Is it Safe to Talk?Feb 07, 2023
One moment you're getting dinner ready and the next moment you're in a full-scale fight. What in the world happened? You were sharing your day, he was helping to prepare dinner, and then all of a sudden you said something that generated a terse response. Where did that come from? You replay in your head how the conversation was going. You don't remember saying anything offensive so why the attitude? What's wrong with HIM, you ask yourself?
FIGHT, FLEE OR FREEZE?
What happens next is critical...do you fight back, flee from the conversation, or freeze? Whatever you do it is imperative to stop and pause for 20 minutes. For Russ and me, sometimes it takes a day to recover. Depending on the fight, I can sometimes park it and wait until our Weekly Check-In talk. The Weekly Check-In talk, better known as the Staff Meeting, was introduced to us through the Intimate Encounters curriculum, written by Theresa and David Ferguson.
It's called a Staff Meeting because they thought men would be more likely to attend such a meeting. It's a time when we both come prepared not to be defensive and create a safe place to discuss any conflict or frustrations.
OUR WEEKLY CHECK-IN
Our personal weekly check-in talk consists of:
- comparing our upcoming schedule for the week,
- our hopes and dreams with no monetary restrictions and
- what we did do to hurt each other the past week, if anything, and what did we do right?
So back to the conflict above, why wouldn't I just address it in the moment? For me, I prefer to flee, and even if I tried it is difficult to talk in the moment of a fight. My brain shuts down leaving me with no words to fight back with. Russ likes to jump on the conversation like a tiger and be done with it just as quickly as it started. So how do two people so diametrically opposed come back together and resolve the conflict? For me to stay in the argument, requires Russ to create a safe environment. Yelling at me will only shut me down more. And I've learned it's my responsibility as a stonewaller to come back to the conversation.
We've learned to take a pause - at least 20 minutes - and revisit the conversation or save it until our Weekly Check-In talk. As you know, any discussion during a fight is not productive. And postponing the talk prevents us from saying things we might regret.
FAMILY OF ORIGIN
It took years for me to overcome my family of origin way of fighting and that was to simply walk away and not talk about it....ever again. But in marriage, you can't run. And I've learned to stay in the conversation and have grown closer to my husband. We still fight and hurt each other but our recovery is so much better. I'm not sure I could have done this without learning the tools in counseling.
I find it ironic that we seek out coaches in our professions, in our health, and in our sports but we think something is wrong when we seek out a coach to help us relationally.
If healthy behaviors were not modeled in our family of origin, few are, where are you supposed to learn how to have a successful relationship with your spouse?
REPAIR OR RESENT?
This repair process is one of the key skills we teach in our Communicate Clearly Course™. Join us if you'd like to repair your disagreements in a way that doesn't leave you resentful. The Intentional Marriages framework will help you feel heard, loved and respected.
Learn new communication skills you can immediately apply in your marriage and some harder skills (with practice) that will transform your marriage.