Every marriage experiences disagreements, arguments, misunderstandings, and obstacles. Yes, there is the honeymoon stage where each person accommodates without hesitation to please the other… but it’s only a matter of time before that doesn’t fly so well.
First of all, each person is coming to the relationship with their own unique characteristics, ways of doing things, and thought process. In some cases, there is even some baggage and past mess coming along as well.
Second, very rarely do couples receive premarital counseling, which can help shed light on issues that often come as total surprises to new couples.
Last but not least, there is also the stigma placed by society that if it doesn’t work, get a divorce.
So, how do you turn arguments and disagreements into GO moments?
Let’s start by identifying go moment. My husband and I came up with the acronym GO, meaning Growth Opportunity, a couple of years ago. We came to the conclusion early in our marriage that what we wanted more than anything was growth. Without it, we knew we could not prosper in our individual lives, relationship with one another, and our parenting. We can always tell when we are not growing because we encounter the same issue time and time again with little to no progress. Others may use a different scale, or even a different method; however, this has worked wonders for us!
Below are some ways you can turn arguments and disagreements into GO moments:
Acknowledge the disagreement/argument before it escalates. How often do you find yourself in the middle of a screaming match with your spouse before you finally take a step back and realize you’re in an argument, and it’s not going anywhere? It is vital to try and develop the skill to notice the disagreement/argument before the wrong emotions become attached to it, making things worse than they really are. What does this look like? When you and your spouse initially disagree on, or start to argue about something, from that moment, begin to come from a position of understanding why your spouse disagreed to begin with. In most cases, a disagreement leads to the mindset of, “I need to prove my case or why I am right!” instead of understanding why your spouse responded in the way they did.
Stay on topic. You and your spouse are having a “moment” and before you know it, you are now arguing about something not being done properly, or an issue that happened last week….. but it started out as a chat about something that happened 15 minutes ago. Hhhmm…. so, how did the argument turn into something that happened a week ago? I’d be willing to bet it’s because one (or both) of the spouses failed to stay on the topic at hand. Something else failing to stay on topic shows is unfinished business (which we will talk about later). Unfinished business will most always come up at some point in time. Needless to say, the ability to stay on topic will make for more profitable go moments. When you see/hear the argument/disagreement getting off topic, acknowledge it and take a break…. refocus, and finish the discussion after you both can agree to stay on topic.
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Don’t be selfish. It’s so easy to take the defense and slip into the mindset of having to prove a point or be right. This has been the most damaging setback for my husband and I. In the moments we become selfish and want to override the other, we end up not reaching the goal of improving and growing from the disagreement/argument. This begins the cycle of arguing –> becoming defensive –> not staying on topic –> unfinished business –> no conclusion, growth, improvement. Developing the skill of selflessness will help you hear your spouse and comprehend what they are saying without the attachment of misguided emotions persuading your response.
Finish. A couple of tips ago, we talked about not staying on topic showing lack of finished business. This is why finishing is so important. I’m sure you’re wondering what constitutes a “finish” and this is only my opinion, so don’t quote me on it. For my husband and I, finished business looks like an argument or disagreement that is no longer an issue, nor something that comes up in the future. This is what true improvement and growth looks like for us. So many times we have used passed unfinished business as ammunition which has gotten us nowhere but back at square one. Finished business adds to making the relationship better and stronger…. not worse and weaker.These four main tips are the outline to how my husband and I turn our arguments and disagreements into growth opportunity moments. Do we always get it right? Nope. But what I can admit is that we have mutually made improving and growing the main goal. It takes work mixed with a lot of patience, but the outcome of “following our system” (so to speak) far outweighs doing the opposite!
We hope that you will consider the tips suggested and find more ways to have go moments!
As an added bonus, print these growth opportunity Scripture and affirmation cards! You can place them as decor around your home or keep handy to look at any time an issue arises! Here’s to improving, growing, and thriving in your marriage!
Until next time, blessings-