Contrary to this photo, in my house, we don’t have fights. We don’t even have arguments. In a fight, one person always loses. In an argument, you might not even have a winner! There is just a lot of back and forth, each person wanting to get their stance communicated and understood. Instead, we are a TEAM and we have productive conflicts. You can read more about this in my previous post: Stop Fighting! Have a Productive Conflict! – PART 1. In it, I laid out my first five tips on how to have a productive conflict. This is a continuation of that first article, so please feel free to read it first or go visit that page later!
Tips on How to Have a Productive Conflict (continued):
6.) Pray and Speak the Truth in Love.
This is similar to the previous point, but slightly different. Here, the focus is to pray and ask God to help you know how to speak when addressing your spouse. If your spouse needs correcting, it can be very difficult to communicate it in a way they will receive. Honestly, I need Holy Spirit – power to speak the truth in love.
When I’m in the middle of a conflict with my husband, sometimes, I pause and put my hands together like I’m praying and hold them right underneath my chin. Honestly, I didn’t even know that I had my hands up to my chin! It’s one of those unconscientious mannerisms, but my husband brought it to my attention, jokingly, imitating me one day. In reality, I am praying and thinking, “Oh! Lord Jesus! I am really upset/angry right now, and if I open my mouth….who knows the words that are going to come out of my mouth?! Lord, help me!” I’m not joking or exaggerating one bit when I tell you this is going through my mind. The amazing thing is that…Jesus intercedes and controls the words that come out of my mouth! Can we say, slow to speak, slow to become angry, and quick to listen?! Yea, that’s not my doing! But the Holy Spirit in me!!
When my husband jokingly imitated my pause and clasped hands, it taught me that my husband recognizes that I stop to think about what I’m going to say next. Even though he knows I’m probably upset and going to rebuke him, he doesn’t mind and receives it well because the words that follow are spoken gently and with love. I can guarantee you the words would not come out that way if it were not first filtered through prayer!
7.) Be Respectful.
I know I already said this, but I really cannot emphasize this enough!! To the women out there…you probably have no idea how disrespectful your tone of voice, body language, and facial expression can come off to your husband. I can say this because I’m guilty of it! Therefore….
8.) Speak in the Most Neutral Tone Possible.
Take away any attitude in your voice. Do you sound like a robot? No? Then, try again. I am serious! You should sound like a robot. There should be no tone in your voice. If there is a hint of attitude, it will adversely affect your husband and he will be more likely to shut down! When he shuts down, the conflict continues and creates a vicious cycle!
9.) Watch Your Body Language.
Try to appear relaxed. Don’t cross your arms or move your bodies away from each other. If you cross your arms or move away, you are showing signs of attitude and disrespect. Trust me, it will not help your cause. Instead, try to continue touching each other. Naturally, a woman will pull away if she is hurt, but what she really wants is to know she is loved. SO, husbands, hug your wives! Even if she pushes you away, pull her back in and hug her! (Unless, she is super super angry and needs space, this may be an exception. Or, maybe if there is some trauma history she might not want to be touched.) But, generally, a woman will want your reassurance of love, and physical touch is one way you can do that. Pursue your spouse, even if they are shutting down!
10.) Watch Your Eyebrows.
Do they look angry? Well, then, bring them back down! Seriously! Your eyebrows have a lot of power to communicate disrespect! Don’t do it, don’t let your eyebrows furrow and look angry… your conflict will only get worse. Don’t let your eyebrows put you at odds with your spouse! Remember, you’re on the same team!
11.) Deescalate the Situation.
Sometimes, it helps to have a code word, or a joke, to help deescalate the situation. My sister-in-law does this thing where she pinches her fingers and places it on her forehead/nose area. It’s her way of communicating, “Oh my goodness, you stress me out.” One day, we saw a picture of our nephew. He was only 2 years old, but he was pinching his fingers together on his forehead. I’m sure he wasn’t actually stressed, but it looked just like my sister-in-law and we thought it was hilarious. Now, whenever I get into a conflict with my husband, I will often joke and pinch my fingers and press them to my forehead. I am literally communicating, “Oh dear, I’m a bit stressed/exasperated with you right now!” But, it’s one way I can communicate it in a lighthearted and non-disrespectful way. I am communicating the message, but not adding all the disrespect that comes with it.
I say non-disrespectful, because my natural inclination would be to have angry eyebrows and a tone in my voice, which is interpreted as disrespect. It’s not natural for me to be respectful when I’m mad! So when we are in a conflict, I have to actively think, how can I NOT disrespect my husband when that is what comes most naturally to me!
12.) Reassure Your Spouse that You Love and Respect Them.
Literally say, “I love you,” “I respect you.” If you have done something that has inadvertently communicated you didn’t love your spouse or didn’t respect them, then you need to correct that. I would say most conflicts that occur take place because one spouse feels or thinks the other doesn’t love/respect/care about them. So, you have to correct the message that came across by reinforcing you DO love/respect/care! I also think having make-up sex is also a good way to communicate love and respect after a conflict. Maybe this is TMI, but I’m just being real here. It is a physical way to demonstrate love and respect to your partner and experience restored unity. Now, if you haven’t actually reconciled, then sex after a heated argument won’t do much for you. The goal is to actually forgive one another and then come together in unity.
Hope you find these tips useful! They have really spared my hubs and I from a lot of fighting! But we had had many productive conflicts! Leave a comment with which tip you plan to try and incorporate the next time you and your spouse get into a conflict!