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What’s Your Problem?

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What’s Your Problem?

Arguing Is Futile Unless..
Ever had an argument with someone about something that you finally realized wasn’t even the real problem?

It’s tough to find solutions when you’re not even sure what the real problem is.

I wonder how many husbands and wives argue and fight over the wrong stuff – things they think are causing problems in their marriage  but really aren’t.

Arguing is futile unless you are dealing with the real issues at hand. When it comes to resolving marriage problems, we must know what the “real” problem is so we can direct our energies accordingly.

Resolving Marriage Problems
I kind of feel silly to say what I’m about to say because I know people are smart enough to know this stuff.

But I’ll say it anyway.

The first step to resolving marriage problems (or any problem for that matter) is to identify what the real problem is (I think I just heard the collective blogoshpere groan and say, “Well, duh!”).

Call me crazy for stating the obvious, but I think you might be surprised to know the number of  couples I’ve worked with who rush into problem-solving  mode without first wanting to take the time to fully realize what the true problem is.

Start At The Beginning
If you want to save yourself a whole lot of time and needless frustration, then don’t short circuit the conflict resolution process by making assumptions about what you think your spouse thinks about the situation. And don’t assume that he or she knows what you think about the situation either.

Start at the beginning.

Conflict Resolution Process
It’s easy to say “start at the beginning” but how do you this? Here’s a process that I recommend:

Step One: Agree with you spouse on a time when you can have a calm, and hopefully productive, conversation.

Step Two: Share your thoughts and feelings.

Step Three: Invite your spouse to share his or her thoughts and feelings. Listen to them intently. I mean really, really listen and do not interrupt them.

These first three steps are vitally important because they open the lines of communication and get you talking with one another, which sets the stage for step four.

Step Four: Ask each other to share what you perceive to be the problem(s). What problems do you see in your marriage? What kinds of thing do you argue about over and over again?

Realize that in many cases you’re probably only arguing about the symptoms.

So dig deeper to identify the real cause. Here are some questions to help you and your spouse get to the bottom of things:

  1. Is there a loss of meaningful communication?
  2. Do you feel you and your spouse are losing touch with each other? Are you drifting apart?
  3. Are you growing apart to the point where you’ve begun living two separate lives?
  4. Have you been disagreeing or arguing over:
  • Finances
  • Money
  • Careers
  • Kids
  • Friends or family?

5.  What do you think are the real reasons why you’ve been arguing over these things?

Fixing Your Marriage
You can fix your marriage. But you have to start talking “with” and not “at” your spouse.

You must agree to not point fingers or cast blame in these conversations with your spouse.

You can heal your relationship. All of the above issues can be worked through and resolved. All of them.

You can recapture the joy and happiness that you so desperately hope for again. But you have to talk with each other as friends and not as two people who are intentionally trying to hurt each other.

Also, it’s likely that you will need more than an hour or two to discuss things adequately. But that’s okay because time is on your side. So take all the time you need.

After you’ve taken all of the time you need to discuss the situation and have listened to each other, realize that it’s not enough to just “hear” each other. You have to take action or nothing changes. You need to move onto step five.

Step Five: Agree on the kind of marriage environment you desire and what you need to do together to create it.

After you’ve shared what you think the problems are and have acknowledged each others’ thoughts and feelings during the communication process, then you need to agree on what happens next – the solution – what you will do to restore your marriage.

Is the solution having more quality and quantity time together? More compromise? More demonstrations of affirmation and support? Helping each other out more with life’s demands? What solution will you implement?

Two People: Unity or Uniformity – A Word To The Wise
Please remember that you and your spouse are two distinct people. This means you see life differently, which also means that your hopes, wishes and goals are unique.

What is ideal for you might not be ideal for your spouse. So strive for unity without uniformity.

Negotiate. Compromise. And lovingly accept your spouse for the wonderful person he or she is. This attitude and spirit will work wonders for your marriage.

In summary, here are the conflict resolution steps we’ve discussed today:

  • Assess the real problem (s)
  • Acknowledge each other’s thoughts and feelings
  • Identify challenges and difficulties
  • Agree on goals
  • Compromise on solutions
  • Create the marriage environment you desire

Get to the heart of the matter with these first steps so that restoration and healing can begin. Get back to being mad about marriage again instead of being just mad.

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