What You Should Say When You Confront Your Spouse

devotional_couple talking to each other.JPGLast week we shared how to get ready for a spousal confrontation … and we ended by promising to talk about what and how we say what needs to be said this week.  So here goes:

Deal with one issue at a time.  Too often we go after the root issue by attacking a long list of symptoms.  Rather than confronting all of individual lies … or not having access to cell phones … or experiencing a constant unwillingness to share details of their day, start by grouping all of those offenses into the big category of trust-busting activities.  The root issue that needs to be addressed:  “I can’t trust you!” 

Attack the problem not the person:  starting your confrontation off with a “You” statement like, “You are a liar and are up to no good … you’re always hiding things from me … will result in your spouse not hearing the issue you want to address. Instead, he or she will hear and respond to the personal attack of being a dishonest liar.  Which isn’t going to help either of you solve the problem!

A better way to address your issue is to use “I” statements.  “I am not feeling safe right now in our marriage … I am having trouble trusting you … because you have not been truthful … I would appreciate knowing where you are and what you’re doing. Can you feel the difference?

You have stated how you feel … why you feel that way … and what your spouse can do to remedy the problem …

Pick the right time and place:  You don’t want to have this conversation when tempers are flared, time is rushed and kids are present.  You are ready to talk about a problem when you can pray together before you talk about it.  Start by asking, “Can we have a safe conversation about something that is important?”  Safe means you are both ready to speak and respond appropriately.    If the answer is yes … start with a short prayer for wisdom and patience and then begin with your “I” statement script.

Don’t go too long.  Confrontations are uncomfortable for both of you.  Once you have made your point, ask your spouse to reflect back what you said and how you feel.  When you believe your spouse fully understands, give him or her a chance to respond.  This is not a time to argue or debate.  It is not a time to demand or wait for an apology.  It is a time to understand what and how both of you are feeling.  If you can work forward to a peaceful solution keep going … if not …

End your time by thanking your spouse for caring enough to listen.  Hopefully an apology comes … but you want it to be from the heart and not just to get out of the heat of the moment. 

The bigger payoff is the intimacy that will grow because of your ability to resolve a conflict in a loving and understanding way! 

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