If you’re like me, you’ve often let your mouth fly wide open to reveal the manipulative and prideful intentions behind an effort “to discuss” a sticky issue. Ugh!
You’re thinking that your words will bring clarity and understanding for your mate (cue the sound of angels singing from heaven).
But all you really offered your mate was a sticky web intended to capture him with his own words.
Is that really what any of us want?
Maybe in the heat of the moment, but not once our anger and pride settles back down. Afterwards, we’re left with a tangled mess where we’ve certainly not acted “Christ-like”—inspiring our mates—but rather have left them feeling condemned.
Unfortunately, I’ve been in this sticky mess far more often than a Christian, counselor, and/or pastor’s wife should ever be! However, that’s also given me great insight into how to get unstuck when a sticky discussion arises.
The first thing I do is – Recognize how I’m feeling.
If I’m feeling anxious and angry, it’s a good bet that no matter how I try to discuss something, it’s going to come across harsh and even hateful. So that leads me to . . .
The next step – Call a “time-out” of sorts.
When I’m feeling too emotional, I respectfully ask for a “time out” before we discuss the issue further—adding that I need to pull away to process and pray before we discuss again. (Refer to my prayer guide that I mentioned last week for how).
Step three – Pray and process
I gain so much calmness, peace and perspective once I’ve prayed over my feelings and perceptions regarding the conflict. Sometimes it takes praying and processing for days, but more times than not, it gives me clarity very soon afterwards.
Then I ask my husband if we can schedule a time to discuss the conflict (but avoid discussing immediately after). Whenever we experience strong anger, scientists are finding that the Amygdala in our brains gets “hijacked” for at least 18 minutes or sometimes up to several hours. Sadly, this hijack can drop our IQ by about 15 points until blood begins to flow back to the frontal cortex. Not only that but . . .
[bctt tweet=”Perspective cannot be gained in heat of the moment. We must step back, pray and ask God to help us see things clearly. #prayer” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Step four – Meet for “the talk.”
As you begin to discuss the issue be sure to come with humbleness—focusing on “your” contribution and not your spouse’s. That’s the key here, friends! Trying to talk to my husband in a way that communicates that he’s the main problem or even part of the problem will take the conversation from a smooth one to a sticky one in no time.
[bctt tweet=”Focusing on your own contribution is key to unraveling a sticky conversation in your life and marriage! Be sure to find out more tips by clicking the link and heading to MM! #conflict #prayer #conversation” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Step five – Make listening your paramount concern and action.
Really step five is actually a part of four—so maybe it should be 4 ½. 😉 The point is, you need to remind yourself that you cannot know all that your mate sees or feels without hearing from him/her first.
Once you’ve really listened, let the words sink in. Don’t grab them and form a rebuttal, even if the rebuttal is only in your head! Be humble enough to “sit with the words” for minutes, hours and even days. Speak them out loud to yourself so that you can hear them, ponder them, feel them.
Then ask the Lord to use your spouse’s words to reveal the truth about you and how you need to change.
In time, those changes can change the dynamic of your marriage, softening your heart and dropping your mate’s defenses.
Join me next week in this series on the “Lessons I’ve Learned in Marriage” where I’ll be talking about “How to spur conversation with a disengaged mate.” And if you’re interested in helping me in my once-a-month series on “sexual hangups in marriage,” then you can find out more by clicking here.
What is your biggest challenge when encountering a “sticky discussion” with your mate?
How do you think your mate would respond if you did all five of these steps completely?
Btw, I realize that I’m always pressing you, my readers, to be the one to take responsibility when sometimes you may be the “victim” in a very emotionally abusive marriage. If that’s you, then you need the help of a Christian counselor and pastor to help you gain perspective and support. These steps that I’ve outlined are for those in marriages where emotional abuse is rarely, if ever an issue. In abusive situations, “talking through an issue” can potentially lead to more abuse.
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