My client’s husband had a problem with being chronically late for dinner. They always planned for dinner to be at 6:00 p.m., but he hardly ever made it home on time, and he never called or texted.
My client was feeling disrespected and unimportant. She wanted to work it out with him, but every time they talked about it their conversation ended in a fight.
In this week's podcast, I am going to teach you how to have a difficult conversation with your husband that doesn’t end in a fight!
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Welcome to A Life Designed.
My name is Tina Haisman. I teach busy moms how to get everything done and still have time and energy for themselves and their families. My passion is for helping women create more heart-to-heart connection with their husband and children so they can feel deeply fulfilled in those most important relationships.
The topic of today’s podcast is How to Have a Difficult Conversation
But before we get started I want to let you know I have a FREE private group on Facebook where you can come to get inspiration for your life. It’s called A Life Designed. I hope you’ll join us!
Also, I have created a free download call the Ultimate Guide to Guilt-Free Self-Care. It’s a Guide to help you take care of yourself in mind, body and spirit so you can feel like your best self every day. Visit my website tinahaisman.com to download it.
Now let’s Dive IN and talk about How to Have a Difficult Conversation
Communication is one of the most important aspects of being in relationship, if not THE most important thing. But communicating in marriage is not always easy. Sometimes, it seems we have more misunderstandings and frustrating conversations than smooth ones.
So that’s what we are going to talk about today—how to navigate difficult conversations. I am going to give you some perspective and step-by-step instruction on how to have a difficult conversation so you can bring more peace and connection into your marriage and feel like you are on the same page as your spouse.
Step one in having a difficult conversation is probably the most difficult. It is to give up the need to be right. I learned this from Brooke Castillo, and it really changes everything.
Because the need to be right is probably not even a need you realize you have. But, often when we are engaged in a disagreement with someone, our thoughts and emotions are driven this need to be right. It’s human nature.
But it’s costing us intimacy and connection in our relationships.
If you really think about it, what does being right really get you? Maybe it gets you the resolution you think you want. But is the cost worth it?
Because when there is a winner and a loser in a difficult conversation, there are actually two losers.
If you can give up your need to be right, you will immediately remove the need for defense and defensiveness in your conversations. This brings more peace to a difficult conversation. It relaxes it a whole lot. Takes the pressure off. Because there is not a battle to be won. There is just a conversation to have.
So, step one in having a difficult conversation is to give up the need to be right. Start the conversation by being willing to be wrong. Even if you are right.
Step 2 is to ask your spouse to tell you his side of the story. Then let him tell you. Listen actively. To understand. Without the intention of replying.
Put yourself in his shoes and imagine the scenario from his perspective. If you have to, keep reminding yourself that you have released the need to be right. That you are just here to listen and hopefully find a resolution that is a win for you both and for your relationship.
The cool thing about this is that you’re not going to get any pushback from him because all you’re going to do is listen.
I’m going to introduce an example to walk us through this process. Let’s say your husband promised to be home for dinner at 6 p.m. but he wasn’t home until 7 p.m.
You might ask him, "What happened. Why were you so late for dinner?"
He might say, “I was working on a proposal for a client that is due tomorrow, and I was really trying to put every bit of detail into it, because it’s a really big proposal and my boss told me a lot is riding on it. On top of that I was interrupted 20 times while trying to finish it. I know I said I would be home by 6:00, but I just couldn’t make it happen.”
Then once he has said everything he has to say, the third step is to identify the facts in his story and make sure you can agree on them.
This is a helpful because facts are neutral – not negative or positive in any way. Everyone can agree on them because they don't make anyone right or wrong. Facts are the common ground. This will help bring peace to the situation.
In our example, if your husband said he would be home for dinner at 6 p.m., but he wasn’t home until 7 p.m. Those are facts. Plain and simple. We could play the tape back and see the conversation happen about what time he said he would be home, then we could play the tape that show he was not home at that time. Make sense?
OK. So just the fact. Plain. Simple. No drama. Where the drama comes in is in the next step.
The fourth step is that you each get to say what you are making the facts of the situation mean. This is something I learned from Brene’ Brown, and I love it, because it is so healing and revealing.
So after you have agreed on the facts, you might say to your husband, "You are making me being upset about this mean that I am too controlling," and "And I am making you being late mean you don’t respect me.”
You see. That’s where the drama comes in. From this statement, you can clearly see that although you agree on the facts, you are both making those facts mean different things.
This brings so much clarity because you can see what the other person is thinking. And at this point, how do we decide who is right and who is wrong? I’d like to propose neither. It doesn’t matter.
Now you have an understanding. You can both see that you weren’t trying to hurt one another, you were just reacting to the situation you were dealt.
And so, the fifth and final step is to come up with a solution. This is an important point, because it's very easy to get caught up in problems and to talk about problems and argue about who is right. And then we start attacking each other.
When you get to this point, you need to find a solution you both agree on and stop talking about the problem. So, what's a solution that you can both agree to? How are you and your husband going to solve the problem of your husband coming home late without warning?
You focus on a solution. You brainstorm solutions that you both can agree on. The goal is to find a solution that makes life better than before you had the problem. Be willing to take some time with this.
Now. Here’s something else Brooke recommends. You don’t have to share this process with your husband. You can. Don’t get me wrong. But you don’t have to. You could just take the lead. How powerful is that? To be the person who doesn’t have to be right. To be the person who fosters peace and understanding and growth in the relationship? It takes a strong woman to be this person. And that strong woman is you.
Now I know it’s not always this easy. I’d love to help you with your specific situation.
If this is something you would like to work on cultivating further, reach out to me for a Marriage Coaching session.
Remember! I have created the Ultimate Guide to Guilt-Free Self-Care to help you feel like your best self every day. You will find it on my website.
Don’t forget to join the Life Designed Community on Facebook!
Thank you! See you next week!