“What do you mean, I DIDN’T CLEAN UP THE KITCHEN? Remember, it’s YOUR TURN! I cook – you clean, those are the rules. Don’t try and pawn this off on me. You’re the one who didn’t hold up your end of the bargain.” Sound Familiar?
Why is it when we have a conflict with our partner, it seems like there’s a wall between us. Nothing gets resolved, and we end up more frustrated than when we started.
4 Communication Walls that Will De-Rail Every Conflict
Trying to pin responsibility for what happened on the other person. Whose fault is it that such and such happened? Sounds just like six-year-olds…
It can be a go-to mode of communication between couples when there’s a lot of emotion, hurt and pain. If you’re using blame as a tactic, you’re actually just trying to deflect any personal accountability for what happened. You don’t want to be held responsible for what happened, so you BLAME it on someone else.
Who’s RIGHT and Who’s WRONG?
This wall is closely related to blaming. It doesn’t get you any closer to a solution but only rehashes each person’s point of view. Both people have their own valid reality, but it is subjective. It is their own acceptable personal view, but it’s not the same view as their spouse.
You wouldn’t be arguing if you didn’t think you were right, so this is a no winner on this merry-go-round style of communication.
What Really Happened?
Again – this is a personal view and completely subjective. Each of you will see the event or circumstances from their own point-of-view. Both views will be different. We see things differently because we had different upbringings, different experiences, and ultimately we have different (even if somewhat similar) worldviews. It could even be partly determined by how we slept the night before. There are so many variables on what really happened that there won’t ever be a time when two people will agree exactly on “what happened.”
What’s the Solution?
This may sound like a valuable conversation to have, however, the time to look for a solution is not in the middle of the conflict.
Really? I thought that’s why we were having this:
DISCUSSION – ARGUMENT – CONFLICT
Nope – You’re incorrect! That is not why you’re having this conversation.
You’re having this:
DISCUSSION – ARGUMENT – CONFLICT
Because there’s something deeper going on. Some desire or need that can only be discovered and dealt with if we dive a little deeper.
“You’re battling with each other because of unmet needs or desires.”
Maybe the argument is about not cleaning up the kitchen, or maybe the conflict is about spending too much money. But either of these may actually be about…
2 Better Ways to Communicate in Conflict
Respond and Validate
Stop and listen to your partner. Not just the words they are saying but the emotions behind the words.
By determining what the underlying issue is, you may be able to lean into that emotion of frustration or discouragement and hear what the real issue is. Then you can connect with your spouse at the heart level instead of continuing to circle around the situation of the moment.
Connect By Agreeing With Something They Have To Say
Find something, even a very small something that you can accept about what they are saying.
This Sounds Like:
“Yes, you’re right – I didn’t clean up the kitchen like we agreed.”
“I did spend more than we budgeted for…”
THEN STOP TALKING – LET YOUR SPOUSE RESPOND
Resist the temptation to use the words, “But I…” or “However, let me explain my side…” or “In my defense…” That one is my personal favorite. I want to jump right in and explain why I did what I did. Refer to Mandate above – STOP TALKING – LET YOUR SPOUSE RESPOND.
By finding something you can agree on about your partner’s complaint you help disarm the conflict and have a much better opportunity to hear their heart. You can dig a little deeper about the real desire or need that isn’t being met.
2 Positive Outcomes to Better Communication
- Your spouse feels heard and validated.
- Your spouse sees that you care about them and their feelings, not just winning the conflict.
Next time you’re having a disagreement, try responding with validation and agreeing with one thing they’ve said. Watch their heart open to your care and concern.
Let us know how things go when you try this different communication approach.