When you and your partner are in a situation of conflict, has it ever seemed to you that the person you are married to is not the person you were attracted to initially? That’s not uncommon, but there is a reason for it, and there is a path to prevent escalating the conflict, achieve a solution, and to avoid such problems in the future. A well-placed first step is with straight thinking. Take a look at this:
“You’re not the person I married!” he yelled. “You used to take it — the pressure I mean. You’re home all day and all you have to do is look after the kids and do the laundry, and every night when I come home, you’re always upset, crying and angry and the house is a mess and kids are out of control. Look! You haven’t even cleaned up the kitchen.”
He did it — one, two, three, four times! Can’t he think straight? He begins his sentences four times with you or you’re. Well, I have to admit it: we all do it when we are not thinking straight. But such thinking escalates the conflict.
When I was only 18, I read a book — Straight and Crooked Thinking, by R. H. Thouless — and the phrase “straight and crooked thinking” has never left my mind. I’m thankful for that. I have needed its reminder. Let’s see how many crooked thoughts the man had in the paragraph above:
- Starting his sentences with “you” instead of “I.” He thinks that attacking is the way to change people. How crooked is that? Always start with “I.” It will save a lot of emotional heat.
- Yelling raises the emotions of both people. When have high emotional levels been the best conditions for clear thinking? Keep the volume down!
- He generalizes when his generalizations are untrue: “…all you have to do…, always…” Maybe most of the time at worst, but not all or always. We generalize because it makes our arguments seem stronger when, in fact, it opens up holes in them. More accuracy, please!
- He falsely interprets the facts. It’s harder to control and raise the most complex organism in the universe (a child) than to manage a multi-million dollar business or be a rocket scientist. If you don’t believe that, you’re off your rocker.
- Since when is crying and anger irrefutable evidence of personality change? It is an indication that something needs to change — for everyone’s benefit.
Well, that’s enough. Don’t you think this man needs help? His thinking is tortured by misunderstanding and emotional abuse. Perhaps one day he will learn to think straight.
The best next step to heal a relationship in crisis is to learn to understand each other: why he thinks the way he does, why she does the things she does, etc. It involves more than just “communication.”
INNERKINETICS, Your Blueprint to Excellence and Happiness a great resource to set you on the road to understanding that can help you develop the relationship you dreamed of when you first became attracted to each other. Understanding ourselves and our partners provides the biggest advantage to developing a long lasting and mutually satisfying relationship.