This is far and away the best tip for how to discuss difficult things with your spouse I’ve ever come across: forgive them BEFORE you bring it up. Get the anger out first, then discuss.
The theme for the month of September will be all about my personal marriage wins. Each month I send my email subscribers a “win” I’ve had for the month, so the posts this month are taken directly from those emails I’ve sent out. My email list is where I get pretty personal, so if you want in on this (and duh, you definitely want in on this), just sign up right at the bottom of this post. 🙂
From October 15, 2015:
So, this week, I keep thinking about this idea from Dr. Fred Luskin’s book Forgive For Love. The idea is to forgive first, and fix the problem later. Here’s how he explains it:
“The mistake all [couples] make while under the influence of the stress chemicals is to blame their mental and physical distress on the person who hurt them. . . . Like many other people in similar situations, they now had a second problem—managing their anger, pain, and despair. This second problem can quickly become more dangerous to a marriage than the original disagreement. . . . Forgiveness allows a couple to resolve the second problem so that they can realistically address the first one. . . It is up to you to manage your emotional reactions, not the responsibility of your partner. Once you are able to forgive, you can deal with the first problem with dignity and openness, not blame.” – Fred Luskin
Read it again. Let it sink in.
Isn’t that so great??? When we feel mistreated, misunderstood or bothered by our spouses, we can and should address the problem with them. BUT first we forgive and then we address. This will eliminate the anger and bitterness which most fights stem from.
Genius! I tried that this week actually. I was bothered by something, but before I brought it up with Rich, I prayed to have any anger taken away and that I could forgive. It worked great!! I think just desiring to forgive and focusing on that was key. The conversation that ensued was SO much more productive than it would have been if I had been angry or bitter.
Have any of you tried this?? A common marriage problem I face is how to know what to bring up with Rich and what to just keep my mouth shut about. Anyone else have this problem?? How do you know what to address and what to keep to yourself? I’d love it if you would respond and share any thoughts you have!
Ok, that was my email back in October and this is me now. A few months ago, I received an email from a reader wondering how to know when she was in the right and when she was in the wrong so she could figure out what problems to bring up with her husband and what to drop. Our panel had some EXCELLENT suggestions to that dilemma in this post and this post.
I didn’t answer that particular prompt, but if I had, my response would be this: forgive before you fix. It basically solves everything and helps A TON when you bring up difficult issues with your spouse because as Dr. Luskin says with your anger out of the way you can focus on solving the actual problem at hand instead of having anger confuse and blow up the entire issue.
If you are thinking, “Ok, sounds great, but how exactly do I forgive something my spouse does that bothers me without actually talking it through with them?” you are in good company. I think about the advice to forgive before you fix all the time actually and I’m often stuck in the mentality, yes but how?
I’m happy to report I think I’m finally onto something with how to address this specifically and its in next week’s post!
How’s that for a teaser?
So, now that you know what goes on in these emails, to get them in the future, just click that pretty little subscribe button: