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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fighting for Your Marriage


Marriage counselors and therapists are always talking about the importance of good communication skills. Without them, marriages tend to end up in dissatisfaction, discord and many times divorce court. Tonight we will look at communication and even the art of “healthy arguing” so you can live happily ever after.

We all know that communication is essential in a good marriage, but tell us about “healthy arguing.”
• All couples disagree. The important element is how you handle that disagreement
• Dr. Markman, the co-director of the Center for Marital and Family studies states that couples who argue are happier
• Markman those who criticize each other’s feelings, roll their eyes, are physically or emotionally abusive, are likely to end up in divorce court
• Markman makes no distinction between arguing, bickering, fighting or nagging—they are all ways of expressing disagreement that can lead to insults, silence or storming off.

What do the experts suggest as a means of healthy “disagreements?”
• Experts suggest the conflict resolution strategy related to “he said, she said”
• This technique is not about winning or dominating, it is focused on trying to “really hear and understand” what the other person is saying in a disagreement
• Keys include: setting a time period- say 15-30 minutes; flipping a coin to see who goes first. The first person states their opinion or feelings in 2-3 statements. Then the other person repeats back what they think they heard. The partners then reflect on the accuracy of the statements being heard and discussed. The focus is on hearing—NOT winning.
• Markman says in his book “Fighting for your marriage”, they focus isn’t on solutions or competing, but about being cooperative and really hearing what your partner has said

Are there other techniques you would suggest for those who tend to argue, scream or have heated arguments?
• Just talk. The issues won’t just go away unless you discuss it
• Don’t assume. You may have been in a relationship for a long time with your partner, but you don’t know everything they are thinking or feeling
• Flexibility is a strength. You can change your viewpoint and that doesn’t mean you lose
• Agree to disagree. It is not necessary that there is a winner and a loser. Sometimes we just don’t see things the way someone else views it
• Arguing in front of the children. Only argue in front of your children when you use these good discussion techniques to model healthy resolutions.
• Choose your words carefully. You can never take words back, so think before you speak- it might save your marriage

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