Having marriage communication problems? Take the following quiz to help pinpoint a possible communication weak point. Your perceptions of what is true and what is false will indeed take you in very different directions:
1. I believe that criticism can be a very positive behavior in resolving marital conflict. True___ False___
2. I respond very well to criticism from my spouse; it motivates me to be better. True___ False___
3. Neither my partner nor I become defensive when we criticize or judge one another. True___ False___
4. Our best solutions to marital issues result from blame and relationship score keeping. True___ False___
5. It is easy for me to stay emotionally engaged when my partner nags and criticizes me. True___ False___
You likely found this little quiz very simple, but perhaps also felt some pain and remorse. If you are like virtually all of the couples we work with at LIFE Marriage Retreats, you answered “false” to every question, or at least to four out of the five.
The painful part of this little self and relationship examination is that even if you answered “false” to every question, in the real and sometimes stressful world of marriage you probably have noted signs of criticism, disrespect, and a decline in positive emotional connection in your communication.
Perhaps you are finding that you and/or your partner just can’t seem to stop the pattern of criticism, blame, and defensiveness. You may find yourself starting an important conversation with the best intentions but then a button is pushed and the negative pattern begins again.
Now take another brief quiz:
1. We seem to communicate better when we are both accountable. True___ False___
2. It feels good when my partner understands my perspective, even if he/she does not agree with it. True___ False___
3. We can find better solutions when we stay open to one another’s point of view. True___ False___
4. I feel safe talking with a person who is honest in kind and patient ways. True___ False___
You likely answered “true” to each of the questions. Somehow we know that the virtues noted in the quiz are indeed the way to peace and safety in our communication, but still the buttons get pushed and off we go again in a negative direction.
It is our experience that people can’t simply commit, for example, to “not criticize anymore” and find long-term success. There must be something very real built into their hearts and minds that actively replaces the negative tendencies. Things such as accountability, perspective, forgiveness, and trust.
A LIFE Marriage Retreat is, in large part, a natural and achievable process of moving the negative reactions and behaviors out while concurrently moving positive responses and ways of being in.
For today I encourage you to set aside the vices of the first quiz and replace them with the virtues of the second, and promise that you will see immediate and positive results through those changes.
If you find that you need a guide in creating lasting positive change in yourself and your relationship, please give LIFE Marriage Retreats a call at 877-376-7127. You will find the way through marriage communication problems (and other stumbling blocks) and find lasting joy.