Get the Boxing Gloves On

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For the most part, I enjoyed the time I spent as a therapist working with couples. It was rewarding to see that often all they really needed for a better relationship was improved communication skills. Of course, the tips I am going to give you only work if the two persons involved truly want a better relationship and are willing to work on it.

Many times when a fight begins, it quickly escalates into a shouting match. As both persons become emotionally wounded, it turns into a contest to see who can shout the loudest. The result is that neither person is actually listening to what the other is saying.

The first tip involves clarification. If this heated discussion is going to be productive, it’s important for both parties to understand what the other person is saying. Try responding like this to the first disparaging remark: “Are you saying I’m a fat pig?” The answer may be, “yes,” or the other person may back down and give some type of explanation that diffuses the anger.

The second tip revolves around the use of “I” versus “you” statements. “You this or you that” almost always is perceived as an attack and will incite anger in the other person. Use “I” statements to help the other person to understand how their thoughtless remarks make you feel. “I feel really hurt when you call me a fat pig.”

Remember, both people have to be committed to working on their communication skills to improve the relationship. If so, a dialogue between relatively mature adults could go something like this:

“You’re such a fat pig! Nothing I ever buy for you fits your fat ass.”
“Did you really say I’m a fat pig?”
“Well, yeah. You’re fatter than you should be.”
“I feel really hurt when you talk about me like that. I’m trying hard to lose weight.”
“I don’t like to see you so heavy; it’s not good for your health.”
“Are you saying that you’re worried about my health?”
“Yeah, and I feel frustrated when I buy something in the size you tell me, and it doesn’t fit you.”
“I’m worried about my health, too, but I feel like I want to eat more of the wrong things when you yell at me for being fat.”
“I’m sorry. I want to help, not hurt you. Why don’t we start taking a walk every night after dinner?”
“Okay, and do me a favor and take me with you when you want to buy me clothes so I can try them on.”
“I think we’ve got a deal.”

Photo credit – Copyright: cookelma / 123RF Stock Photo

4 comments

  1. I like this. I wanted to add that at my house there are two words that we’ve agreed not to use in an argument. ALWAYS and NEVER. ” you always do this” or “you never do this” start a conversation off on the wrong foot, and guarantees defensiveness. So, if one of us slips and uses these words, we usually end up laughing, because they’re so absurd.
    XoxJanet

    • Those words can really set off the “you” statements. It’s good to have rules like that so arguments don’t get out of hand. Thanks so much for your comment Janet! 🙂

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