Payne & Associates, PLLC

If you have been following our blog, you know the significance of establishing effective communication strategies; falling into the habit of sparring with your partner rather than searching for the underlying reason for the discord can establish a pattern that is hard to break. Should the habit develop into a permanent conversation style and serve as one reason for divorce, this method of handling disagreement will not dissipate upon filing for separation.

If you and your spouse have decided to separate, breaking yourselves of the destructive habits that shape how you verbally engage is still important as these habits will determine the tenor of your proceedings.

Following these tips can make you aware of the factors that encourage disagreement; they're also applicable for married couples who fight and are fighting to stay together:

1. Reflect on a disagreement and identify triggers for the event.

Do you find that you and your spouse fight about the same issues, yet you fail to resolve the conflict? In the aftermath of the conflict, reflect on the event and see if you notice an established pattern. For example, does your spouse respond poorly when you mention your family? Do you become defensive when he mentions his workload? Locating the triggers that spark destructive conversations may help you to avoid fighting if you refuse to let those issues determine the course of the conversation.

2. Find a neutral location.

Choose a safe place in your house where both of you feel at ease. Finding a neutral location for engaging in discussion may reduce the tension.

3. Avoid using personal information against your spouse.

When one spouse reveals personal information in confidence, the other spouse should not use these details as fodder during a fight. Calling attention to secrets shared will harm a relationship in two ways: it shows lack of respect for the spouse and prevents the spouse from opening up in the future.

4. Listen and then speak.

Rather than verbally engaging when the argument begins, focus on listening. If you view disagreements as a competition, you may find tallying the quantity of your comments to be more important than the quality of the discussion. It is rare that a positive discussion can take place when people are talking over each other instead of giving each other the space to share their opinions. In choosing to listen, you validate your spouse's perspective and may unearth the real reason for the argument.

5. Maintain close contact.

Marriage counselors recommend staying in close contact with a spouse during a heated exchange. Holding hands during a disagreement benefits a couple because this action decreases stress hormones, provides a sense of security and boosts the hormones that encourage bonding. It's much easier to fight with an individual who's across the room than one sitting in close proximity, fingers intertwined with yours.

Maintaining civility during a disagreement takes a strong will especially when individuals feel they need to defend themselves. In the long run, though, remembering that your sparring partner is your partner in marriage may encourage the restraint that should be exercised in a tense time.

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Payne & Associates, PLLC
206 North Spruce Street, Suite 1B
Winston Salem, NC 27101

Phone: 336-283-2937
Fax: 336-217-8784
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