Sunday, May 10, 2009

Communication: More on Making Changes

Learn to share your feelings without criticizing your partner. Do not attack the person, but objectify the problem.

For example, a wife is tired of doing the dishes every night by herself. She’s had a long day with the kids, rendering her totally exhausted. She’s had enough and irrationally screams at her husband, “I’m sick and tired of taking care of you and your kids! You never help me with anything around here! Why don’t you get off your lazy bum and do something?”

The wife would have been better off asking for her husband's help in a loving way, such as, “Honey, would you please help me with the dishes? I've had a long day and I'm tired,” instead of attacking him. Unfortunately, the harsh words seem to come after stress and exhaustion have already taken over.

If this wife waits until she is calm and not so tired, she could then sit down with her husband and discuss how overwhelmed she feels about all the work she has to do. Could he possibly help out with the dishes at night? She would greatly appreciate that. That way she’s not attacking him, but discussing what the real problem is.

Remind yourself, “ If this is really important to say to my spouse, it can wait until tomorrow when I’m rested and rational,” before you say something you may later regret.

Note to wives: The polite plea for help doesn’t always work the first time. Men often require numerous requests before they respond, especially if they are in the middle of doing something else. They don't always hear you the first time; they can only focus on one thing at a time. Keep on asking without getting agitated.

Most men don't see what needs to be done around the house unless you tell them. Be sure to praise your husband whenever you witness him cleaning up; he need lots of pats on the back.

Another example: when your wife doesn’t put your tools away as soon as you’d like, don’t say, “You never put my tools away when you use them.” (Never say never…) Instead, try “It bothers me when you don’t put my tools away because it makes extra work for me.”

It is essential to acknowledge each other’s emotions and discuss the issues that are important to each of you. Work at speaking honestly and sharing your true feelings. Sharing your feelings with your spouses is a deep form of intimacy, a great need for most women.

If your spouse says your words are offending them, don’t disregard it because you didn’t intend it that way. You may need to evaluate the words you use and your tone of voice. Your spouse may also need to investigate if there are any issues in their life causing them to be offended. We often spend too much time feeling offended by words that should be forgotten.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

You need to understand that you and your spouse will have some differences of opinions. Come to the agreement to disagree sometimes. It is only fair for you both to have the opportunity to state rationally what you feel, think, and desire.

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