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.
6 thoughts on “Are you initiating conversations for the wrong reasons?”
What I want in these conversations is to say what is on my mind, and then receive a thoughtful heart-response from my wife, whether she agrees or not. If she understands, well and good, there is more to explore. If I am off base, then well and good, let’s go to work. But to receive an answer that confirms what I said just to please or avoid conflict is tantamount to deceit and she would certainly be no “help meet for me.”
The background is that we must work to ensure that our mates are safe to freely express themselves.
We actually swore this safety to each other before we married, and swore that we would initiate these conversations, however uncomfortable, whenever necessary.
Thanks for the article. Sorry if my reaction is a little off-topic.
There are times where it is painfully clear that your spouse doesn’t know how you feel or what you are thinking and needs to be informed about that. It still shouldn’t be a verbal beat down, but there are times you have to take the initiative in telling them. A conversation has both talking and both listening.
Well put Jay Dee! It is hard at times not to get in that retaliate mode, especially if the first conversation on said topic did not go so well. But if we are honest with ourselves we all want to be understood. That’s part of the knowing each other aspect of marriage.
We must be willing to set aside ourselves, if you will, and listen earnestly with an open mind and heart.
I loved the last paragraph”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.
Thanks, Stuart! Glad you enjoy it.
Jay Dee, I needed you to share this with us about 50 years ago. Sometimes it has been a difficult road trying to convince my wife that “i am right and she is wrong.” One of the best statements I heard lately is “your wife is not your enemy!” I kind of treated her as my enemy instead of my partner. As we age I think our conversations are becoming more civil, and helpful. I hope you can reach some of the younger married so that they do not have to suffer like so many couples.
Sorry Mike, I wasn’t around 50 years ago. Glad you learned it now though!