. 
  9. With practice you can learn to let your partner finish whatever they are trying to say without interrupting them, or short-circuiting the communication with an emotional reaction
  10. The more grace you extend to your partner, the more grace they become willing to extend to you. 
  11. Taking the time to humbly clarify any misunderstanding builds mutual goodwill.

And finally, bring God right into the center of your relationship. Couples need all the help they can get to develop creative caring, ongoing respect, and emotional intimacy. Hold hands together and pray out loud for God’s will in your relationship: “Dear God, please bring blessing and guidance in our couple’s life. Help us grow closer than ever through this. Thank you.”

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