Category Archives: Communication

Argument Aftermath

Address the Issue

 

communication dos and don'ts
Argument Aftermath

Dos

If you sweep things under the rug, eventually someone will trip over the lump.

In my experience, it is best to wait for the fire to die out before revisiting the source of the inferno.  For the passionate, this is not easy.

Be patient

It is all too tempting to hash it out, right there and then, while still flush from its heat.  Sometimes this can result in a hefty helping of the Silent Treatment; the heartburn kind.  Often, conflict is like an episode of Three’s Company; something or someone has been misunderstood or not completely transparent.  Purely open communication is

…the ability to fully express your perspective to your partner and, brace yourself, seeing things from your partner’s perspective.

It is best to wait until both parties are calm and ready to listen to revisit an issue.  The aftermath of an argument takes time.

 

argument aftermath communication dos
Argument Aftermath

Often couple`s therapists will use tools for listening like the ‘speaking rock.’ The person in possession of the rock is the only one allowed to talk. This means that the one without the lump of stone is to listen.  Corny! But it works.  If nothing else, a huge spotlight exposes how often we interrupt one another – especially when we don’t like what we are hearing.

I once read on Pinterest,

‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Steven R. Covey

Something to think about the next time your partner is holding the rock.  If an apology is in order, and it probably is, see my article on apologies to better your approach.

Don’t

Do Not Use the Car.

Fight the urge to approach the ‘we should talk’ conversations when driving.  Why, you ask?

communication don't use the car
argument aftermath

You have a captive audience.  Literally, your partner is trapped with nowhere to go.  If they are not ready for this conversation or you are not abiding by the sharing rules of the speaking rock, you will land yourself in a bigger argument and possibly on the receiving end of the Silent Treatment.

Trust me on this.  Getting out of the car to walk is so clické, but young couples everywhere have been there.  Perhaps, it is their flair for the dramatic. But as we get older no one has time for walking (or the shoes because, let`s face it, these talks always happen when we are dressed up) and more often than not we are on the highway.

Avoid Tight Spaces

Even if you have all the best intentions and you promise yourself not to let the conversation become heated the odds are that it will blow up in your face.  Cornered animals tend to jump to the defensive. They turn rabid and snarl.  When strapped in and forced to start straight ahead there is nowhere for the anxious energy to go.  People need their space and freedom to truly express themselves, especially when threatened.  Body placement says a lot about what we are communicating; standing wagging a finger, sitting with crossed arms or even pacing are all conditioned ways to process and respond.  We pick these up in our childhood and they are our own coping mechanisms.

Not only does the trapped person need an outlet for this energy but it serves the partner well to bear witness.  We take greater cues from one another’s body language than words, especially from our partners.

When a driver is backed into a conversation and stopping is not an option, I promise you that they are visualizing pushing you out of the moving car.  Okay, if it was meant to be, they may drop you at the next corner even in their fantasy.

Regardless the mental message is the same; SHUT UP or GET OUT!

communication don't use the car
argument aftermath

But to avoid the drama that would certainly follow that scene, not to mention criminal charges, the driver may opt to white knuckle the rest of the drive.  They may pick up speed and begin to drive recklessly and erratically.  Do not kid yourself.  They are not distracted by the conversation.  They are trying to get home as fast as they can to get you the hell out of the car.

Recap

Do not confuse the passenger seat with a soapbox or the car with an interrogation room.  If…I mean when, an ugly conversation needs to take place, let it be somewhere that offers an escape.  At least at home, if a door has to slam, no one is left on the side of the road (in uncomfortable shoes).

 

The Silent Treatment

Let’s Hear it for the Silent Treatment!!

Of course, it is juvenile and immature.  Not talking to someone is no way to behave.

Is it?

silent

Never go to bed angry?

Who said that?  Clearly, they have never argued with me or anyone to whom I have ever disagreed. There would be no sleeping if we were to hash it out before going to bed.  No, thank you.

I would consider my heated form of communication passionate, however, my husband would call it an ugly display of rage.  Either way, when I finally do lose my temper it can be verbally explosive. Please do not confuse this with being abusive. silent treatment - tips, tricks and warnings I have a double bladed tongue that mercilessly jabs back in quick concessions when provoked.  Depending on how long I have been holding my tongue and how deep my teeth have had to sink in determines how relevant, present and fair the blows are once I have unleashed my thoughts through words.  It isn’t pretty and contrary to the belief of those in the path of my wrath, I am not proud of myself nor do I gain any satisfaction in winning an argument in this way.  Once the dust settles, there is no way around it, I have said hurtful things to someone I love and care about.  It does not matter if what I have said is true.  The manner in which I have expressed these thoughts are inexcusable and unnecessary. What is said can never be taken back and is not easily forgiven.

Can your rage sometimes lead to a verbal backlash? If so, then you know what I am talking about.  It is actually better to go to bed angry than to voice the words roiling in your head.  Stepping back and taking a breath allows you time to calmly check your anger and frustration into a reasonable, respectful argument. This approach is better for everyone.  It has taken many years, countless apologies and some lost relationships for me to learn this lesson.

 Do not knock the silent treatment. It has its own purpose within reason. However, not talking to someone is the easy part.  Breaking the silence once the treatment has been doled out, is the pride swallowing, ego crushing challenge.  This is where I fail.  When I am giving my husband the cold shoulder and I drag it out, everything begins to break down.  We stop eating at the table and start sleeping separately. There is no disagreement for me when he takes a pillow and blanket to the couch to watch the game nor does he stop me from occupying the spare room during this award times.  We actually convince ourselves that the kids are none the wiser when we blame the separate sleeping on daddy’s snoring.   

silent treatment - trips, tricks and warnings
silent treatment

 When you wear your stubborn streaks like armor, don’t expect it to be comfortable.

 
  Now, we know better.

When we are no longer sharing a table or bed our communication is severed and our marriage is ultimately in trouble.  

Do not get me wrong, I am still a silent treatment kind of girl.  To some, it makes no sense.  It seems immature and a waste of time.  It must be understood, that it is out of maturity and self-awareness that I stay silent.  I know that my words can cut deep and leave marks that no apology can erase.  It is out of kindness and necessary restraint that I use silence. I go to bed angry so that I can wake up clear headed and ready to communicate fairly without wavering topic or reaching back in time beyond reasonable limits.  But now I know the sooner we meet the sooner we can talk, heal, learn and grow with one another.  The onus to break the silence is on me; the one whom initially cut off communication.
 

Ah, the apology without actually saying I’m sorry. Because it’s not really an apology, it’s a declaration of not being mad anymore.  It doesn’t even mean that I am ready to talk about ‘it.’ Only willing to start from here.

silent treatment tips, tricks and warnings
silent treatment

I do this by pulling two wine glasses out of the cupboard and leaving them out with a bottle of Cabernet. I am not presumptuous enough to pour, for it is very likely that my husband is angry with me and not ready to sit and chat.  So, it is up to him to fill the glasses and join me in a conversation. Then we can make up.

((I have advice on that too))

All a Marriage Needs

Where do you eat? Sleep? Revisit the table and bed to help restore your relationship.

A wise man once said that a marriage needs only a table and bed.

tools to save your marriage - table and bed
marriage tools

Communication is key!

This we know.  But how and when can we sit and talk?

Consider, courting.  Most new couples relish in going for dinner.  We have conditioned ourselves to have our most intimate conversations while dining or entangled in bed. Sharing meals and pillow talk are essential to a successful relationship. When one or both of these are not being met it is usually a true indication of trouble.     

  It was during a wedding ceremony that I experienced this enlightenment. My husband was an usher and I sat alone in the pew listening to the minister. He began by gently poking fun at the young couple’s blissful obliviousness to their future struggles.  This, of course, earned a chuckle or two from the more mature members of the congregation. In fact, I remember my husband finding my eyes to share a knowing glance.

At the time, we were secretly seeing a marriage counselor. So we were no strangers to the struggles of which the minister spoke. Somehow we managed to squeeze a few kid-free hours out of our already hectic weeks to see a therapist.  After a month and a half of faithful sessions, many tried exercises and countless dollars the one thing we could agree on was that the therapy was not working.  Yet, fifteen minutes into a wedding, I learned all I needed to know to recognize the markers of a troubled relationship. Who knew? That advice came at the cost of a pedicure and an appliance from the bride and groom’s registry.  Little did the new couple know that they had given us the greater gift.

a marriage needs a table and a bed. Share a meal and pillow talk to repair your fractured communication
Table – share a meal

I do not cook and my second-hand table has been hurting to be refurbished for years.

That aside, ever since I realized the importance of the table, I consider it our meeting place as a family and as a couple. It is there that we share meals, talk about our day, play cards, drink wine and pour over the weekly fliers. 

At times, it is with great effort that we fight the urge to flop in front of the television with our plates on our laps. This we used to do all too often.  Now, I understand that our meals are sacred. When we know beforehand that we will not be home for dinner, we try to outdo ourselves with brunch.  And on those ‘eat in a hurry’ nights my husband and I try to remain at the table and continue to connect while the kids rush to get ready for whatever extracurricular they have.  This is just a simple concept made more difficult with the hustle and bustle of everyday lives. But it is important to find the time and worth it in the long run.

 

a marriage needs a table and a bed. Share a meal and pillow talk to repair your fractured communication
Table and bed – not TV

I seriously considered that minister’s words and they all rang true. I do not regret divorcing my first husband but I often reflect on how regularly we ate in front of the television and slept in separate beds. For the most part, we got along just fine. This happened because we had nothing to talk about.  Perhaps, if I had understood the importance of the table and bed to communication; the cornerstone to any relationship, we never would have married. 

 

Now my greatest fault is that I am guilty of the silent treatment. When I am giving my husband the cold shoulder everything breaks down.  The first thing to go is sitting at the same table which further fractures our connection. Then one of us resigns to the couch or the spare bedroom which physically severs our ability to communicate. By not sitting at the table or sharing a bed we have annihilated any chance of coming together.  Eventually, one of us will prepare dinner and purposefully set the table.  When we meet there we know not to discuss the tender issue at the crux of our argument.  To sit at the table is a silent agreement to push past for the sake of a meal.  There will be time enough to rehash the conflict once the dishwasher is on and the kids are in bed.  Or not.  Some arguments can pass without convincing the other person that you are right. 

Pillow talk, however, needs no explanation.  It is inherently intimate and not only because of its simplistic correlation to sex. We are at our most vulnerable when in bed. It is where we sleep, retreat to when we are unwell, make love, lounge naked or wear pajamas not suitable for public display.   Nowhere else are you as truly yourself than in bed. There, couples share everything and bare it all.  Meet there. 

Let it be said, a marriage needs only a table and bed.

Still not convinced? Then consider the most popular advice given to couples undergoing a rough patch.  The two of you need a weekend getaway, a vacation, a night out.  This implies going out for dinner and getting a hotel room. Strip it down…

 

reconnect by sharing a meal and engaging in pillow talk. 

First of all, make it happen.  Be present. Turn off the television.