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  • Writer's pictureASK NANA


Hear their need instead of focusing on yours.

Disagreements are a given in any relationship. They can tear a relationship apart or glue you more strongly together. This all depends on the tools you use during the disagreement.

Here are some guidelines for working all the way through a disagreement.

  1. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for yourself. Even if you only contributed 5% to the problem own up to that. Hold yourself responsible for your words, your attitudes, your actions and motives. This is choosing to be an adult instead of a spoiled self-centered child who makes excuses for bad attitudes and behavior . Growing up is hard but necessary if you are going to have any resolution.

  2. Commit to HONESTY AND MUTUAL RESPECT. It's hard to be respectful to someone who is acting like a jerk. But remember some of your perceptions might actually be imaginations based on your past experiences. Give some room for truth.

  3. NO DEADLY WEAPONS. Don't cut off hope for you or for them. "Always" and "Never" are deadly words. You can say, "You have done this enough that you are beginning to be characterized by this." That gives room for recognizing the few times they may have done right and leaves hope that the right actions could possibly increase.

  4. TIMING IS ESSENTIAL. Deal with issues quickly before they pile up and turn to bitterness. Watch for tiredness, sickness, overwhelmed with many things to do or interrupting when the other is concentrating on a difficult issue. I know these things can seem like they are always there but look carefully and creatively for timing that should help insure you will actually be heard.

  5. Prepare for a POSITIVE SOLUTION. We focus too often on what is wrong rather than what could make it right. Remember you may not have all of the data for a complete and successful solution so suggest with an open mind.

  6. Watch WORDING AND TONE of voice. Do not attack character. Stick to the actual issue and no sarcasm is allowed if you really want a successful solution. Yes, you many have to humble yourself a little. But "He who humbles himself first wins!" If you say "I feel you..." that is not a feeling but a judgement. A feeling is "I feel abandoned when you..." or "I feel hurt when you..." those are true feelings not judgements. The other person may not realize that their actions cause these feelings in you. Give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest how you might better understand what they are trying to do or say.

  7. Try to HEAR THE NEED in the other person. We tend to focus on our own need and forget that they may be trying to express a heart need inadequately. Reflect to them what you are hearing and ask, "Did I get that right?" Realizing that you are truly being heard lowers anger and anxiety and allows true communication to happen.

  8. DON'T SWING IN PUBLIC! Do not use public embarrassment on another especially a spouse. If he is telling a story don't correct his details. Nobody cares if you drove five miles or ten miles. It's not an important part of the story. You can remind him later in private of the missed details or you could just shut up and let him enjoy the limelight for a few minutes!

  9. CLEANUP THE MESS. If you've had a disagreement never end it until you both feel back in fellowship with each other. If you haven't come to a complete solution to the problem but you have better understanding and you are no longer angry at each other then suggest you both spend a couple of days thinking about other options for solutions then set a time to discuss it again. This time will be less emotional and more successful in finding a solution that meets both of your needs.

These tools when used bring greater understanding, fellowship and peace into your relationships and homes. Teach these things early to your children and give them a headstart on great relationships in their lives.

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