Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Matrimony

Wow. I feel like I have been through a whirlwind the past 7 days. Maybe tomorrow I'll give you a glimpse at my week, but for today it's your weekly bit of [unsolicited] advice...

Tip of the week: Attack the problem, not the person.

Isn't it so easy to get sucked in to hurt feelings, emotional comments, and personal digs when in a conflict with your spouse? Everything that drives us crazy about our "Beloved" suddenly comes to the forefront of our minds and this seems like the perfect moment to share it with them.

Well, before we board that train (which is headed toward disaster) let's consider another option.

Whenever you notice frustration building in your heart over an issue, big or small, take note of it. Use a little self-control to stop and think it over before just verbally throwing up on your spouse. Try to identify exactly what the source of your frustration is, and isolate that one problem.

Then, get it on the table. Imagine yourself sitting on one side of your kitchen table and your spouse at the other. Set the problem right in the center of the table so that you can both look at it from all angles. When you put the problem in the center of the table, the issue is suddenly not your fault or your spouses fault. The focus of the conversation is not casting the blame. The focus becomes attacking the problem (and finding a workable solution).

Let me share an personal example where I totally blew it...

Last fall I really wanted to get some professional pictures taken of the boys but we didn't have money budgeted to do that. When I told Andy I was planning on getting some pictures made he asked which line item in our budget we were going to take the money from. I said, "I don't know." And he said, "Well then I don't think we should get professional pictures taken."

That's the point in the conversation where I should have thought, "How can we fix this problem in a way that we could both accomplish our goal?"

Instead, I got totally emotional and started saying that clearly Andy doesn't value capturing our boys' childhood the way that I do and virtually inferred that he doesn't love and value our family! Wow. Ridiculous. But that's how you get in a fight.

If I had had enough self-control to analyze the problem instead of attacking Andy, we would have found our solution a lot faster and saved a lot of hurt feelings in the process.

So, get your problem to the center of the table and attack the problem, not the person!


Adrienne said...

Oiy, I'm constantly struggling with this. I think Jerry and I are sometimes *too* brutally honest with each other and both need to work on attacking the problem, not person. Thanks for the reminder :).

Janelle said...

Great word, friend! Jackson and I have grown light years in our conflict resolution by doing this. It seems simple in theory, but when those emotions get involved... attacking the problem is solid advice to lean on.