I have been thinking this week a lot about why arguments occur in relationships.
I had a client talk about how he could not understand what his wife was saying.
He said, “I keep misunderstanding what she is saying”.
I explained that we all have an English dictionary; however, we all interpret the exact words differently.
As children, we create different meanings for the same word.
How do you fix this?
Repeat back to your partner what they have said!
Listen to your partner, then say…
“What you are saying is …” and repeat back what they have said to you. Then say, ‘Is this correct?’
You ask them if you have interpreted them correctly and if this is what they mean.
This takes 1-2 minutes but could save you hours, perhaps even days of arguing.
This one tip alone can dissolve tension and conflict because, more often than not, in relationships, it is not that you don’t love each other, it is that you misunderstand each other.
It is because we can take what the other person is saying out of context or apply our lens to the situation.
For example, when you were 5, your Mum said something to you using a particular word, and now that word may always have a connotation and trigger for you even if the other person’s intentions are good.
Here is another quick exercise that is valuable for your communication (write down the answer to each question):
- What words trigger me?
- What actions trigger me?
- What statements, words or actions have a significant emotional reaction for me (even though perhaps they shouldn’t)?
- How could I choose to react differently?
Examining how you are showing up in your relationship is essential.
The first step is always bringing awareness to what you are currently doing and then shifting it when required.
If certain words trigger you, know that when you hear them, you could deep breathe, restate to yourself that the person does not mean to start you (it is a past emotion/memory or trauma trapped in your body) and then choose to react calmly.
Of course, this is easier said than done but keep practising, and you will get there.
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*This information is for informational purposes only and is not advice or intended to treat or diagnose medical/mental health issues.