Hello, Friends! Everything is changing so quickly in our world that every day is a new adventure. I wake up every morning wondering what impact the news will have on my life today. It is such a strange season. We are all under enormous stress and pressure as we face new challenges every single day. If you are like most couples, this stress is causing a lot of creating a lot of arguments. The little things that never bothered you suddenly escalate into significant disagreements and add anxiety to your life. Fighting over the small stuff is not helping you, or your family, get through this crisis.
You might be dreading your next call with your husband because the last three have ended with heated conversations.
Each of you are irritable, frustrated, and angry by the time you hang up. Then, over the next few hours, you begin to regret your harsh words. The desire to make amends and resolve the conflict dampens your anger. However, you find yourself getting mad all over again during your next call. You just want him to see it your way and then let it go! You want to win the argument by showing him that you are right, and he is being petty. Being right becomes more important than connecting to each other, and your relationship begins to flounder. You are living the Cycle of Self-Destruction. You will never win an argument this way.
Building the foundation for a healthy family takes a lot of effort.
You must be intentional about breaking old habits and creating new patterns. To really win an argument, the end result must be a deeper connection to each other. Otherwise, you only proved you were right. Being right doesn’t make relationships more resilient, it doesn’t foster trust, and it doesn’t make you happier on the other side of the disagreement. The first step is to change your definition of “win” when it comes to arguing with your husband. Proving you are right might feel good at the moment, but over time your insistence on being right will erode intimacy in your relationship. Winning means building a strong, healthy family that will stand the test of time.
If you really want to WIN, here is what you must do.
First, stop to breathe and think before you speak. Yes, your grandma was right when she told you to take 10 deep breaths before you talk. Give yourself some time to process your emotions and figure out what triggered the reaction you are having. Saying, “hmmm, I will have to think about that and get back to you,” will give you more time to consider the best way to respond.
Next, spend more time listening to understand rather than judge what your partner is saying. Consider what his experiences are that makes his perspective different from yours. I know from personal experience how much I have grown from making the decision to understand Ron’s view. Seeing the issue from another position will expand your awareness and help you respond in a way that builds trust and safety in your relationship.
Another essential strategy to win is to stay focused on only one issue at a time.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed when there are a lot of problems coming at you all at once. Slow down and focus on just one issue at a time, and it will be easier to self-regulate. Address and resolve one thing at a time, and you will discover that you can think, strategize, and problem-solve without losing your temper. Trying to solve multiple problems all at once does not work. Instead, it just increases stress and adds fuel to disagreements.
Finally, practice these principles consistently by taking turns talking and listening. Stop interrupting, wait your turn to speak, and share your perspective and concerns. Practice makes permanent. Once you begin to practice this new way of handling issues that arise (and you will always have issues!), you will need to be intentional. Breaking old habits is not easy, but it is so worth it. In the past, after a conflict with Ron, I would walk away feeling resentful, belittled, and more upset than before talking about the issue. Now, after a disagreement, I walk away feeling affirmed, loved, and more connected. It is so amazing how much changing my perspective on what “winning” really means improved our relationship. Walking through life together is an adventure and takes a lot of effort and commitment. Winning an argument means putting another brick in the foundation of your new legacy.
I am rooting for you!