Here are 7 guidelines for ways to address issues head on.
1. Choose times when you are calm.
If at all possible, look for times to address issues when you are both in a calm place. Handling conflict can be hard enough. Starting to address an issue when one or both of you are flooded is a sure-fire way to lead to a disastrous conversation. Being angry, upset and flooded leads to the fight or flight pattern.
Find a calm and loving way and time to introduce any complaints or issues.
2. Find ways to be alone and uninterrupted.
Turn off technology. Make sure that the children are or entertained. Agree to hang in with each other for a specified amount of time.
3. Begin complaints softly.
Make sure that you are calm yourself. Find ways to begin in loving ways and keep you tone and words to ones that say to your spouse “You are someone that I love very much.”
4. Hear each other out and really listen rather than building arguments.
It can be hard to listen to complaints fully rather than spend time building your argument. For effective communication, you must listen to your partner and really understand what they are saying before sharing your thoughts, opinions and differences.
5. If one of you becomes flooded, take a break but make a commitment to get back together.
When disagreeing, most people get flooded. Some are able to stay calmer longer than others; however, when one person becomes flooded, the other often does as well.
As hard as it may be, the wise thing to do is to take a break .. A time out … until both of you are calm and able to talk clearly about the issue.
6. Make a plan to get back together and talk again.
Experts say that it takes 30 days for a change to become a habit. Some plans also need to be changed or renegotiated. Plan to get back together and evaluate how well things are going when there is an issue on the table that needs to be addressed.
After the discussion, make sure to find ways to tell each other that you appreciate the conversation. Look for ways to connect that are positive and loving. Recognize that “winning” an argument is not worth losing the friendship.