Tag Archives: Assertiveness

Communication: A Two-Way Street (Part Three) “My Feelings, My Responsibility”

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As we begin the third part of our ongoing posts on communication among couples, we will discover how our emotions and behaviors can derail our attempts to get our needs met in our relationship communication department.

A problem arises when we take our mate’s communication defensively. This is especially true if what they are sharing is negative—and even more so if it is true. How many times do we hear something that offends us and our listening abruptly shuts down? Many times the other person will say something that triggers a “hot button” in us, especially when the relationship has been on shaky ground. That’s when we stop listening and start to riffle through our imaginary backpack and pull out as much ammunition as possible. We lie in wait, anticipating the second they will take a breath, and then we pounce, unloading our full arsenal of defenses against our spouse. It matters not whether what is being said is accurate; we feel attacked and hurt and therefore we attack. Communication will never be effective if we take everything personally. We need to practice listening, not defending.

Understand that when someone expresses how they feel about something, it’s how they feel! If someone expresses how one of your behaviors led them to feel hurt, listen. It doesn’t necessarily matter what your motivation was for the behavior (if it involves you
at all). Sometimes we hurt people without meaning to. If your husband gets hurt because you didn’t get around to reading the paper he wrote for his college class, don’t get defensive; it’s how he feels. As discussed earlier, just because a particular situation elicits a certain feeling does not necessarily mean the feeling is appropriate, but we can acknowledge that it still exists. Allow this understanding to move you to a place of non-defensiveness.

Each person is responsible for their own feelings and how they behave with regard to those feelings. All too often, the other person takes responsibility for their spouse’s feelings. This is why one person, usually the husband, may feel obligated to fix their wives. Even though you may have elicited a negative emotional response in someone, you are not responsible for what they do with it. Our obligation is to do what is scripturally right.

Be aware that there are ways to express yourself without causing your mate to feel backed into a corner. Presentation is everything. When you want to express how you feel in a particular situation, use neutral words to make the point, and don’t accuse. When you start a sentence with the word “You,” understand that now you are blaming the person for how and why you feel the way you do. In many cases, when someone does something that hurts you, they are not even aware of it. Remember, the world does not revolve around you. Sometimes all it requires is the practice of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Other times you may want to discuss the issue, but be sure to take responsibility for your own feelings.

How effective are you at being assertive when it comes to your spouse? If you are not, what prevents it and what will you need to do to change that?

We will continue our discussion on communication in my next post. We will move deeper into the topic of assertiveness and active listening.

Until next time, be blessed!

©2018 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

 

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Filed under Assertiveness, Behavior, Communication, Emotions

Communication: A Two-Way Street (Part Two) Considering the Male Factor

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As promised in my previous post we will continue to address communication and focus on what culture has done to inhibit male communication as well as how transparency can cause communication to blossom.

For men, expressing how we feel about things can be a foreign concept. Uncomfortable to say the least. Some men are raised to conceal their true feelings. In fact, our society seems to recognize only one acceptable male emotion: anger. Look at the movies we watch; you rarely see the men in films express emotions other than anger. It’s hard to imagine Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, or any of the males represented in movies say, “Please pass me a tissue.” Guys, take a deep breath; it’s just you and me here. Guy to guy, can you honestly say that you have no other emotions? You’ve never experienced fear, frustration, anxiety, or any number of other feelings? Of course not!

Men experience the same range of emotions that women do. The problem is that they tend to filter and display their emotional responses through anger, and that way nobody will think they are weak. How weak is that? Let’s understand that men are not women, nor should they behave like them. However, many men need to step out of the fear of what other men think and learn a lesson in transparency, most definitely in your marital relationships.

Few men would consider David of the Old Testament a weak example of manhood. From his youth, David’s journey exemplified masculinity—giant killer, anointed king, strong leader and motivator, a man after God’s own heart. He was courageous yet benevolent, definitely a man’s man. David was not perfect; he had many setbacks as well. David was a man of passion who had no problem expressing himself emotionally.

I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
Psalm 6:6-7

David was able to lay it all out before God with honesty and transparency. This is what our wives want from us, honesty and transparency. They want to be let into our world, and they want us to be part of their world. Showing love to your partner involves taking the time to listen to them and hear what they have to say.

Trust is only built from a level of transparency. Having said that, we need to understand that both spouses must be a safe haven for communication and honesty. Communication is a two-way street. The sender of a message has to feel safe in being assertive, or stating what they want and need in their relationship. You may not always get what you want, but you should have no fear of expressing those wants and needs to your loved one. An example of an assertive statement might go like this: “I realize that you would like to get a hamburger for dinner, but we always go for burgers. I was hoping we could do something a little more fancy, something we seldom do. Would you be okay with going for sushi?”

©2018 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Assertiveness, Behavior, Beliefs, Communication, Differences, Emotions, Male Leadership