Focus in Conflict

How often do you get into fights or arguments with your spouse?  Many times these disagreements are based upon a very short list of things that married couples fight about.  Typically they include money, sex, kids, and in-laws.  While people may hold very strong opposite beliefs about some of these topics, the way you communicate about them is at least, if not more important.  For example, if you and your spouse disagree about how to spend the money you have it can cause major strife.  However, if you are able to genuinely listen to each other, set aside judgment, and control your emotional responses they you can discuss your opposing beliefs and come to a rational compromise.  If you can’t do this, then you will probably continue to fight about the issue every time it comes up (which is likely to be often).  So, how do you go about resolving your communication difficulties?  The first step is to listen to your spouse while they are talking.  Most people think that they do this very well but that their spouse doesn’t have a clue how to do it.  As you can imagine, if both partners hold this belief, someone has to be wrong.  The reality is that both people usually have a problem in this area.  Ask yourself a couple of questions and after answering them, pay attention to how you do these things the next time you have a conflict with your spouse.  First, when talking/arguing with your spouse are you truly listening to what they say or are you trying to formulate in your mind what you are going to say next?  In this case, multi-tasking is impossible.  You cannot be 100% paying attention to what your spouse is saying and think about your response at the same time.  You might be about to give 50% to each endeavor but it will come across to your spouse and they will become frustrated and probably say something like, “you aren’t listen to me.”  Which is 50% true in the moment.  That is when the argument tends to disintegrate and head into a different direction.  Because you respond with, “yes I am listening.”  In saying that, the direction of the disagreement becomes the dysfunction in your communication style/practice rather than the finances. In that moment, you fail to hear what they are really saying, “I want 100% of your attention to hear me.”  Attempting to communicate this way will almost always lead to frustration and increased tension because you drifted away from the initial problem and are now focusing on a different topic.  While focusing on your difficulties associated with the topic of communication is important, it was not the original intention of the interaction.  So, stay on topic until it is resolved.


Challenge:  Every time you interact with your spouse, begin developing the habit of giving them 100% of your focus.  Practicing this in times of peace will make it easier to do in the midst of a disagreement.

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