Friday, October 25, 2013

Marital Business Meetings


Navigating parenthood doesn't come without a few speed bumps. TH and I have been kind of "winging it" in terms of what our new roles and expectations for each other were, until we realized that  it was a pretty flawed method... in the middle of a heated argument.

Once the flames died down I sat back and realized that what was happening was our expectations needed better management (check back for a whole other post on that particular topic). Having been a manager in my professional life, I decided to write a business-like email to my husband regarding our argument and what I thought needed to be discussed in order to find a resolution. I've used this tactic a time or two with him, and it almost always produces positive results. When a couple gets into a bad enough argument and feelings end up hurt, I find it's best to first get some space to calm down, and then reconnect in an almost business-like manner to sort out the problem at hand without letting emotions fly like they did the first time.

I like to start my marital business email with an apology, regardless of who was really "in the wrong". 99.9% of the time I was not as nice or fair as I should have been during an argument, so there is always something to apologize for, and it works well to disarm the other person so that they are willing to listen. I'm not saying you should apologize and not mean it though, because I know I see right through those and I'm guessing your partner will too.

After that I usually describe what I perceive the problem to be, using lots of "I" messages and being careful to not sound accusatory. "We" messages can be good too, so that it feels like you are attacking the problem as a team. For example: "I feel that maybe my expectations of your household duties are unrealistic, so I would like for us to discuss how to make them more fair". It's important to make my perception of the issue clear to my partner, so that he understands where I am coming from which lessens confusion and hurt feelings.

From there I stick in some bullet points with topics I want my husband to think over so we can have a productive conversation about it. I try to be as clear and concise as possible, but I let him know that if he doesn't understand I'm more than happy to explain what I mean. As it turned out, TH wanted me to answer all the same questions I asked him, so it was a great way to foster an informative and productive conversation.

Lastly I set up a meeting. Yes we will see each other that night, and eat dinner together, and talk about whatever... but the fight will NOT be discussed until our scheduled meeting. Nothing derails good progress like continuing to berate your partner for days on end because your feelings are still hurt. It is best to just hold off until you can discuss things calmly! Chances are, your hurt feelings will dissipate once you  really listen to where your partner was coming from, and you can get a calm heartfelt apology. No one wants to sincerely apologize to someone who is screaming at them.

During the meeting we literally went through each bullet point and discussed. There were times when we'd start to get off topic with things like "well you never..." which aren't productive at all, and not even relevant since I feel we've started over with a clean slate now that BK is here. Once we sorted things out, and created an Action Plan, we talked about how the other person hurt us during the argument. This gives both of us an opportunity to see where we can do better during the next (inevitable) argument so that we aren't spewing so much venom. Then we get to hug it out, and not go to bed pissed at each other.

Then we get to go back to focusing on this little cutie
I am NOT a counselor or anything even close, I've just been in this particular relationship for almost 10 years and this method was something that worked for us so I thought maybe it would be helpful for someone else! Have any of you tried something similar? Do you think this sounds silly/weird?


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2 comments:

  1. Nicolle:

    After 41 years with the same man, I identify with your problems and think you have a great solution, the only thing I would try to do different is stop and think about the things you brought up in your message while you're having the argument and before it gets to the anger stage?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! Yes, that's a great point and usually the most difficult part of arguing with my TH. I guess my only excuse for this particular fight was an age old one - sleep deprivation due to a newborn! Definitely worth keeping in mind though so thank you for commenting!

      Strive to Thrive,
      Nic

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