I am constantly surprised by how little couples really talk about what really matters. Couples all say they wish they could ‘communicate’ better.
But couples don’t always know how to talk about the deeper heart issues, what really matters. Some couples fill their evenings with polite nice-a-ties or sweep hot topics under the rug in exchange for small talk.
Or couples argue about who said what, when, and how, and miss all together what the argument was really about.
As one husband said the other week during a Safe Haven Intensive,
“We sure do talk a lot, but it seems we argue about the details rather than talk about what we really want understood. We argue and try convince each other of who is right or wrong, but we don’t have conversations.”
What topics do you and your spouse avoid talking about?
What topics are embarrassing, too personal, scary, risky or perceived to be off limits?
What topics have become ‘triggers’ and so to not spoil the weekend, you choose to stay away from talking about it. You might argue about money, sex, kids, the in-laws, who does what chore or how free time is spent. But do you really share your deeper thoughts, values, fears, feelings or ideas about those topics?
Don’t worry, you are not alone, most couples have difficulty engaging in deep conversations about their hot topics. Why? Good question.
Why do you avoid having good honest clear conversations about the hot topics in your marriage? Maybe it is fear, we fear being rejected or fear getting stuck on opposite sides of the argument and not know how to repair.
Maybe we don’t know how to identify our deeper feelings, and if we did figure them out we lack the courage to share them. Maybe we feel hopeless, fear we won’t be heard or understood and only make our spouse angry, so why try.
Do you ever find yourself avoiding the deeper conversations?
1. Slow down! When you find yourself arguing about who did what when, stop and ask yourself? Am I really trying to decide the details of who did what or is there a more meaningful conversation I am trying to have with my spouse?
2. What do you really want to share? Try figure out what you are really trying to say to your spouse. What do you feel about the core issues you argue over? What are your values and beliefs and longings around intimacy, disciplining children, money and family? You have to figure out what you are really feeling (besides anger) to know what to share with your spouse.
3. Why? Figure out why it is difficult, uncomfortable, shaming or fearful about sitting down with your spouse, looking them in the eye and sharing your ‘softer side’ or deeper feelings about the topic. What is uncomfortable? What do you fear? What is embarrassing? Why do you feel what you have to say is trivial?
4. Risk! Yes, risk to have the difficult conversation. Risk to ask your spouse about the finances, or to ask for what you prefer during intimacy. Risk to share how you feel when your wife is yelling at the kids, or what it feels like when your husband is over friendly with a co-worker.
5. Repair! If you stumble over your words, say the wrong thing and your spouse is offended, empathize with your spouse and ask if you can try again to say in a different way what you really want your spouse to understand.
6. Remind! Remind your spouse that you really do care about them, your intention is not to hurt, but to share so to be closer. Let your spouse know that having a heart to heart conversation is just as difficult for you as it is for them.
The next time you find yourself changing the topic, walking away, or arguing about details of who said what when, stop and get to the heart of what might be really important to talk about.
Learn to understand what you and your spouse’s dragons are and why it is difficult for you to talk about the deep stuff, join our webinar on October 18, 2018 at 10 a.m. PST (don’t worry, sign up and you’ll have 24 hours to watch it with your spouse).
I will review the building blocks of what makes a marriage a safe haven.
I will walk you through step by step to chart out your argument cycle and understand a bit of how you protect your softer side and how you react in an attempt to be heard or understood. It will be a very productive conversation.
If you and your spouse are stuck, please consider coming for a Safe Haven Intensive. We will be having a few spots available in 2019 at a reduced rate with our very own Safe Haven associate.
Be sure to get on the calendar for 2019, spots are going fast. Don’t go into the new year with a disconnected marriage.