In today’s episode, we will be continuing the discussion on how to have hard conversations without ending up in an argument.
Hi there. I’m Lesli Doares.
A Different Way. Last time I proposed that couples could deal with tough issues without ending up in an argument. This is true even if the two of you have never been able to talk about a particular topic without it dissolving into a fight. You probably can even predict exactly what each of you will say, you’ve had the “conversation” so often. But if one, or both of you, gets upset, it might be helpful to look at what’s happening in a different way.
- There are at least three levels of conversation: event, topic, and issue. The event level is based in fact and usually requires a simple response: did the mortgage check get mailed, what time will you be home for dinner. You might be slightly annoyed by the response, but there is no big emotional reaction.
- The topic level is still fact based but is more global in scope: can we afford a $400 car payment, should we buy a new house. You may get into heated discussions but neither of you should get out of control emotionally.
- If that is happening, one or both of you are at the issue level. This is where your values, beliefs, morals, fears, all come into play. If you the two of you aren’t at the same level of conversation, you will never be able to reach agreement.
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A Good Example. A couple I saw several years ago provides a really good example of communicating at different levels. Every time they came in, they had had another fight about money. They were able to identify what money was coming in and what their fixed bills were, but every time she would spend more than they had agreed to. It became clear that something else was at play. I asked what it was she was spending money on. It turned out that when she would be out with the children and stopped at the store, she had to buy them something, even if they didn’t need it. After digging a bit further, she related that she and her mom went to live with her grandparents after her father died.
Any time she was upset or did something really well, her grandparents would buy her something. She came to equate love with things and she interpreted the constraints of the budget as not being able to show her children that she loved them. He was at the topic level when talking about money, but she was at the issue level. Until they both were able to understand this, no progress was ever going to be made.
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What Level are You At? Think about the discussions you have repeatedly. What level are you at? What level do you think your partner is at? Share your thoughts and experience below. Also, if you have a question you would like addressed, write it below in the comment section or if you’re on my website (aFearlessMarriage.com), click on the contact button and let me know there. Thanks for dropping by. Until next time, I hope you have a loving day
Also, if you have a question you would like addressed, write it below in the comment section or if you’re on my website (aFearlessMarriage.com), click on the contact button and let me know there. Thanks for dropping by. Until next time, I hope you have a loving day.
About Lesli. Lesli Doares is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and an expert Marriage Consultant for Huffington Post, SELF Magazine, Woman’s Day, the John Tesh Radio Program and more! To schedule a confidential appointment with Lesli, contact Lesli for a confidential meeting or call (919) 924-0463.