To think that we might be causing some of the problems in our marriage should shake us to the core. Like I said to my two teenagers yesterday, “Both of you are contributing to this.” I’m not off the hook, either. I know I am responsible for my share of the problems in my own relationships.
Let’s go there. I know, scary, right? First, watch the video.
(But also know the good news is if we’re causing part of the problem – we can STOP.)
It’s legit. The main point is simply this – when we argue, unless the other person is uber-mature and humble, we force him to become MORE deeply entrenched in his position, instead of considering what WE want him to be open to.
The video is just the science behind this:
Instead of arguing, if we will have but empathy and compassion for another’s opinion or behavior, and give voice to our understanding of their position, we can then ask a thoughtful question that can turn others toward a completely different way of thinking so much so that they will even convince themselves their own position or behavior is wrong.
Bet you can come up with a bunch of verses on empathy and compassion, listening, being patient, kind, etc….
After chewing on those for a bit, you might want to read this to understand why defensiveness matters in your relationship with your husband, your kids, and even yourself. The video adds another “how to make someone defensive” tip to the list.
And if you find that you make others defensive a LOT, then you might want to read this to learn a quick way to stop. Read this to find out why it’s happening in the first place. If you are angry and resentful a lot yourself read this – because maybe, just maybe, you’ve stopped being his wife, and are acting like his mom. Or maybe you are just too critical and not compassionate enough toward yourself.
Or maybe you have a guy who is just plain angry all the time.
How do you know someone is defensive?
Easy. They are justifying their behavior.
They aren’t taking ownership about something they should not have done, should have done, etc., and are explaining why they did or didn’t do what they did or didn’t do. You bring a complaint to the person and suddenly there’s a bunch of defending going on, hence the word, “defensive.”
As my husband likes to say, “All excuses just diminish one’s character.” So as a result of the defensive response, you then feel even more resentful, bitter, critical, angry, hurt, whatever. So yeah – no empathy or compassion for you, only justification.
It’s toxic to relationships.
Toxic to the relationship you have with yourself, too. Seriously – think about it. If you are critical of yourself, then you shame yourself, you aren’t behaving in healthy ways. Don’t believe me? Check this post. Then start taking every thought captive – even the ones about yourself.
Today I’m wondering… and I have three questions for our deep thinkers here who want to respond….
1) What is the thing you want to change about someone else who doesn’t want to change?
2) Is what you are currently doing making them defensive?
3) If yes, what can you do instead?
So many times I see this with about 1/3 of women – the woman tries all the things… follows all the experts’ advice… but her husband? He thinks life is just great – and takes advantage of the situation…takes her respect, takes her love, takes her care, takes her effort, takes and takes until she finds herself depleted, hurt, and angry. Even if she knows God, she’s still not as mature as Jesus. She’s spent. Poured out. She’s ASKED for what she wants, and he still just takes from her.
So what happens?
She checks out. Letting him have her heart becomes too risky. So she puts her heart in a jar and chooses apathy instead. He might notice. If she separates, he notices and might try. If she’s emotionally distant, he tries harder.
Why? Because we are wired to pursue things we can’t have. We are easily disatisfied creatures.
And then, if she doesn’t respond, he often gives up, too – but sooner than she did. The hard thing is that by this time, her heart is hard. If it doesn’t soften, the marriage dies.
So today, I want to ask YOU a question.
Think in terms of the people you make defensive. Tweens and teens and husbands coming to mind…???
How often do we lecture others or “give information” as “help” … and is that actually helpful? If the point of that communication is to encourage change, are we effective? With them? With ourselves?
So for today, after you watch the video, I dare you to think of the last time you made someone defensive, including yourself. Were you giving information? Lecturing even? Did they (or you) start justifying or making excuses or explaining?
What question(s) to put them on the other side of the issue could you have asked instead?
- What do you want to change about someone who doesn’t want to change?
- What could you be doing to make them defensive?
- What question(s) could you ask instead?
And for extra credit, how is that respectful?
Think about this… have you ever argued anyone into the Kingdom? Or “won an argument” with your husband? If you win and he loses, you BOTH lose.
SO very glad you are here! 🙂 Can’t wait to chat!
Love to you,
Oh, and if you got this as an email forward from a friend who cares about you and your marriage, know we’d love YOU to join us on this journey. The road is long and hard, and often paved with tears, but worth traveling – and you’re not alone.
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