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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not new to Talk about Marriage; was on here years ago, but haven't posted in a while. Hello everyone and happy new year!

I wanted to check with the group to get some tips and strategies for communicating better with my wife. I won't go into all of our marital history, but we've been married for 13 years. This is my second marriage and her first.

For the past 13 years, it seems that we're just not able to communicate well with each other. We've definitely got the Mars/Venus thing working against us, but it also seems like there are more subtle dynamics at play that invisibly sabotage our best attempts at communication, understanding, and empathy. While I am very much on the cerebral/analytical end of the spectrum, she is definitely on the emotional/feelings end. That has its own challenges, but it seems that despite our best efforts and desires we just simply cannot seem to gel when it comes to communicating with each other. There is always an argument sitting just below the surface awaiting a spark to tap off the powder keg and get the whole sick-cycle carrousel spun up again.

What prompted my reaching out to this forum again is that yesterday, in the middle of yet another argument, she said that she cannot physically handle my "grilling" her for a resolution when we argue. She said that she gets mentally and physically drained (she does have adrenal deficiencies) and the arguments literally wipe her out. She said that I should--as a caring husband--understand her conditions and back off the argument. While I don't see myself as "grilling" her, I definitely want to hear what she is saying and be sensitive the impact I may be having. Yet, while I agree on the one hand (i.e. I get that arguments can be mentally/physically draining), it sounds like a one-sided ultimatum that only takes into account her needs and wants. After 13 years of arguing I'm at the place where I'm ready to lay down and not argue ever again--but I know that's not a real answer!

Questions:
1. Is there a right way and wrong way to argue? (Apparently, I have proven strategies for doing it the wrong way!)
2. How much does/should physical/mental capacity factor into marital communications--particularly arguments?
3. If a "pause" is introduced in an argument, how do you reengage?
4. How do you move past the "funk" after an argument when you're ready to move on?

Thanks in advance for the feedback!

--Cy
 

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Try writing each other a letter saying what each of you perceive to be the problem and what you feel can be done to alleviate the situation. Just laying down and not arguing back will only build resentment in the future and is a recipe for disaster.
 

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"After 13 years of arguing I'm at the place where I'm ready to lay down and not argue ever again--but I know that's not a real answer!"

Since you are the stronger one in the marriage that is your answer. Stop arguing about everything. Pick your battles. Fight over "only" the most important stuff. By the way, most stuff is not that important.
Who says you have to win every argument. I know the analytical and cerebral side of you says you must. Many women fight with their hearts not their minds. You will never out-logic them. Let her vent. Life will be so much easier. Do not try to "fix" everything she says or does or feels. That is not what women "need".
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Since you are the stronger one in the marriage that is your answer. Stop arguing about everything. Pick your battles. Fight over "only" the most important stuff. By the way, most stuff is not that important.
I wholeheartedly agree, picking the battles and only arguing over what's important is a great approach. However, 95% or better of all of our arguments are because of what she is upset about, not because of things I bring up. It plays out something like this: 1) We need to talk; 2) She tells me what she's upset about; 3) I share my thoughts or opinions about it; 4) Then, because my thoughts/opinions rarely match what she is thinking/feeling it spins off into an argument and she tells me that I'm not communicating or listening to her or validating her feelings.

My trying to find a resolution isn't about winning the argument, as much as it is about helping her work through what she's upset about. It was obviously enough that she felt she needed to bring it to my attention. Is it just to let me know about it like an FYI or is she also wanting some kind of resolution? That's where I get confused about what the objective is? Is it just to listen or comment and engage!?
 

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I suggest you don't argue. What you should do is to try to reach a mutual understanding on what the issue may be. To do this it is helpful to rephrase you understanding of what her position is until she agrees that you understand her heelings and point of view. Likewise encourage her to understand your point of view without judgement of the view.

Usually people argue to establish who is right and who is wrong. This developes and reinforces judgemental views on many things and the roles in marriage. Seek not to establish right or wrong but understanding of the topic in question. Once each understands where each other is coming from its easier to determine a solution or compromise.

This is hard to do at first because we often have strong opinions of why spouses do or say things. What helped me break the cycle of toxic assumptions was to assume the best of my spouses intentions not the worst as I had been in the habit of doing. I would ask questions in a benign way to understand her intent such as did you mean this "...". After awhile she realized I was genuinely interested in what she meant to move forward and not to attack or berate. It took a long time to build up the trust that I was not out to desparage or criticise but to understand and resolve conflict mutually.
 

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Hard to say without really knowing the topic of the argument, but one suggestion I will make is after step 2 to reword and repeat back what she said to you and ask if you heard that right. So often, we make assumptions about what our partners are saying without really hearing them in the first place. Then I would ask if she wants my feedback or is just venting. I do this a lot with female friends btw. I have lots of great ideas for my friends lives, but if they aren't in a place to hear it, I keep my mouth shut. No need for unnecessary drama in my opinion.
 

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I wholeheartedly agree, picking the battles and only arguing over what's important is a great approach. However, 95% or better of all of our arguments are because of what she is upset about, not because of things I bring up. It plays out something like this: 1) We need to talk; 2) She tells me what she's upset about; 3) I share my thoughts or opinions about it; 4) Then, because my thoughts/opinions rarely match what she is thinking/feeling it spins off into an argument and she tells me that I'm not communicating or listening to her or validating her feelings.

My trying to find a resolution isn't about winning the argument, as much as it is about helping her work through what she's upset about. It was obviously enough that she felt she needed to bring it to my attention. Is it just to let me know about it like an FYI or is she also wanting some kind of resolution? That's where I get confused about what the objective is? Is it just to listen or comment and engage!?
I agree you are not communicating. I suspect that the goals in your communication are mismatched. This contributes to your disconnect.

The thing about feelings is you can't argue about them. If she feels a certain way, she feels that way. Your job in this instance is to listen and reassure. If she has perceived something wrong validate that she feels the way she does first but then explain what you were hoping you would make her feel by what you were doing.

I get that (A) made you feel this way and I am sorry for that. But you need to understand that I did (A) because I was trying to work on (B). I was hoping that would make you feel (C). How do you think I can make you feel (C) and work on (B) at the same time.


If you don't get it then

I don't get that (A) made you feel this way, please help me understand why that is? Tell me exactly what you thought I was saying or doing to you from your point of view. Then LISTEN to her, don't fight just accept that this is how she FEELS it doesn't mean you did it, just that she feels it. Now address her feelings first and then try to explain why you did what you did. Then it's onto How do you think we can get to (B) without making you feel like (A).

Hope you can follow that. It's hard to explain written out.

[This takes some vulnerability but we are men, we are more emotionally harder, that is built in us. I believe we being less tied to our emotion is precisely for this reason. It's like a animals fur, in a way we have and emotional protection so we can be a little more emotionally vulnerable for our wives and it is less risk.]

One way to even add to this is when you are talking about how you tried to do something that she didn't understand, is to then point out how that make YOU feel but in a vulnerable way. In a "I love you and this hurts me" way not in a "Look how much you hurt me!" way.

I really was trying to do (B), then you told me it made you feel (A). This crushes me because I want so much to help you feel (C).

Again this is hard to do, but this is how true communication and bonding in marriage works. Hopefully if both your motives are pure you will grow and learn how to communicate using these techniques. You will learn how actions that would never make you feel a certain way affect your spouse differently. This will give you a better way to accomplish your goals.

The idea being that yes you are more of the problem solver but sometimes your role as a husband is to be an emotional provider. She probably doesn't feel safe emotionally to argue with you because you are trying to problem solve and she wants you to get that you are hurting her. This is equally frustrating for you as you are not solving problems.

Someone has to take the first step. You are her husband and you want to protect her, that is in your nature. Do that by controlling your emotions and making your first discussions about her feelings and then trying to solve the problems.

Finally all of this is predicated on the idea that we are not talking about abusive actions but just the typical misunderstandings and arguments that happen in marriage. If she is hanging out with strange men for instance I take everything I wrote back.
 

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"Is it just to let me know about it like an FYI or is she also wanting some kind of resolution? That's where I get confused about what the objective is? Is it just to listen or comment and engage!?"

I was going to advise you to have a discussion about how you argue and if she could answer your question above. But really, I think that may lead to an argument and you could probably change the dynamic yourself. Next time she comes to you with an issue, you first address her feelings ("It sounds really frustrating" or whatever) and then say, do you want my two cents or do you have this figured out? Want a hug?

It might work. Have you read the Mars/Venus book? This sounds like a perfect example based on the book. It tells you how to address various issues/conversations. How to meet her communication needs, and how to present your own communication needs.
 

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Research "active listening."

Don't left her off the hook though. Any relationship must have a foundation of respect and it must flow both ways.
 

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Regarding the fine art of argumentation, I agree with those who advocate taking a more passive and calmer approach, but only after having correctly picked your battle!

There is a right time for taking a prosecutorial approach and that is only after your spouse has either cheated on you or has committed some kind of an egregious crime! Or has out and out accused you of the same!

Otherwise, and with rare exception, "silence is golden!"
 

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I wholeheartedly agree, picking the battles and only arguing over what's important is a great approach. However, 95% or better of all of our arguments are because of what she is upset about, not because of things I bring up. It plays out something like this: 1) We need to talk; 2) She tells me what she's upset about; 3) I share my thoughts or opinions about it; 4) Then, because my thoughts/opinions rarely match what she is thinking/feeling it spins off into an argument and she tells me that I'm not communicating or listening to her or validating her feelings.

My trying to find a resolution isn't about winning the argument, as much as it is about helping her work through what she's upset about. It was obviously enough that she felt she needed to bring it to my attention. Is it just to let me know about it like an FYI or is she also wanting some kind of resolution? That's where I get confused about what the objective is? Is it just to listen or comment and engage!?
Note the bolded above. Stare at it, press your face against the LCD screen. Let those bolded words first etch into your skin, tatoo-like, then for this virtual ink to transdermally enter your bloodstream, straight into the learning portions of your grey matter.

My "repeated" words are KEY. Stop trying to FIX THINGS for her. Stop trying to show HER where she is not thinking "correctly", or what she is viewing, is being viewed "incorrectly". You may be correct logically. She is not asking for logic. Repeat, she is not asking for logic. She is asking for your acquiescence, for your compassion. She wants you to have her back. It is so simple, yet for men it is so hard to fathom.

By showing her where her thinking and response is wrong or not logical, you are telling her that she is stupid and that you do not care about her feelings. Men from Mars women from Venus stuff. Not all women are like this. Yours' is.

Are we on the same page? Do not say yes and then start telling us that you are not trying to fix her problems by pointing out the logical missteps of hers. Again.

Nod your head. Nod your head at her and say, "Yes Dear, you are right. You did right and you did say the right things". She will then ask you, "What do you mean?" Make sure you were listening and that you can burp back everything she said "verbatim".

This is the key to a happy marriage. This is the price of unending kisses and puzzy.
 

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I'm not new to Talk about Marriage; was on here years ago, but haven't posted in a while. Hello everyone and happy new year!

I wanted to check with the group to get some tips and strategies for communicating better with my wife. I won't go into all of our marital history, but we've been married for 13 years. This is my second marriage and her first.

For the past 13 years, it seems that we're just not able to communicate well with each other. We've definitely got the Mars/Venus thing working against us, but it also seems like there are more subtle dynamics at play that invisibly sabotage our best attempts at communication, understanding, and empathy. While I am very much on the cerebral/analytical end of the spectrum, she is definitely on the emotional/feelings end. That has its own challenges, but it seems that despite our best efforts and desires we just simply cannot seem to gel when it comes to communicating with each other. There is always an argument sitting just below the surface awaiting a spark to tap off the powder keg and get the whole sick-cycle carrousel spun up again.

What prompted my reaching out to this forum again is that yesterday, in the middle of yet another argument, she said that she cannot physically handle my "grilling" her for a resolution when we argue. She said that she gets mentally and physically drained (she does have adrenal deficiencies) and the arguments literally wipe her out. She said that I should--as a caring husband--understand her conditions and back off the argument. While I don't see myself as "grilling" her, I definitely want to hear what she is saying and be sensitive the impact I may be having. Yet, while I agree on the one hand (i.e. I get that arguments can be mentally/physically draining), it sounds like a one-sided ultimatum that only takes into account her needs and wants. After 13 years of arguing I'm at the place where I'm ready to lay down and not argue ever again--but I know that's not a real answer!

Questions:
1. Is there a right way and wrong way to argue? (Apparently, I have proven strategies for doing it the wrong way!)
2. How much does/should physical/mental capacity factor into marital communications--particularly arguments?
3. If a "pause" is introduced in an argument, how do you reengage?
4. How do you move past the "funk" after an argument when you're ready to move on?

Thanks in advance for the feedback!

--Cy

Hello Cy,

The bold that I pointed out. Yes, arguing for some is very mentally and physically exhausting(with or without a medical condition) . Specifically when the other who is in the argument has locked horns and refuses to go to a neutral corner. It also appears you continue to argue to win the argument at all costs. That in itself is a issue.

I have been married for 21 years. Over the course of those 21 years my W and I have argued to a point of exhaustion. Both always wanting to win. Often my W will simply shut down. At that juncture it is time for neutral corners to regroup, ponder the argument and resume when both are ready. This could take a day or two. It is at that time we both come back to the table with clearer heads, clear understanding of what we want to say(present our case) and make it work for both involved.

As some stated:
1. Choose your battles. 99% of the time most things are just not worth arguing about.
2. Sit quietly and allow your W to say what she has to say in full. No interruptions. No, but, but, but....and wanting to break into your W train of thought.
3. Your W must do the same as well.
4. If it appears both are not getting anywhere with the argument time for neutral corners.
5. If anger is starting to increase as well as the volume of your voices, time for neutral corners.


Getting past the funk, there is no funk if the issue is resolved. To me, the funk means the issue has been carpet swept. As far as the pause(neutral corners), I find I have to wait for my W to re-engage when she is darn good and ready. In my case, it does not take long. Usually by then I have had time to think about my W side of the argument. Eventually she will talk(are send me a email where she can get her thoughts together). I can read and digest said email. We come to an agreement, iron out the issue and move on.
 

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She's not a virtual woman, she's a real woman giving you advice via a virtual media.

Do you call your wife a "phone girl" when you call her up and talk to her?
She needs to be Virtual to be Virtuous on this Blog. Remember @deidre s warning.

Besides, I have never "seen her" in the real world. That "Her" is a figment of my imagination, hence virtual. Yes, "Her" words are written by a real person. Nice words, they be.
 

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Just some thoughts on Communication over all.....

COMMUNICATION: ?YOU? V/S ?I? STATEMENTS

Both the Logical and the Emotional are important, one is not better over the other...though both of you may have to push yourselves to "step into the other's shoes" to find more common ground..



Be careful your arguing dynamic is not "Hostile".. learn the varying "fighting styles" here: http://talkaboutmarriage.com/genera...ead-4-types-5-1-ratio-marriage-conflicts.html

I thought this was a great write up on Communication... PLANTING THE SEED OF INTERDEPENDENCE

So often, when individuals take the first step to working on their relationships in therapy, though the issues at hand may seem very different, the end goal is the same: Interdependence. At heart, the couples we see in therapy want a deep, close, genuine, caring connection. The problem is that their own issues and emotional pain are getting in the way of their ability to grow and to work on their relationship.

At Imagine Hope Counseling Group, we teach and emphasize the importance of interdependence in the recovery process for healthy, intimate relationships. So what exactly is “interdependence”? Webster’s Dictionary defines the prefix inter as: 1. Between; 2. Reciprocally carried on or occurring between; 4. Between the limits of. Dependence is defined as: 1. One that is relied upon. Our definition of interdependence is that of two whole people who are capable of giving, being vulnerable and connected. It is what everyone wants, but very few people have! Truly interdependent couples are very precious, and devote time and hard work in their personal recovery and in their marriage. Much like the roots of a tree, interdependence allows a relationship to thrive and grow stronger and healthier. Even trees, however, start out as a seed. Just as the seed needs many things in order to survive and grow, so do our relationships with others. We believe that the following characteristics describe interdependence very well:

1. Interdependent couples accept the need for them to change and take ownership of their own issues. They do not blame their partner or others for their problems, nor do they assume the role of a victim. Interdependent couples are able to realize what their issues are on an individual level, and are dedicated and motivated to working through their issues, regardless of what their partner has chosen to do. They recognize when their issues are being brought into the marriage, and are dedicated to their own growth and recovery.

2. Interdependent couples don’t give up their own identity. They recognize the importance of having and maintaining their own identity outside of the marriage, in addition to their identity as a couple. I view interdependent relationships as having a “me”, “you”, and “us”. I like to think of interdependence like the concept of fire. In order for fire to burn, it must have the right amount of oxygen to survive. Without oxygen, the fire will burn out. Much the same in relationships, when one person “becomes” the other person, the relationship does not get the oxygen it needs in order to survive and the fire will go out. We call this term enmeshment. On the same note, with too much oxygen, the fire will burn out of control. In relationships, when people become disconnected emotionally and there is too much distance between them, we term this “cut-off”. Interdependent couples are able to celebrate their individuality and uniqueness, without “becoming” the other person, or taking on the other person’s feelings. They feel confident to express their own opinions, without sacrificing their own sense of self for another person. At the same time, however, they are able to compromise in the relationship and are sensitive to the other person’s needs without compromising their own values and self-worth.

3. Interdependent couples are able to confront and criticize their partner in a non-judgmental, healthy, and non-blaming manner, without rage and without shaming. They also step up to the plate in accepting their own role in the marital conflict, accepting constructive criticism without becoming defensive or reactive. Because they are able to accept their own flaws, their own need for change, and work on their own issues, interdependent couples are fully accepting of each other, including their flaws! It is much like each partner is holding up a mirror to the other. This mirror allows the partner to see both strengths and weaknesses, which can be seen as an opportunity for growth as opposed to a passive-aggressive way of hurting the other person.

4. Interdependent couples are not enablers, and set good boundaries and limits in their relationships. They do not enable nor do they invite hurtful, dysfunctional, and unhealthy behavior to continue in their partner or relationship. Through the continual process of recognizing and working on their own issues, as well as having a voice in their relationships, they share mutual respect with each other. When they do not feel respected, they are able to voice their feelings in a genuine manner. By setting good boundaries and limits with others, interdependent individuals hold others accountable for their actions. They do not assume responsibility for, rescue, or make excuses for the other person’s unhealthy behavior. As they continue to work on their own growth and recovery, they are confident in letting go of unhealthy and destructive behaviors in their life.

5. Interdependent couples fight! They fight in a healthy way and do not fear or avoid healthy conflict and uncomfortable feelings in their marriage. Because they are able to express their genuine feelings when they occur, they are able to show anger in a healthy way, without rage. When they do show their feelings in an unhealthy manner, they are able to recognize their relapse, realize what deeper issues have been touched, and forgive themselves without spiraling in shame. They are also able to forgive their partners for their mistakes. Interdependent couples recognize that to deny feelings is to deny who we truly are. They accept that the full range of emotion is to be real. They know that without expressing genuine emotion, the feelings will run their lives and take over in the form of addictions or other counterproductive and unhealthy behaviors.

6. Interdependent couples have healthy communication, with deep connection and intimate sharing. Because they are consistently working on healing their emotional wounds and confronting their emotional pain, they feel free to communicate and show others their real self. Commitment to working on their relationship is a priority. They commit to therapy and individual growth in their recovery. They trust the process of healing, trusting their ability to feel their pain, work through their issues, and follow through with their individual and marriage counseling appointments.
 

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Questions:
1. Is there a right way and wrong way to argue? (Apparently, I have proven strategies for doing it the wrong way!)
There are definitely wrong ways to argue. I say this, having suffered for years arguing with my wife. This is my sense of what would have helped us, and could help you and your wife
a) Enforce a time limit for arguing sessions and "timeouts" when things get too heated. If your argument exceeds 2 hours, it's time for a break.
b) Be able to "agree to disagree" on certain issues; this requires your discernment of what arguments are simply not worth pursuing to a resolution.
c) Strive to make compromises by moving from what you want, and moving closer to what she wants.
d) Be a good negotiator; don't always give in to your wife and know when to stand your ground (e.g. force her to "agree to disagree" when appropriate).
e) Be gentle and always mindful of protecting the relationship; this can be hard if your wife becomes abrasive during an argument, but in hindsight, doing more of this would have been best for me.

2. How much does/should physical/mental capacity factor into marital communications--particularly arguments?
A lot. In my opinion, my wife gets a high off of arguing, and she has argued with me about things for lengths of 8-14 hours per day, for multiple consecutive days. Imagine working a second job for a given week, where at the end of your work day you come home and argue with your wife for hours. That's been me, many many times. Needless to say, arguing that length was very unproductive for us, and at a point, one person will shut down. The person who shuts down will either give their spouse whatever he or she wants (e.g. halfhearted, coerced apologies or empty promises of concessions) or will begin "stonewalling". In my case, arguments seemed mentally cruel from their sheer length and it was nearly enough for me to just leave. Be careful about pushing for resolutions too hard; it can be more detrimental than helpful to any relationship.

3. If a "pause" is introduced in an argument, how do you reengage?
Re-enter the argument again from your understanding of her perspective, not yours. Re-enter the argument from the angle of what she wants, not what you want. From those positions, move back to your perspectives, what you need, and possible compromises that you see.

4. How do you move past the "funk" after an argument when you're ready to move on?
Make-up sex? I've never had make-up sex, but I would imagine this means you're on good terms with the wife.
 
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Hey Southmain, Happy New Year!

I can understand what you're going through, as this is what I'm experiencing with my H of 3.5 years. Except that I'm not on the feelings/emotions end of things, I'm very literal. However, from what I understand, for most part, men do tend to be more analytical, and women tend to be more emotional, so that dynamic is pretty spot-on for you guys.

I'm not sure if your W's adrenal deficiencies have anything to do with communicating or arguing, but I do hear you when you say that you arguments can be both mentally and physically draining. To me though (and i'm no medical expert), I think that your wife may be using her condition as a bit of an excuse. Good for you for sticking it out for 13 years; after 3.5 I've already started avoiding certain topics because they spark unwanted arguments.

1. Yeah, I think there's a right and wrong way to argue. There's arguing respectfully (taking into account each other's viewpoints, opinions and feelings, and not putting them down). I would say that the wrong way to argue is by not actively listening, telling the other person that they're wrong to feel a given way, or criticizing them.

2. I think that physical and mental capacity factors heavily into not just marital communication, but communication in general. It takes work to really be engaged and an active communicator, and that can take a toll both physically and mentally.

3. As for pauses, I'm not sure. My H tends to really draw out the pauses, to the point where I something don't remember what he said before it, so for me, that's what I know, and find it difficult to reengage without backtracking.

4. Argument funk... I'm also not sure, but would think that it has something to do with communicating respectfully, giving respect to one another's opinions, even if you don't agree with each other, and just leaving it at that. It's not something that I've ever been able to really get past, so not 100% sure on this, but that would be my guess.

Much luck to you, and good for you that you keep on keeping on!
 
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