Ever wonder what you can DO about conflict in your marriage?
I remember being in sixth grade, my friend Angie walks over to me as we huddled as a collective cold group in the 10 degree weather.
This was Montana in the 70’s.
So yes, we were shoved outside for recess.
In the blizzards.
And the cold.
Anyway, Angie walks right up to me and says, “I have a bone to pick with you…”
I didn’t know what that meant, so I said, “Oh?”
“You told Janice that I liked Stephen. That’s not true. Why’d you say it?”
Okay, so in that moment, a few things happened.
My face flushed HOT RED and my pulse quickened.
In about four seconds, this sixth-grader earned both my respect and my terror.
This little woman walked right up to me and started a conflict.
I was uncertain as to what to do, so I just confessed. “Yes, I did. I was trying to be funny.”
“Don’t do it again. I don’t find it funny at all,” she said with a straight face, then walked over to another girl.
I felt a bunch of things, mostly shame. This was made worse by the sideways glances and whispers of my classmates after recess… gossiped about and humiliated, I walked home after school. Like a good German, I stuffed my feelings. I tried to come up with reasons to hate everyone else, and some how muddled through the rest of the day and the next, when all was forgotten by everyone but me.
Shame throttles our initiative, so after a few of these incidents, I reached out to fewer girls. Boys were just easier to connect with. As a “tom-boy,” hunting, fishing, riding horses, hiking, getting wood with my parents for the winter to heat our home, all those things were easier to navigate as visible outcomes built feelings of success.
I didn’t know that a sign of maturity was being able to hold relationships with your same gender.
(please forgive me here, I don’t mean to ruffle feathers, but I am SO glad I wasn’t a 9 year old tom-boy in THIS day and age!)
When I finally learned about emotional maturity, it was through the facilitation of my first boundary: I will not communicate when emotional. I confess I was in my mid-twenties before I started figuring this out. My husband patiently endured a full week of silence from me as I sorted what I was feeling and tried to find a way to interact with it and subsequently him, as I had nothing nice to say.
Psychologists will tell you that learning to navigate your feelings is the most basic fundamental step toward being mature.
Here are a few of the things I learned:
- Yelling and crying is disrespectful to myself and causes others to lose respect for me
- MY perspective is NOT the only one that could be accurate
- The ability to listen to someone else’s point of view and not get tipped over by it is a sign of maturity
- Just because I FEEL something doesn’t make my desires correct (often the opposite)
- We get “triggered” NOT by what just happened, but by unprocessed junk from our childhood
- If we don’t sort the triggering events, we are held captive by our emotions, and will fail to have healthy relationships and solve conflict effectively
- Most Importantly: Dealing with this stuff is NOT AS HARD as it looks! and totally worth doing!
And YES, these things are ALSO TRUE for the other people in your life – they aren’t “off the hook!!” BUT – they aren’t here, learning this like you are, so it IS up to you to master yourself! STOP relying on people to be different than they have shown you they actually are (read about how to deal with that reality here). You CAN cease being a victim in your relationships!
I am LIVING PROOF that ONE person can totally shift a relationship 180 degrees. Those we work with have ALSO done this! So yes, others should behave differently, but you can’t help navigate THAT until you have mastered self-respect with emotional control. Once you have mastered these, you can apply the significant communication skills you’ve learned and you’ll have the presence of mind to apply them in a moment.
It simply doesn’t work any other way.
In our free Facebook group for Strength & Dignity, we have a short eCourse where we work out how to mature and handle our emotions effectively. When I work with couples or individuals, we ALWAYS start with a process we call, “The Connection Steps.” It’s a simple method of connecting with ourselves, God, and others, in a way that matures us and then makes us able to handle solving conflict issues.
UNLESS we can master our emotions, we simply CANNOT master conflict.
I mean, think about it… I can share all the communication and conflict negotiation tools with you in the universe, but if we are emotional, our brains literally cannot even access the tools!
So we start there.
What’s also true is that my feelings of shame as a sixth grader were exactly that – MINE. I didn’t know that I had options. I don’t want you to become a person running around inducing a shame response in others, but if you do, that is their own self-judgment rearing its ugly head. Had I known how to respect myself, I wouldn’t have felt shame.
Notice my friend was not feeling shame – she told me later she felt disrespected. AND she felt like she needed to speak up, because she respected herself. It was RIGHT of Angie to start a conflict with me. As a result, I respected her more. SHE respected herself and instead of feeling shame from a classmate’s teasing, she showed up with character.
If we respect ourselves, we do NOT feel shame!
Creating self-respect is a complicated awareness, BUT the good news is when the lightbulb hits, you simply can’t unsee it.
And it’s life-changing.
We’ve noticed in doing ministry since 2005 that most marriages have a ton of basic disrespect in them.
Gottman’s research shows that 81% of marriages where the husband doesn’t receive influence from his wife FAIL.
That’s a startling statistic, one where the simpleminded might just blame the husbands and say they just need to be more open. That’s not wrong, they do, but we have seen something powerfully true as well – the normal communication patterns of women make receiving influence exceptionally difficult for a man.
In other words, there are many things women do with women that work – and those same things done with men make things worse.
Why is this?
That can be simple, maybe not easy, but SIMPLE to fix.
We know how to help you with that, and hope you will join us.
It’s a simple, proven process. Your husband will receive influence from you once he respects you – to make that happen, you need to respect yourself first.
And this process isn’t intuitive, but worth doing. In community – with others who have been there done that, finally got it right, like our mentors (and me!)
While you can sign up for the free eCourse now and get access to some content right away (including a free PDF on how to master your emotions), know that starting November 27, on EACH Monday at 2pm ET, we will have a Live Q&A on Facebook where I walk through the nuances and the challenges you are having.
100% of our coaching clients first learn to master their emotions, THEN they navigate difficult conversations and even help others when that person is emotional.
What would that ability do for YOU? How are you doing in the emotion control department? Got lots of big feelings still?
It is NORMAL to have big feelings when you are being mistreated.
AND they get in the way of fixing the problem.
We can help.
Consider yourself invited! You’ll be entering the “Judgment-free zone” as there is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus!
Here’s where to sign up – it’s free! (scroll down to the options to grab your seat!)
Love to you,
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