Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two things to NEVER say

I make almost no promises to my children.  Why?  Because the moment that I do, something will happen that will derail me from fulfilling my promise.  While I am not a liar per se, my younger children will not likely understand the nuance.

Since you are not my children, I will make you this promise: conflict will visit your marriage.  Yeah, I know.  It's not a very risky prognostication--it's not like I promised a Viking Super Bowl in 2012.  The certainty that you and your bride will face conflict before the end of the month (or perhaps the end of the week) runs close to as sure a thing as you can get, and yet conflict in your marriage does not have to mean days and weeks of agony between husband and wife.  That ought never be. 

So how does one negotiate the minefield of conflict without getting blown to smithereens?  Good communication.

Expect to see lots of musings on communication in the days ahead.  Good communication is the oil in the marital engine. Without it, the slightest problem will grind the gears to a screeching halt. With it, the engine will purr with nary a hiccup.

Considering the vast dynamics of communication, I want to hit on two simple words that must NEVER be spoken to your bride especially during a conflict, never and always. Why? Let me ask you, do you always leave your socks at the foot of the hamper? Do you always leave the seat up? Do you always leave ketchup dribbling down the side of the bottle? As soon as your wife plays the always- or never-card, your brain sets in motion faster than the speed of light mentally recalling 365 separate trumps to her assertion. Always and never are almost always never true (sorry). We get so busy finding the loophole that we do not hear what our woman has to say which is really the root of the conflict.  Because we found five exceptions to her always/never, the confict festers on.

So what makes you think your wife is any different?  Trust me, always/never will not add bang to your argument. I suspect that you (like me) have dropped them once or twice during a disagreement with your bride and then felt like the boy scout spraying a can of lighter fluid upon smoldering embers--FAH-WHOOSH!! go the eyebrows. Poor kid never saw it coming. 

You'll be amazed at how not using those absolutes will diminish the escalation of any conflict. When you dismantle those two little atomic bombs out of your vocabulary, you'll find that you can better and more rationally describe the particular issue that has caused the conflict in the first place without indicting the character or conduct of your spouse with an unfair adverb.

Not using never and always will not end conflict in your marriage, but it will scale back the debris and fallout that you'll have to endure.  It will also help you to better lead your bride through conflict with respect and honor rather than putting you both on opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits."  ~ Proverbs 18:21

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