Have you ever been frustrated with your spouse? At some point or another, everyone has had frustrating times with their significant other. It is completely normal. In your head, think about a topic that can be difficult to resolve or is frustrating in your relationship.
When you are in the moment of this argument or conflict, what might an onlooker see happening? Think about body language or actions that usually occur during your frustrating times. What do your faces look like? How are your bodies positioned? Do you use big hand gestures? What about eye contact? Do the conversation look like there is a balance? Do you scowl?
Now think about what it sounds like. What might an onlooker hear during this interaction? Will they hear yelling, or controlled discussion? One person or two contributing to the argument? What does the sound sound like? Think about the rate (how fast), the tone, pitch, and speed of how things are said.
Do you feel respected and valued in this interaction? Are you offering respect and value to your spouse? Are you treating your relationship with integrity and love?
Now that you have a visible and auditory picture in your head, take that same frustrating topic and think of a time when this or a similar topic came up but the conversation went a bit better. What was different in this conversation than the first one? Was it a difference in something you said/did or something your spouse said or did differently?
Every relationship experiences tension. It is important to understand that tension is not always a bad thing. It is an opportunity for the relationship to grow in acceptance, flexibility, understanding and maturity. How we manage our tension makes a significant difference to the positive or negative effects that come as a result of the experienced tension.
Communication plays an important role in reducing tension. Watching what you say in an intense situation plays a big role. There is one word that has the power to influence how the entire conversation plays out. Changing this one little word can turn the sentence into a demeaning statement.
But what word could hold that much power? The word: but. When we use the word “but” it negates anything that was said before it. You can be gentle in your approach, but once this word is used the gentleness is lost.
Did it happen just now to you, in the above sentence? We will place a greater emphasis on everything after the “but” and the beginning half gets washed away. Almost as if we never said it, or at least did not really mean it.
There is an easy fix to this problem. The solution to this but problem is substituting with “and.”
When we substitute the word “and” for “but” we are saying that both sides of the sentence (which may be opposing) are true. Even if the two sides are two opposing truths, they do not go together, using “and” will help you send the message of respect clearer and will help your listener receive your message with less defensiveness.
Just remember, you can only control you and how you approach any topic or how you interact through a topic. How you approach makes a difference. You have the power to change a negative cycle into one that can foster growth and connection! Change starts with my small very day decisions.