Granted, it is difficult to compromise in the heat of marital battle. It is often better to first take a time out, calm down and then communicate what is in your heart. The following communication tips will help:
Rose and John have been married for 17 years, and love each other, yet have been arguing about the same issue almost every night of those years: She likes it cold at night and he likes it warm in their house and bedroom. She had just opened their bedroom windows for the night. She heard John follow her and close all the windows when she left to visit the bathroom.
In many marriages, however, a problem such as this is not easily solved– it becomes “perpetual”– and attempting to “solve” it only creates anger and tension. For Rose and John, this unfortunately held true.
Let’s eavesdrop to see what we can learn about this fight and how best to handle it.
Rose: (to John) “I can’t sleep unless the windows are wide open. You know that, but you insist on closing them every night, so I’ll be miserable. You are inconsiderate and selfish.”
John: (to Rose):” This is my house too. You always get your way. No NORMAL person would want it this cold!”
What is the way out?
It depends on the specific marriage. For some couples, the solution would be a simple compromise of some sort; for example, buy a room thermometer and settle for temperature both could live with.
Why is a simple problem such as this not solvable for our couple and in many other marriages? It can be due to many reasons, but the usual culprits are:
( 1) Both are engaged in a “power” or “control” struggle. This means the fight isn’t about the issue anymore– it has to do with who will lose or win.
( 2) The temperature issue goes deeper and is emotionally tied to other personal or marital issues. If this holds true, the more pressure placed on the person to “change,” the more the person resists.
COMPROMISE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.
Let’s now imagine what Rose and John could have said that may have made a HUGE difference in their communication.
Rose (should have said something like):” I feel that I don’t have to endure this, although I also feel bad that you need to be uncomfortable. I tell myself that if you really loved me, you would want me to be comfortable too during the night.
I also ask myself why I have to always back down. I work hard throughout the day and deserve some consideration. All I’m requesting is a decent night’s sleep, but then, I wonder if I am being too selfish.”
John (should have said something like):” I do really love you and I want you to be comfortable, but it gets so cold in here at night for me that I can’t sleep.
We both want a good night’s sleep and would like to be in a position to continue sharing the same room. Let’s find a way to discuss it so it doesn’t make us so angry at each with each.”
This way, they are speaking from their hearts– combining empathy (seeing things from the viewpoint of the other) with assertive communication (honestly speaking your feelings and thoughts in a forthright manner).
It turns out that Rose literally panics if in a room without air flow, due to some issues from her childhood. Depriving her of fresh air flow literally makes her to struggle for breath.
Tip 1- Don’t only concentrate on the issue. Discuss your feelings, thoughts, and inner conflicts surrounding the issue. Explain what is going on in both your heart and your mind.
Tip 2- Look at how you communicate with one another ABOUT the issue. Pay attention to the process of communication.
Tip 3- Dispose off your desire to be right every time. Wise and successful married people have discovered that often it is preferable to be happy than to be right!
Tip 4- Convey to your partner that you love them enough to co-operate with them to work on the issue or problem.
How will you apply these tips to your own relationship?