Marriage Repair

A Strong Team

Parenting well means being a strong force with your partner and being able to work together well. Here are some tips to getting along well with your spouse.

You know what I am talking about. He compliments another woman, she teases what you thought was your best skill, he digs at your flaws, she mocks your apperance. It often isn’t the big and obvious things that throw a wedge between our marriages and friendships but the subtle digs that when left unchecked grow in us like a dirty disease. They only matter to us because we care about the person.

It leaves us in quite the predicament.

Do we choose to address the matter and risk getting ridiculed further that we are over-reacting or denied the voice altogether by not being believed. Often with these reactions or fear of these responses we can feel paralysed, not sure how to bring forth the subject so we talk ourselves out of it or present it in an angry tone that is completely misread which adds further pain.

 

Even though I was angry and hurt over what I knew seemed a little thing, I knew the goal was closer intimacy

My Own Hot-Tempered Mess…


My own story with four conflict resolution steps.

 

My husband and I were sitting down to watch some TV.
“What shall we choose?”
“You pick” he replied as he walked out of the room to get us a cup of tea.
So I did. I picked my favourite speaker to listen to. It was all ready when he sat down to watch it with me. He looked at what I had chosen and groaned slightly.
“Have you checked how many views it is?”
“I don’t care how many views it is!” I stormed back, feeling anger bubbling up. Then he hung his head and drank his tea.
I was fuming. Hanging his head was a sign to me that he wasn’t going to talk about it. I did the most sensible thing I thought at the time, storm out of the room with a snarky,
“Watch what you like then, I’m going to bed”.
I walked out, turning off the lights as I went. As the anger gathered momentum I stood in the bathroom thinking. What was that Pastor John Ortberg saying when you’re angry with your spouse? Something about a four step process? I remembered the first one was to stop.

So I stopped.

I waited until my anger would calm enough to think clearly.
I knew there was a few questions I was meant to ask myself but I couldn’t quite remember all of them. The one I could remember was, “What is the goal here?”

Even though I was angry and hurt over what I knew seemed a little thing, I knew the goal was closer intimacy not a larger gap. I gave myself some time to think through the situation from a different perspective. From his side, from my side and from an outsiders side. I started thinking about what it was about the situation that upset me. Why was a reacting to this? Was this the only instance that I am upset about or are there other factors contributing?

I got myself into a clear thinking space. I realised that I wasn’t effectively communicating to my husband why I had chosen the program, how I wasn’t feeling appreciated during the day and how my desire was to be on the same page together.

I cautiously came out of the bathroom and into the bedroom where my husband had journeyed to while patiently waiting for me. By this time he was able to have thought about the situation too. We were both calm and ready to talk but I wanted to make sure,
“Can I talk to you?”
“Sure” he replied as he set down his book.
“So, I will give you a sandwich first because that’s what you like” I started. We’ve talked before how if I have something for him to work on, I need to start with something positive to encourage him first- that’s what the ‘sandwich’ is. I continued,
“I’ve really loved that over this week you have been so amazing at serving me. Each day you have brought me in coffees and made me breakfast as well as making me a lot of cups of tea. I am so grateful for you doing this it makes me feel special.” Even as I said it, a lot of my frustration melted. His reaction towards me became soft and attentive. It was tempting to stop there but I had to share my heart in order to heal.
“I haven’t however, felt very appreciated by you over the last few days as I have been working hard at doing fun activities with the girls and I feel like you have come in and complained about the mess. This has brought down the atmosphere and left me feeling like I’m more of a hassle than a helpful fun mum.” It felt odd bringing in hurt from the week but also helped to bring my point forth and was a vulnerable moment. It was vulnerable because it was something I had already talked to him about and he had dismissed it. Now in this intimate setting I was hoping for a different reaction. I took a breath and carried on.
“Tonight, I felt excited to share with you the speaker that I love so much so I can share with you part of me. I don’t care how many views he has  but this subject  was what was important to me as I thought this is a topic we often disagree on and I thought he may be able to help us come to a closer agreement and understanding. I just want to be closer to you.” There. That was my heart poured out on a plate waiting for his reply.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t realise. That makes a lot of sense. Now that you’ve explained it, I really want to watch it with you.”
I couldn’t believe it. Was that argument just finished in only 15 minutes? Usually something like this would be at least a few hours if not going to bed in a huff and a puff with the house nearly blown down.

The Tools That Got Me Through:

The next day I poured through John Ortburgs book* to get the exact details of his repairing steps. So simple, yet so effective as I had found out.

Stop!

I remembered that one as it’s a quick reminder to slow the anger down. It’s not saying how I am feeling is wrong, it’s just slowing down the snowball enough to think clearly. When we act straight out of our anger, we are acting out of our ‘fight or flight’ brain and unless it’s an emergency, it’s going to be unhelpful as I have often done. It leads to words I can’t take back and facial expressions that look ugly.

Ask.

Those three questions that I didn’t quite remember but were enough for me to think more clearly were,
-Why am I angry?
-What do I want?
-What is the goal?

Proceed with caution
Instead of erupting the scene with all our new insights (again- I’m guilty!), it’s respectfully entering into their space and making sure they are in the right head space for a chat. My husband likes me to add compliments and appreciation but I don’t enjoy him doing that to me first. For me I want all the gritty stuff out first and then you can shower me with blessings. It’s about knowing what your partner or friend prefers.

Pour out your heart

 Lay it all on the table and take that vulnerable step. Use ‘I’ statements and remember the ultimate goal is for intimacy.

 

I have found these steps invaluable as it grounds me, helps me to validate myself which in turn moves me forward with more clarity and a sound mind.
Conflict is inevidable, but through conflict we can find a greater intimacy that we never had before. The key is in the aftermath of repair as we push through the pain of hurt and seek reconsiliation.

 

*John Ortburg, 2017, ‘I’d like you more if you were more like me’.