Why do you initiate conversations in your marriage? Chances are they’re for the wrong reasons. I know mine were for years. Still are half the time to be honest.
I’m not talking about the “Who is going to pick up the kids” conversations. This isn’t about those logistical talks. This is about those heart to heart talks. You know, the one that start with “We need to talk…” or could be prefaced by that anyways.
When someone says “We need to talk…” what they usually mean is “I need to talk and I need you to listen.” Frankly, that would be better to say. It’s more honest. If you really need someone to just listen to you, then say that. “I need you to listen to me.”
What usually happens in a “We need to talk” conversation is that you don’t really want to have a conversation. What you’re trying to do is get your spouse to see your perspective on something, and ultimately to convince them that you are right. You’d be more truthful if you just said “I think I know what’s right, and I’m going to verbally beat you down until you agree with me. Ready?”
We should initiate conversations to listen
Instead, we should initiate conversations that we can understand our spouse’s perspective. You should be working to figure out what they want or need. How they feel. What they think, believe, hope for and fear. What is their goal in a particular situation.
Now, ideally they’ll reciprocate and ask yours as well, but the initiate goal should not be to share your perspective, but rather to ask theirs.
I think if people did this more often, there would be a lot fewer fights. Because what often happens is that you start a conversation, it escalates into an argument when the other person realizes you’re really just attacking their perspective under the guise of “talking”. So, they put their guard up and start retaliating. Since you already started with an offensive posture, we now have a battle.
But, what if you came in, open arms, just asking what they think. What they want. What they need. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, and it doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. But, understanding their perspective can help towards finding a solution that’s less a battlefield compromise and more a solution by teammates.
So, next time you feel the urge to say “We need to talk” or start a conversation to share what you need or want, try asking what they need or want first. Then, when they’ve shared, if they haven’t asked you in return, you can openly ask “Do you mind if I share my perspective?”
Keep in mind though, you can’t go into the conversation thinking “Well, I’ll just let them talk for a while, and then we can get to the important part: my thoughts.” If you do that, you’ll ruin the entire exercise.
But, if you approach it with honesty, integrity and authenticity, then I think you have a much better chance of both of you being heard and a solution being found that will actually draw you closer together than rather driving a wedge between you.