solving marriage problems

How to Solve Marriage Problems without Arguing

Focusing on what you and your spouse both dislike about the problem will help you to solve marriage problems without arguing.

solve marriage problems
Do you know how to help your spouse desire to work on problems with you?

Too often, people try to solve marriage problems by convincing their partners that they are wrong. This just brings resistance with no real change. Because of our partners’ desire to be right, they will not acknowledge the truth in what we are saying. And, because we believe our partners to be wrong, we don’t even stop to consider the truth in what our partners are saying. No matter how horrible what our partners believe, there is some truth in their belief. And, if we are willing to admit to it, we can create cooperation and real, positive change. 

Reality check: Are you secure enough to solve marriage problems this way?

Before you continue with this article, consider your partner’s number one negative belief about you.  Say it aloud or write it down. Now, set all of your arguments aside and ask yourself, “Is there ANY truth in what he or she believes?” If you are secure enough to be honest with yourself, you will see that there is some truth in his or her belief. That little bit of truth can be the starting point for creating a better relationship for both of you. To solve marriage problems, we need to focus on the little bits of agreement instead of the large chunks of differences.

Disagreement and debate are not necessary to solve marriage problems

The three most damaging problems in relationships are all communication problems–criticizing, complaining, and arguing. If you criticize to get your spouse to change, you can learn to make clear requests instead, to have better communication in marriage. But, even people who don’t criticize find themselves getting caught up in debate and argument. Typically couples disagree and debate–each person trying to prove he or she is right. With this method, one person can only win if the other person loses. That way really doesn’t work well in a relationship. Take for example the following exchange:

Partner 1: “If you weren’t so stubborn we could get along better.”

Partner 2: “If you weren’t so unreasonable, I wouldn’t have to be stubborn.”

Because each person considers himself or herself to be right, no change happens. Force is met with counter-force. Any opposites create this lack of movement. A few examples:

you’re too outgoing–you’re too shy

you’re too cheap–you’re too extravagant

you’re too emotional–you’re too shut down

or the classic

you’re too such and such–no I’m not, you are!

You can change the problem definitions to end disagreement

In the first example above, one person believes the problem to lay in the other person’s stubbornness, and the other person believes the problem to lay in the other partner’s unreasonableness. Each will cling to his or her belief. And, if one of them attempts to do problem solving at this point, it will lead to more conflict:

You: “Let’s work on some ways that you can be more reasonable, so I don’t have to be so stubborn.”

Partner: “I am reasonable. You’re the one with the problem.”

Head-on attempts to solve marriage problems bring opposition. They spark argument and withdrawal, or argument followed by withdrawal. The end result is the same–a more distant relationship in addition to the original problem which remains unsolved.

People have to first agree on what a problem is before they are willing to work on it together

The method of agreement brings people to that point naturally, as in the following example:

Partner: “You never listen to me.”

You: “Yes, I’m probably not doing a very good job listening to you, or at least I’m not making you feel listened to.”

Partner: “That’s right.”

You: “Okay, let’s work on coming up with some ways that could help you to feel like I am listening well.”

Partner: “Okay.”

Notice in this example, that although your partner clings to his or her belief, you have found some truth in it. You have also not fired back at your partner, given any excuses, or explanations. There is always some truth in your partner’s beliefs. Starting to admit to them is a good path to reconnecting. When you have found that truth, you can then define it as the problem, as in this example. Because your spouse will agree with it, it is now possible to work on coming up with solutions. Doing this will make you closer, which will make it easier to talk about your other concerns. Connect first and agree first, working on your spouse’s concerns before getting to your own.

To solve marriage problems, put your focus on getting closer rather than on being right

I have walked thousands of people through this process in marriage and relationship coaching. It works every time and couples like it. Let’s take another example.

The Old Argument:

Partner: “You think money grows on trees. The way you spend we will never get to have a good life.”

You: “You’re so tight with the money that we never have a good time. I don’t want to wait till I’m old and gray before I can spend a little money on myself.”

As you can see, this is the opposition argument which results in no progress.

Changing the Problem Definition:

Partner: “You think money grows on trees. The way you spend we will never get to have a good life.”

You: “Yes, saving for the future is important. I don’t want to have to worry about our retirement either.”

Partner: “Yes, that’s right. So, you shouldn’t spend so much.”

You: “Yes. How about we work on a way to create a reasonable spending budget so that we can enjoy ourselves without jeopardizing our future?”

Partner: “Alright.”

Here you address your partner’s concerns and yours at the same time. This is not always possible to do in one step. The main thing is to find the legitimate part of the concern that your partner has and address that first.

Try it out

I never make recommendations to my clients that don’t work in the real world. I focus on getting my clients to see what is working and what is not. Then, I teach them step by step methods to replace their ineffective methods. Take what you have learned in this article and try it out. The next time your spouse makes some kind of negative comment, find the truth in it and disregard the rest. Admit to the truth and offer to work on it. You may have to do a good deal of tongue biting the first few times you do this. After that, you will start to actually look forward to your spouse saying negative things so you can do this some more!

When you solve marriage problems this way, your relationship will become closer

In my book, Connecting Through “Yes!”, I present many examples for how to use agreement with many very difficult problems with finances, parenting, affairs, separations, addictions, and so forth. If agreement can be used in these situations, then it can be used in yours, too. Through my work as a relationship coach I have helped thousands of people to turn serious marriage problems into opportunities for re-connecting. Although it feels good to be right, it feels even better to have a close, satisfying relationship. Convincing others that they are wrong is never a way to grow their love or attraction for you. Have you been trying to convince your spouse that he or she is in the wrong? Has it been working for you? If not, then consider using this method to solve marriage problems. The only regrets my clients ever have about this method is not having learned it sooner.

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