My husband and I's recent "blow-out" reminded me how far we've come in terms of "fighting in marriage". I thought this would be a perfect "Works For Me Wednesday" post. No, really, I am serious. My husband and I have grown in this area that I think it's worth sharing.
What works for us? It works to know your spouses' "fighting style". It is a key. Not desiring to "win the argument" but to "win over the conflict, to find a solution to the problem". This is part of the big umbrella of we have to know our spouses' "communication style".
So, what's our style?
Hubby "thinks out loud". He doesn't think before he says something. He says it so he can think about it.
I, on the other hand, "think before I speak". the problem is, sometimes I think too much, I don't speak.
Now.... put us together in a crisis situation and you can just imagine how our "thinking style" would clash. Let's take our recent fight for example....
All throughout the week I was thinking and brainstorming about my parents' situation (their being homesick and desire to go back home) . When I finally told my hubby (not by will or not in my perfect but because I had to), my husband started "thinking out loud". In the process, he started saying some things that "irritated me" or "offended me" and the conversation went downhill from there. Them we worked at "fighting fair" and the downward spiral went upward. It took us a day to work this out compared to weeks of crisis counseling we used to have after a fight.
In the early part of our marriage, I used to stuff everything, and when "conflicts" like this arose, I eventually would just "shut down". Now, that drove my husband up the wall. He can't stand that I don't answer his questions when we are arguing. It drives him insane. Then he starts asking more and louder and I would feel like I was being "badgered". Yeah, in my mind I would be saying "badgering your honor, badgering (ala L.A. Law)", but I won't speak it out. I would just be there in a catatonic mode which drives my husband insane even more. Then... then when I can't take it any longer .. I would BLOW UP! I would scream like I had never scream before. The first time I did that our whole cul-de-sac heard it. And if you know me in person, you now that I don't ever scream to a person (ok, except my kids). So the families in that cul-de-sac started praying for us!
So...to make this long story short ...after much counseling and marriage classes, we have learned that hubby needs to back off and not badger me when we are arguing but I need to speak and not shut down. When we're in a middle of a fight, one of us or both of us should keep in mind the other's fighting style and we should "give in" a bit by communicating in his or her style, the the "conflict cycle" will spiral up towards a solution instead of spiraling down to a dead end.
We still have "hot" arguments once in while, but not to the point that we have to call our dear marriage counselor (hi Karen :) in emergency. Oh, we've come a long way....
For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, go to Rocks in My Dryer.