Effective communication in marriage is an art that must be cultivated in your journey together. Do you struggle with incorrectly assessing the meaning in situations? Do you understand the way you react? To effectively work through arguments—we like to call them life lessons—you have to understand where your emotions are stemming from. In this episode of Both on Board we’ll talk all about how to navigate life lessons together while communicating effectively.

Highlights From Our Conversation

  • [0:50] Why you shouldn’t try and change each other
  • [5:00] Why you don’t need to model your spouse
  • [7:40] Your goal is to help your spouse shine their light
  • [11:20] Our example of working through an argument
  • [17:20] Do not speak with each other while you’re still angry
  • [21:00] Allow each other to work through situations at your own pace
  • [24:30] The negative situations are there to teach you something
  • [28:20] How life is a practice and a process
  • [32:25] The questions we need to ask ourselves
  • [36:00] Our reset exercise to ‘return to love’

Don’t try to change or become your significant other

Variety is the spice of life, right? You were attracted to your spouse because they were unique individuals that were different than you. Who they are is something you love. Perhaps they have some habits or traits that annoy you—which is completely normal. But you should not feel compelled to change or control the other person.

Along those same lines, your spouse may have traits that you love and would like to emulate. It’s admirable, but the world needs you and your unique skills and personality. You don’t need to become someone you’re not. Our goal in life should be to help each other shine their light. We feel the best way to do this is to complement each other, not change or become the other person.

Don’t assign meaning when it isn’t there

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? As you listen to this episode we give you an example of an argument we recently had. It turned into a debacle because I assigned meaning that wasn’t there. I thought Ray was disrespecting me. In reality, the situation was entirely different. Instead of taking time to step back and respond differently, I reacted.

I could’ve handled the entire situation differently, right?

We each have the control to assign meaning to any given situation. But we would caution to not assign meaning without understanding the full spectrum of the situation. Humans are complex individuals and you should have zero expectation that the other person knows what you’re thinking or feeling. Listen as we talk about the situation and our thought process when working through an argument.

The negative experiences are there to teach you something

An argument is just a moment in time in your relationship. The goal is to get to a point where you argue, you learn from it, and move on quickly. But in order to learn from it, you have to confront it. If you don’t, the same issues and problems in your relationship—and life—will keep coming up. You do not want to stay stuck in the same place and keep reliving the same problems for the next 30 or 40 years!

An old Chinese proverb states that a problem and an opportunity are the same things. If you change your mindset and an argument or situation becomes an opportunity versus a problem it changes everything. I need to take a deep look at myself and develop an awareness of where the issues are arising. If I can learn and grow and evolve as a person then I can better learn from the situations we find ourselves in.

Create space to ask yourself the hard questions

A great method that we try and utilize when we find ourselves in the throes of an argument consists of three steps:

  1. Give each other space to change the state of mind that we are in. Trying to work through something when we are both operating from a place of anger will not be productive.
  2. Come back and connect when the timing is right. Ray knows I am not in the right headspace until after I’ve done yoga in the morning and I’m awake and coherent.
  3. As you are giving each other space and waiting until the timing is right, ask yourself some tough questions. Why did I react the way I did? What triggered it? What meaning did I assign that perhaps wasn’t there? What can I learn from this?

Life is a learning process and we need to allow ourselves to embrace the imperfection and the learning curves to experience joy. We’ve just given you a snapshot of all that this episode covers—listen to the rest to learn more about our communication methods and where they stem from.

Resources & People Mentioned

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