By TERI M BETHEL
As long as two or more people come together in life there will be differences of opinions. Those differences more often than not lead to arguments. But they don’t have to. We act the way we do because of the information we’ve received. Our actions generally shift when there is a change of information.
Have you noticed that some adults have double standards when it comes to arguing? It’s an acceptable behaviour for them, but wrong for their children who are told not to argue. Instead, they are encouraged to work their issues out amicably. Many have heard their parents say, “Don’t do what I do, do what I tell you to do!”
Kids, however, learn to resolve conflicts just as they see the adults doing. So they raise their voices in anger, spew unkind words, have temper tantrums, and wield objects without restraint. The cycle then continues into adulthood which affects marriages as well as other relationships.
Love doesn’t leave emotional dents
Pretty often it’s not the problem that’s the problem, but how you choose to address the problem that makes the difference. Some couples claim to have a short fuse or that they’re passionate. So they raise their voices and flail their arms when communicating. Non-confrontational spouses take the abuse quietly while nursing their heartache from their overbearing partner.
Other couples claim that it’s important to fight fair as though their relationship is an authorized wrestling match. Did you know its possible not to fight or argue at all? In fact, disagreements do not have to turn in to arguments. Both people involved in the relationship have a right to express their opinions without being bullied. In any event, having ground rules for your disagreements before they happen would be helpful. That way you are less likely to do and say things to your spouse that would leave emotional dents.
No big rocks!
It’s not like when you were kids and you were having a rock war with your neighbours. Remember, you would set the terms of engagement like this: “OK, no big rocks!” But on the way back across the street to tell your team how the negotiations went, you got whacked in your back with a big rock. For your marriage or any other relationship to survive, you’ve got to have standards. Set communication guidelines and stick with it regardless of how high your passion rises. Call it establishing healthy rules of engagement.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. American evangelist Andrew Wommack says that opinions are like noses, most of them have at least two holes. Take the time to listen to your spouse before trying to put forth your point of view. Perhaps if there was twice as much listening as there was talking there would be less agitation. While you’re at it, practice good body language. Being two inches from your spouses face with a finger on the verge of entering their nostril is disrespectful and does not provide an atmosphere for a friendly conversation.
Can public shaming help your situation?
When you honour your spouse, that honor is not just when you feel like it; it should be constant. When you become annoyed, defuse that anger before it spirals out of control. It may require walking away from the conversation in a polite manner before you can speak calmly. This way you can navigate through the sensitive issues with a clear head and a respectful disposition.
Whether intentional or not, there are couples who wield their rocks in a public forum; they do so at family events, church, on social media or in office chatter, hoping to shame or discredit their spouse. This public shaming, however, says more about the character deficiency of the exposer than the exposed.
Keep private disagreements private
If you have children, how does this play out for them—are you by your example conditioning your children to be disrespectful to you and your mate, or their mates? Are you burdening them with too much information by drawing them into conversations that should be kept behind closed doors? Could your behaviour be what is affecting your children’s behavior at school or in their relationships?
As adults, our behaviour has a trickle-down effect that affects all levels of society. What we are behind closed doors will somehow show up despite all efforts to suppress them. We can sugar-coat our deficiencies or we can look them squarely in the eyes and address them. No-one has it all together so having to fix an area in our lives should be considered a routine course of action, and not a judgmental slap in the face. That’s just one way we can begin to stem the flow of abuse in our relationships.
But I’m not patient!
I’ve heard some people say, “But I’m not patient!” Yet they claim to love their spouse. Well, which one is it? Are you impatient or do you love them? You see the Bible tells us that, “love is patient”. So rather than letting a pesky little devil get between the two of you, why not learn how to stand together as one and drive it away from both of you. That way you can focus on having the best relationship yet. One that is free from constant bickering—one that causes you to build each other up rather than breaking yourselves down. You can learn to communicate in a loving manner if you really want to. Don’t you think it’s about time you begin to celebrate each other in this way?
• Teri M Bethel is an author as well as a publisher of books that seek to entertain, empower and promote healthy lifestyles for adults and children. Additionally, she provides a free online directory for local authors to showcase their family friendly books. Teri and her husband serve as marriage and family advisors for a local ministry. Visit her website, www.BooksByBethel.com, or e-mail her at: email@example.com.