There you are, just sitting down in your favorite chair, ready to chill out watching some TV, playing a game on your computer, or just spending some time in your nothing box, when you hear it. Those dreaded words. “Honey, we need to talk.” Your stomach tightens up, your shoulders tense, and your heartbeat quickens as you prepare for another round of where you’re falling short as a husband. Sound familiar?
But what if you decided not to dread this conversation? Instead of seeing it as the usual attack and preparing your defenses, what if you decided to use a bit of ju-jitsu and turn her complaints about you and the relationship into an opportunity to become the hero in your marriage?
Crazy, right? But hang with me here.
Yes, she’s more than likely exaggerating or, at the very least, being selective in what she is focusing on. And if you move into your defense attorney mode and rebut where she is inaccurate, you will get what you’ve always gotten—losing the forest for the trees and hurt feelings all around.
But what if you choose to focus on whatever kernel of truth there might be in her complaints? Stop looking for where she is wrong or hyper critical and accept that there might be some room for improvement.
This is a lot like what I tell teenagers who want their parents to trust them and give them more responsibility. They think the rules their parents have are ridiculous, so they ignore them. So instead of getting more freedom, they get less.
I recommend that they find a way to address the concern their parent has, even if they think it’s stupid. Come up with a solution instead of a defense or outright defiance. And embrace that solution repeatedly so trust and respect is built.
Stepping up in this way doesn’t mean that you fully accept your wife’s perspective or that you have to abide by whatever remedy she wants. Only that you are acknowledging that what you are doing, in the way that you are doing it, is creating tension in your marriage. Isn’t that enough to warrant a look?
When you can drop your sword and shield and open your mind, the possible ways of approaching things differently will appear. And at least one of them will satisfy both of you. And isn’t that what you want—a happier, less contentious relationship?
And this isn’t about her changing or controlling you. It’s about using her disapproving energy to create collaborative transformation in your relationship.
I challenge you to give it a try and let me know what, if anything, changes in your relationship.
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