Thursday 9 July 2020

Addressing Issues:

Does He Care? Does She Care?
Avoiding necessary confrontations in a relationship will not take the issue away. Wishing does not solve marital issues nor, as a matter of fact, live issues as a whole. If there is an issue important enough for you, address it. Only do it in a spirit of love. For every issue that you need to address think of three (3) positive things, you can compliment your spouse for in a spirit of gratitude.

That helps to prepare your heart and keeps it soft in the course of the engagement. It reminds you and your spouse the very essence of having the conversation. For these to hold true the compliments must be sincere. You need to do the hard work of finding positive areas, even if it takes praying about it.

Next, you need to ensure your tone and usage of words are not accusatory. The intent of resolving issues is not to label. It is not to win a battle over each other. It is not to count a score, nor have one up against the other. It is to get rid of the fox that spoils the vine. It is to isolate the yeast, lest it leavens the whole lump. So, you want to put the focus where it belongs. You want to put it on the issue being addressed.

To do this effectively, the experts say, you need to avoid using "YOU" statements, lest it comes across as you judging your spouse. Rather, the focus should be on using "I" and "ME" statements, focusing on expressing how the issue makes you feel. And, hence a solicitation of your spouse's help in resolving the issue.

Let me give a personal example. All our kids are away in college now. So, we are what they call empty nesters. My wife is more conscious of our new reality and is seeing it as a prototype of retirement years to come. So, like the average woman, God bless their hearts, is reading more into this than there is to be read into it. This is more so because we are going through a particular season of life.

My being extra busy and not having all the time in the world with her are withdrawals from my Emotional Bank Account. The days I forget to wash my plate, forget to spread the towel, etc. are easy withdrawals. Some of these are things she would have hitherto overlooked, but the weight of the other things going on in this season is causing a redefinition for her.

So, she needs to address this issue with me. One thing she probably does not understand is I have been getting all the nonverbal communications on this issue. More especially being a therapist, I am conscious of these scenarios. However, you don't have to be a therapist to decode non-verbal communication. Hence, note what you are about to communicate not new to him/her. 

Hence the need for placarding the discussion. Remember what Maya Angelou taught us how to leave ourselves in the hearts and minds of others? Maya said, 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' The question is, "How do you want your spouse to feel leaving the discussion?"

So, my wife's approach should be statements like, "...when I see the unwashed plates in the kitchen sink it makes me feel... (cheap, used, etc.)." "...when I see the towel not spread out to dry, I feel...." Now, don't get me wrong I do some of these things. Just that being human and for whatever other reasons I forget sometimes. However, the average woman in a weakened state is more attuned to generalize. 

It is important to address issues rather than tucking them away. If it is an important issue to you tucking it away and refusing to address is simply postponing the evil day, while at the same time encouraging your spouse to make a monster of the issue. As John Marwood Cleese, an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer puts it, "I have several times made a poor choice by avoiding a necessary confrontation."

Don't forget we communicate with our person not just our lips. When you do not address the issue, you are in effect telling your spouse you have no issue with the way things are. Don't be surprised by your spouse becoming more of who brings distaste to you. If your spouse does that to some critical mass it becomes difficult to change. Don't blame anyone at this point. You created the monster you are having to deal with. 

I have seen people divorce from this kind of scenario. The divorce they were scared of in not addressing the issue at inception swept them off their feet when they least expected it.

Every healthy relationship is made up of three distinct personalities - you, we, and me. Each needs to have their own spelled out boundaries that are mutually acceptable to all, enhances the personalities, and do not usurp the rights of any of the personalities. The boundaries ought to answer the following basic questions, "who am I in this relationship?" Who are we in this relationship?" Who are you in this relationship?"

You both essentially bringing forward your individual boundaries as independent persons and creating a new one to bridge the two together. The bridging boundary is supposed to take care of any possible area of conflict, such as there is a clear pre-agreed plan on such issues. That way things are not left to chance, nor the pervading emotions. 

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