Changing arguments into creative conflicts
It only takes one motivated person to change an argument into a creative conflict
- Be aware of your own physiology and emotional responses. On a scale of one to ten, how would your rate your emotional response? If it is an 8 or 9, it is time to take a break
- Take the focus off your spouse. The more anxiously focused you are on your spouse, the less able you are to mange yourself. Avoid pointing out what your partner is or is not doing.
- Be willing to set a time limit for difficult topics. Sometimes 10 or 20 minutes is the best anyone can do. Have respect for your physiology.
- Approach your partner with respect and curiosity. Ask real questions (that you don’t know the answer to already). If you are confused, say so. Ask for clarification.
- Behave out of a thoughtful, principled approach.
- Clarify your position while remaining connected to your spouse.
How to tell if you are becoming argumentative
1. You become reactive, angry and/or defensive. If you are angry and defensive you won’t be able to think clearly. Take a break (at least ½ hour) and try again when you have calmed down.
2. You set ultimatums. If you have set an ultimatum, you are focusing on your spouse’s behavior. Get in touch with your true position (i.e. what is the value, principle or ideal that you are acting on) and make it about you, not your spouse.
3. You are focusing on your partner’s need to change. If the only change you can see is the one your spouse has to make, then you are focusing on your partner. Taking a position is about you and about acting on your beliefs and principles and values. It is NOT about your spouse.
4. Your motivation is to get your partner to change. If your partner has to change, then you have not identified your position. This is not about figuring out a new tactic to change your spouse. This is about deciding to live your life authentically.
5. You can’t see what you need to change. Again, if you are measuring the results based on the behavior of your spouse, you will be caught in the same patterns you have already identified. Changing YOU within these patterns is the best goal to have. When you have done something differently, in order to grow you, then you will have succeeded regardless of the response of anyone else.