Marriage is wonderful, and sometimes it’s not.
Have you ever seen a tornado? In the movies or in person? It starts out at the bottom just a tiny circular sphere and then it gets bigger and bigger as it grows in height. I like to use this analogy in couples counseling. Each argument can circulate round and round and get bigger and wider and taller. Each couple has at least one tornado that keeps popping up year after year. Same tornado, different year. As the years go by it can escalate quickly. Why is that? Why are we still talking about this and having this issue after all these years? Sounds familiar?
How do you interact with each other?
Let’s start off by establishing that a relationship is how we interact with one another. That’s it. The kind of relationship you have depends on the kind of interaction you have. So if you have more negative interactions, you might describe your relationship as negative. We don’t always agree or see things the same way so sometimes getting your spouse to understand you can be a daunting task.
In the end, we want to be understood and respected even if our spouse doesn’t agree with us.
How can someone disagree but understand?
The first step to creating understanding is making sure that neither of you is hungry, tired or stressed. Next rate your tornado on a scale of 1-10. Ten is it’s a huge issue and one is very minor. If it’s a 2 we can probably deal with it right away. If it’s a 10, we make an appointment with our spouse to discuss the topic so both of us feel prepared.
Once we are in the right frame of mind and we have agreed that we are “seeking to understand” then we can:
1) Use “I Feel Because Statements”.
2) Reflect back what you spouse just said.
Spouse #1: I am feeling lonely in our relationship because we have been spending time with our friends instead of with one another.
Spouse #2: So what I understand you saying is that you feel lonely because we have been putting more time and energy into our friends instead of putting it into our relationship… is that right?
Spouse #1: Yes (sighs)…. I really want to feel more connected and close to one another.
Spouse #2: So you want to feel more connected, you feel that we are distant right now and not in tune with one another?
Spouse #1: Yes that is it, exactly!
Spouse #2: Well I am glad I understand you. I am not feeling disconnected with you but I am happy you told me your feelings, let’s brainstorm together some ideas how we can bring that connection back so you don’t’ feel so lonely.
Spouse #1: I’d really appreciate that. Thank you.
This interaction could have started with blaming, gotten defensive, and ended with complete distrust, a vulnerable disaster of a tornado.
When we take out blaming, own our feelings and come together with the intention to understand not necessarily to agree we tend to be able to come to an agreement on how to fix that tornado.