Smart, healthy and functional marriages are important in nation building. The family units are the building blocks of the nation. A strong, happy and productive nation is a function of the marriages health status.First as we delve into this very important subject of marriage let me say that challenges are an integral component of life. What this knowledge should do, is to make us conscious that we will encounter challenges and more importantly be prepared for them. This mindset programmes us to be more astute and resilient. If well prepared most challenges will be averted. Yes so do not get an overdose of movies and novels, it is acting!
There are two kinds of marital conflict: solvable and unsolvable.Therefore, one must customize the coping mechanism to whether the conflict is at hand is solvable or not. 90% of marital conflicts are SOLVABLE! Imagine this! Very true. When I share this to couples they make faces in disbelief. The fundamentals are knowledge of one another. What is a woman? What are they made of? What are their characteristics? What are their needs? The same for men goes. There is indeed gross lack of knowledge of the other, and this is exacerbated by utter denial to learn, so we remain ignoramus in this aspect
I look at the creation of Man and understand that when Adam was created Eve was not there so there is noway she could have understood Adam. For Adam as we all know when Eve was created Adam was put into deep sleep. So they you are!So this is the dilemma that we find ourselves in. So the thing here is to acknowledge the ignorance then develop an open attitude to LEARN!
Unresolved challenges become obstacles, as instead of coping with the differences in the couple, the couple gets into a gridlock situation. With the gridlock, the four horsemen become more present, while humor and affection is on the decrease, and the couple begin living in parallel lives resulting the inevitable decline and death of the marriage.
To start with, programme your mind that these challenges will eventually be ironed out. I ask you to use your words carefully. Let us begin by erasing the word PROBLEMS from our dictionaries and replace by the word CHALLENGE. I trust you see the difference.
Signs of gridlock include:
- conflict makes you feel rejected by your partner;
- you keep on talking about it, but make no headways;
- you become entrenched in your positions and are unwilling to budge;
- when you discuss the topic, you feel more frustrated and hurt;
- your conversations about the problem are devoid of humor, amusement or affection;
- you become more unbudgeable over time, leading to mutual vilification during these conversations;
- the vilification leads to being further rooted in your position and polarized, more extreme in your views and less willing to compromise;
- eventually, you disengage from each other emotionally.
-gridlocks happen as the couple‟is entrenchment at a solvable problem allows conflict to influence more areas of their lives.
Like I said 90% of the challenges are SOLVABLE! I want this to sink well. Let go your Ego, be humble it is a strength. Understand the ego levels, know that the human being is primarily preoccupied with preserving the EGO- self preservation!
The basic tool for conflict transformation is
The explanation is for another session. Allow me to go beyond these.
SOLVABLE challenges have no underlying issues in them and are highly situational! They are less gut-wrenching, and are less INTENSIVE. Many couples find it difficult to solve these because of;
- Failure to communicate well
- Destructive competition
- External appraisal influence
- Low humility index
- Failure to protect one another
One solution piece is VALIDATION. This refers to giving high regard, valuing and acknowledge that the other part is worthy despite being in the challenge. We lose it and get it very wrong by demeaning our partners when we have a conflict. Unspeakable words……. Validation is not enough, especially as it is hard to apply when distressed. Here I share the key strategies;
1 soft and not harsh start-up;
- effective use of repair attempts;
- monitor your physiology during discussions for warning signs of flooding;
- learn how to compromise;
- become more tolerant of each other‟s imperfection
SOLVABLE challenges must not be left unresolved as this leads to compounding effect due to resentment kicking in, and thus entrenchment in their positions. If the conflict is about the entrenched resentment due to a situational/solvable issue, then it may be in the realm of unsolvable conflict.
EXERCISE: distinguish between perpetual and solvable issues in your marriage
Smart Marriage Coaching Tools :
- Assessing your marital conflicts questionnaire – asks about various marital issues, whether they are perpetual or solvable, and how the partners each enter to and deal with the conflict.
Exercise 1: „your last argument’: answering the questions [and then the couple comparing their answers]:
During this argument, I felt like _____ [list given]
What triggered these feelings? _____ [list given]
The recent argument was rooted in ______ [list given].
After self-soothing discuss one‟s own stress-maintaining thoughts/actions [list given] – the point is to make the partner‟s realize that it is not a unilateral situation where everything is merely the other‟s fault, but at least circular if not more complex.
My contribution to this mess was _____
How can I make it better next time?
What one thing can my partner do next time to avoid this argument?
We begin by administering the fondness and admiration‟ coaching tool first. The point of this is to accept the quirks and oddities of the partner that will not likely change, let alone because a messy or chronic argument. The key to all conflict resolution is basic acceptance of the partner‟s personality. Finding conciliatory comments within arguments are also important, when you know how to identify them. They are often more present than a partner may have realized – and could be discovered once one knows what to listen for. A judgmental/critical comment or even general great piece of advice will not be accepted before one feels fundamentally understood, liked and accepted. Just like in child development, acknowledging the other‟s hard emotions as well builds self-image and effective social skills.
-forgiving past faults of your partner is also important – grudges/bitterness at the spouse may wear at the relationship. Fondness and admiration must account for each partner‟s imperfections!
If a given disagreement is deemed solvable, then a couple has to do something different than unresolved arguments, screaming, yelling or angry silences. The classical advice of improving communication or suggestions of “ putting yourself in the others‟ shoes” does not work, because some people cannot. Nevertheless, those are not the essential components of happy and loving marriages. Instead conflict resolution were found to key to happy marriages:
1. Soften your startup-
Use the soften your start up please because arguments tend to end up in the same tonality that they start! Also, couples tend to divorce more because of distancing to avoid the fights then the actual fights. Women tend to be the ones with more harsh start-ups as they tend to be the ones who try to bring up and resolve issues, while men tend to avoid the arguments as their body reacts stronger than women to stress. Therefore, it is important to phrase the way you start your disagreement in a soft way. i.e. instead of saying “what‟s wrong with you? You never take the garbage out!”, you can say “I am sometimes so tired when I get home from work, can you please help me with the garbage?”.
There is a questionnaire which assess whether harsh startups is an issue for a couple. This questionnaire based on how the partner hears the requests of the other partner.
Exercise 1: soften startup: gives a harsh startup and the person is supposed to give a softer alternative. Suggestions on how to have soft-startups:
a. Complain – but do not blame
- make statements which start with “I” instead of “you” – i.e. speak of what the situation does to you, not what the other does. i.e. “you are reckless with money” sounds worse and more blaming than “I would like to save more”. “I think you are lazy” does not count, as the sentence starts with an “I” but defeats the purpose of getting to the underlying point in a palpable way.
- describe what is happening, do not judge or evaluate
- Be clear – your partner is not a mind-reader – i.e. “please change the baby‟s bottle and diaper” instead of “would you care for the baby for once”.
- Be appreciative- i.e. ground request in previously successful/correct action of the partner.
- Do not store things [negative emotions] up! – it will escalate in your mind.
Learn to make and receive repair attempts: good for when noticing that the
2. Secondly learn to make and receive repair attempts: good for when noticing that the discussion will end up the wrong way. The essence is that the repair attempts gets through to the other partner – not that the repair attempt is “elegant”. The repair attempts questionnaire: assess the effectiveness of repair attempts in your own relationship. Repair attempts could be missed if not sugarcoated. One should focus on “brake” attempts at the negativity-escalating situation. Humor is helpful as well as “announcing an upcoming repair attempt. Identifying potent repair statements is like megaphones to the repair attempts.
Esteemed members we will continue next Sunday on SOLVABLE challenges. There is a lot to apply so we can nourish our marriages. So meanwhile all MARRIAGES are improving. It is like a muscle in bodybuilding WORK on it. Whose responsibility is it to nourish the MARRIAGE????? BOTH OF YOU. Bring your partner to the group for the next presentation. Adios for now. You can make comments.
By Master Coach Duri