Solving Problems without Arguing

problem solving

Solving Problems without Arguing

It’s no secret that arguments lead to breakups. And the best relationships split power equally among the two. That’s why learning how to fight right without hurting each other’s feelings, or taking one or another person’s power away are the secrets to an impenetrable relationship. But how do you solve problems without arguing? Fighting isn’t essential to couplehood.

Though disagreement is inevitable, getting angry or fighting is a choice.  Here are three steps culled from the book, Getting to Yes, that can eliminate arguing from your relationship, equalize power and make things run far more smoothly. This strategy also helps reconcile two parts in conflict inside an individual as well. So if you are suffering from inner conflicts try this strategy too. Generally speaking compromise is touted as the best way to solve issues. But if one person wants to live in Chicago and the other in Miami, settling in Nashville isn’t going to make anyone happy. It’s a lose-lose instead of a win-win. Compromise has its place but not in situations such as this. However a win-win solution leaves both parties satisfied.

The first step is to recognize the conflict. Say it’s a Friday night. One person wants to go out. The other wants to say in. The first step is to recognize that both parties are indeed in conflict. This sounds easy. But it isn’t always really. Sometimes one partner will go out only to make the other happy but harbor unseen resentment. Instead, both parties will voice that there is a conflict in preferences openly and honestly, without holding back. That doesn’t mean fighting. It merely means recognizing the issue. Next, instead of advocating for your position, trying to find both parties underlying concerns. One person feels that they aren’t spending enough time with their friends, while the other is exhausted from a particularly grinding week at work. Finally, the couple decides on something that will settle both parties underlying concerns. The couple decides to go out and visit with friends at happy hour. Then they decide to come home and relax. Or perhaps they have a nice dinner together, while one goes out and the other stays home. These two solutions are a win-win for each.

The solution has to fix each person’s concerns. That’s important. The couple also has to be patient and communicate clearly so that they can dig past what the person says they want to their actual concern. It’s important that each person find and then communicate their underlying concerns so that these can be fully addressed. For more advice read, Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury.

Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

long term

Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

Sometimes you are at a point in a relationship where you are so in love, everything seems perfect. You and your partner have been together for quite some time and you are expecting things to progress. But when you broach the idea of marriage, the other person gets anxious or defensive. Perhaps they don’t believe in marriage. Maybe they’ve been down that road before. Or maybe you get a noncommittal “we’ll be married, someday” without a hard date to count on. If you are with someone who is eluding your efforts to get married, or just says they don’t believe in it, while you do, what do you do? You could hand them an ultimatum, either marry me or I will find someone who will. But that usually doesn’t end well. Should you stay with someone who doesn’t want to get married? That depends on a number of factors. First, are they against marriage in total or just marrying you? If the relationship is mutually beneficial, warm, open, loving and stable but marriage is against your partner’s personal philosophy then you can negotiate and come to some sort of compromise. If this person is just biding their time with you until someone better comes along then this person is not the one for you.

Another important thing to do is to search your feelings about marriage. Why is it that you feel as though you need to get married? For some, it has something to do with their culture or religion. Others are being pressured by a family member. It could be something you have always dreamed of. Or it might be because all of your friends have gotten married. Start to uncover what your real feelings are about getting married and why you feel that way. It will give you a better perspective on why it is so important to you and how to address the issue. If you just want to walk down the aisle, have a great reception and be the center of attention, think of the aftermath. You are supposed to spend decades of life with this person, living side-by-side. So you want to make sure your desire to get married is genuine. Then consider the person themselves. Is this who you really want to spend the rest of your life with? Do they love you? Are they supportive? What’s the communication situation like? How is the sex? If you were both thrown into a crisis situation together, would your relationship make it through? You don’t want to set yourself up for divorce.

Don’t just wait around for a proposal and brood. That will never make it happen. If you’ve still decided this person is right for you, discuss all the insights that you’ve come to with your partner. Don’t pressure them with an ultimatum. They will probably pull away from you. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, slowly get your partner used to the notion. Introduce things subtly and make the idea seem like theirs. British psychologist Anjula Mutanda says to ask your partner, “If we were to get married, what would be your ideal way of doing it?” Agree with their answer and make it sound as if you are very impressed. Keep subtly moving things along like this and see if you get anywhere. If you want to take a more straightforward approach, sit them down in a comfortable place when you are both in a good mood. Make sure it is free of distractions. Compliment your partner and tell them what they’ve done right and what personality traits you adore about them. Tell them how close you feel to them and how much the relationship means to you. Let them know the reasons why you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Explain to them in a calm manner why marriage is so important to you and why you want that person to be them. Tell them you aren’t pressuring them or giving them an ultimatum. Let them know that you can make each other so happy. And then give them time to think about your thoughts and feelings and let the matter drop. Don’t blame. Don’t be defensive. Instead, use a positive, complimentary and romantic approach. If they still refuse to marry you, you’ll have to be ready to either move on or settle for not ever being married. But if they really love you and you were meant to be together, you two will find a way forward. For tips on being extremely persuasive in your quest read, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.

You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

COUPLE-TALKING

You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

Sometimes it seems like you could hear your spouse’s voice anywhere, even in a crowded train station, a bomb testing zone or the demolition floor of a construction site. This may be a slight exaggeration. But the remarkable truth is you can hear your spouse better than you can strangers, at least according to a recent study. Researchers at Canada’s Queens University used couples whose ages ranged from 44 to 79. They asked these participants to read a script. These readings were recorded and played back for their spouse. But at the same time this recording played another played simultaneously. And the voice on the other recording was the same age and gender as the listener’s spouse. At certain points in the experiment they would ask the listener what their spouse was saying, while at others they asked what the stranger said. Participants could understand their own spouse’s voice far more readily than the strangers. This research was published in the journal Psychological Science.

When the stranger’s voice was listened to, the participant’s age often had an effect on whether they could make out what the stranger was saying or not. Middle aged listeners could more readily focus in on the stranger’s voice than their older counterparts. While the middle aged have an easier time tuning out their spouse, older people don’t have that luxury. It’s good to know that we can hear our spouse’s well. But are we truly listening to what they are saying? And if not, why not? Sure the stereotype is one of tuning out our spouse. But the most successful couple’s know that positive communication and active listening are the cornerstones of their success. Practice active listening with your partner. If you feel that one or another is nagging, address it. Tell them how it makes you feel. And brainstorm other ways to communicate that are less irritating to one and more effective in causing action in the other. For more advice read, How to Speak Your Spouse’s Language: Ten Easy Steps to Great Communication from One of America’s Foremost Counselors by H. Norman Wright.

Small, Simple ways to improve your Marriage

bed

Small, Simple ways to improve your Marriage

It isn’t easy staying married, as today’s divorce rate can attest. But it isn’t always big problems that break up a married couple. Often it’s a buildup of little things that turn into a tidal wave of problems which ultimately wash away the couple’s married future. Fight back against the tide of tiny destroyers. Here are some small, simple ways to improve your marriage right now and move forward from this instant on. Follow these and the road ahead will be much smoother.

If you want to stay close, when you are wrong, apologize. Don’t insist you are right for pride’s sake. Your pride will get between you and your spouse. When you are in an argument, don’t only view it from your perspective. Try and see things from their point of view. Use your imagination. How would you feel? What would your reaction be? Putting yourself in their shoes will calm your anger, give you a little sympathy and help to organize the negotiation phase, conjuring up a plan on how to satisfy both of you without harming either. Laugh when you two are together. It is far more important to enjoy each other’s company. It will make your bond strong and resilient.

Pencil sex in if you two are so busy and don’t have time for a long, drawn out romantic encounter. A marriage without physical intimacy gets dull and fades. But being intimate together, even if it’s just a quickie a couple of times a week, will make you closer, release tension and help keep the spark alive. It’s important to make sure that you attack life as a team. That’s why a weekly meeting is important. Instead of killing the relationship with nagging and arguments, schedule a time each week to tackle important issues and solve them. Make a running list throughout the week on what is to be covered. Solve your problems at that time and spend some other alone time during the week enjoying each other’s company. Talk about the little things in life, good and bad. Talk about everything. Keep the lines of communication open and free.

Make sure you schedule some time for your own hobbies, friends, interests, and so on. Don’t yell. It doesn’t solve anything. It only makes matters worse. If you want to yell excuse yourself and go yell in another room, in a pillow or in your car while it’s parked. Then when you calm down schedule a time to revisit the issue, discussing how it makes you feel and possible solutions. Show gratitude. Thank the other person for what they do. And expect gratitude in return too. For some fun relationship advice read, Advice for a Happy Marriage: From Miss Dietz’s Third-Grade Class by Debi Dietz Crawford and Friends.

Overcoming Choice Overload in Online Dating

choice overload

Overcoming Choice Overload in Online Dating

Today with so many dating websites and apps, we can very quickly become overwhelmed with choices. With Tinder we can swipe so many faces and weigh decisions on people who hardly say anything about themselves, whom we have little but a couple of pictures worth of evidence to go on. Other choices are monstrous. You can spend over two hours answering OKCupid questions for comparability. eHarmony is similar in this vein. Yet, if you talk to couples you don’t see an overwhelming amount coming from these sites. So what’s the deal, are all these choices really making us happier and better able to focus in on the right person or is it just a menial, anxiety ridden drag? Over ten years ago a book mirroring this very phenomenon, The Choice Paradox: Why More is Less by psychologist Barry Schwartz made its way to the fore. In it, Schwartz argues that we are bombarded in the modern world by a barrage of meaningless choices. A look at the wall of drinks available at the local convenience store is just one example. Schwartz argues that this “Choice overload” causes us to make our standards too high, fail to meet them and feel guilty in the aftermath. If there is any explanation about how some of us date online, this is it.

Schwartz has resurfaced as of late being interviewed by a variety of media sources about his opinion on the rise of social media. The phenomenon he said has only increased anxiety, now in the form of things like FOMO (fear of missing out). Internet daters today are fraught with this very thing, going through profile after profile, on date after meaningless date and never looking past the surface, never giving a relationship a chance to take root. On Tinder for instance, it’s so easy to swipe right and overlook someone that could be perfect for you. But how would you know? Online dating has many pitfalls. Sometimes we spread ourselves too thin and chat with too many people at once. It’s hard to keep each person straight. At other times we are in complete limbo, emailing back and forth with someone we never know if we’ll see in person. People come in and drop off all the time with no reason or explanation. Sure it’s brought on more choices, but there’s also more confusion to go with it, as to how best to proceed. It’s almost always helplessly hoping that something works out and being disappointed. So should you find someone that’s good enough and stick with them, even if Mr. or Ms. Perfect could still be out there, somewhere in the farthest reaches of the internet?

In Schwartz’s experiments with choices in consumer products, “satisficers,” or those who don’t need the very best smart phone, latest TV or sharpest car were consistently the happiest, whereas “maximizers” or those who needed to have the very best at all times, were constantly let down. “Maximizers” were also less satisfied in their career and more likely to be diagnosed with depression. According to Schwartz’s view you should settle for something that is acceptable. Schwartz said in a Reddit chat last year that for a selection process, say for example high school juniors should pick five colleges, not five times that much. Why not do the same for dating? Use a site where you can view profiles, pick your top five, the ones you have the most in common with and have the best feeling about, and invest in them, instead of 25? When having a list of traits you want in a partner why not have a shorter, more manageable and practical list? Be flexible. See past little things. Instead of having to have a certain net worth as a requirement, consider someone who pays all their bills on time. The person you went out with may not have been the best kisser, but they can learn. You can teach them. Consider what is good enough for you and stick to it. “‘Good enough’ is almost always good enough,” Schwartz said. It doesn’t mean giving up on your dream of finding the perfect person. It means understanding that there is no such thing, being practical and finding your happiness here in this world. Usually, something clicks into place with someone and things just feel right. But that will never happen if like a Tinder jaunt you just keep on swiping right. For more useful advice read, Cupid’s Guide to Online Dating – A Practical Guide to Finding Love by R.C. Lane.