Last time we made these discoveries regarding couples engaging in great communication: (here are the Cliff Notes)
- Effective communication requires skills developed with practice and perfected through trial and error!
- Communication is real when there is win-win, and teamwork
- Effective communication is when we listen to and speak with the heart.
- We must allow the feelings of our spouse to “touch” us.
- Creating a sense of safety and openness builds trust in the relationship.
- The goal is to fully understand one another at the emotional level!
- Beginning communication with problem solving can be a waste of time
- We must learn to differentiate between issues and events
But there are attitudes and an understanding of relationships that must precede
these good skills of communication. Let’s take a step back and talk about Attitudes.
One of the most significant decisions we can make daily is our choice of attitude. Making a determined decision of your will to change your attitude definitely leads to a healthy mind. We control our attitude; we have the power to change it if we decide to.
- Decide what you will focus on. Will it be positive things or negative? Positive minds are full of hope and also more confidence. Be careful not to filter out the positive aspects of your partner by letting negative, repeated thoughts continue.
- Remember who you are and the gifts you have. Affirm yourself. Think of your strengths (everyone has them), remember the skills and abilities you have for positive change in your relationships.
- Consider gratitude. The “attitude of gratitude “creates a sense of openness, appreciation and kindness. Again, this is a choice to focus, either on what is missing in your life, or what you presently have. Try being grateful for the positive aspects of your partner and communication will become more open and team oriented.
Reality Living and Personal Responsibility
When we communicate with our spouse it is especially helpful to remember that we are responsible for ourselves! Our own thoughts determine our actions and emotions. We must take the focus off of our spouse and take personal responsibility for our actions and choices. In marriage, we impact one another’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors and beliefs, but we do not determine them. People who take PERSONAL responsibility and take care of themselves are better positioned to deal with relationship problems.
Gary Chapman in his book Desperate Marriages relates that Reality living means you take responsibility for YOUR OWN thoughts, feelings and actions! It requires you to appraise your life situation honestly and refuse to shift the blame for your unhappiness to others. Reality living says:
- I am responsible for my own attitude.
- My attitude affects my actions.
- I cannot change others, but I can influence others.
- My emotions DO NOT control my actions.
- Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I am a failure.
- Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world.
Don’t think about focusing on the other person. Challenge yourself to see yourself as a part of the problem and then to concentrate only on your own part. Then you can begin to take responsibility for your own actions and attitudes and for your words. See yourself objectively-“putting yourself in the picture.”
As long as we define the problem or the goal in terms of the other person, we will remain paralyzed. You and I will have no power to change anything. Instead of asking “how do I get them to change”, ask “What kind of person do I want to be?” “How can I choose to become the person God wants me to be?”
Instead of asking, “How do I get them to change”, ask
“What kind of person do I want to be?”
The greatest goal for all of us, with the highest likelihood of success is to become the person God created us to be. As long as you think of everything that’s going on as “outside of you”, out of your control or just your spouse’s issue, you remain a victim.
“How can I choose to become the person God wants me to be?”
Please don’t give anyone else the power to control your feelings. And don’t look to others to make you happy. It only takes one person to completely change the dynamic of a conversation. You can choose your thoughts and actions and take control of your own thoughts, feelings and reactions. You have the power to:
- Stop the cycle/chaos/madness
- Choose (change) your reaction
- Control your thoughts
- Take responsibility for your own “buttons” that can get pushed
- Take the focus off others and to put it on yourself
- Determine your own happiness: your wants/desires and fulfillment/satisfaction
- Take things to God
- Choose/change your expectations
- Be accountable to others
- Forgive and ask for forgiveness
So, what we’re saying is, that if you want to have effective communication so you are feeling close and connected, there are skills that can be developed. But the attitude toward your partner, yourself and the heart of the matter are the starting point of great communication and a thriving marriage.
What’s holding you back from having the right attitude about your spouse and yourself? Email us at Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com and let us know. We’d love to send you some additional info to help on your journey toward Great Communication and Thriving Marriage.