Category Archives: Communication
QUESTION: If your spouse does not give you what you need, is it better (or more damaging) to expect your spouse to live up to your need or to lower your standard? For example – my husband and I were having an issue. As we tried to figure out why I react the way I do, some very painful things from my past were brought to mind. I already know that he is terrible at empathy, but eventually he tried to comfort me, and even offered to pray for me. I was very touched by this, but when he started to pray, his prayer was actually more about himself, how he feels like he is being attacked by Satan, and how even what’s going on with me is affecting him. In the end, I did not have any of my needs met, but I do know that he was trying. He was sincere and I appreciated the effort. My question: Is it better for me to not expect him to meet my needs and appreciate the effort, or frustrate him by letting him know? I know that you are very busy and I appreciate it in advance if you are able to clarify this!
ANSWER: The times it makes sense to lower an expectation is when
Robert Smith commented on Why Can You Hear What I Feel? He writes…
I understand your point — that we should validate another person’s feelings and show empathy — but there are some people who have a very distorted, self-centered view of the world. Their feelings really are invalid, at times.
For example, suppose a person is a hypochondriac. They say they feel sick, but they are not. Their feelings do not change the fact that they are healthy. Conversely, suppose a person feels healthy, but a deadly cancer is starting to grow inside his/her body. They feel fine, but that does not change the fact that they are sick.
We can extend this analogy to the Christian faith. A non-believer may feel that they are doing just fine with “the man upstairs.” In reality, they are very sick, and need healing in the form of Jesus Christ. A believer may feel guilt for sins for which they are forgiven, but it is not a valid feeling because Jesus paid the price.
My Comments on Robert’s Comments:
First, thank you Robert for taking time
A few years ago I was in a contentious meeting with a group of church leaders., though it had not started that way. At one point, I metaphorically threw up my hands and queried, “Can you at least understand why I feel as I do about this?” One brother intoned, “No, because your emotions do not fit the facts.”
Hmm…emotions…facts…emotions should fit the facts…hmm. No one in the room doubted the accuracy of that declaration. No one that is except for
A dear friend who is quite literally the most gifted writer I know suggested I read a certain novel to expand my own writing ability. I sent him the following a couple days ago…
After slogging through 64 pages, hacking at extraneous vines of flowing words in hope of discovering an occasional sentence that advanced the plot, even an inch or two, I finally succumbed and gave up the search. If the literary jungle for brilliant writers is that difficult to traverse, I shall swing on the veranda hammock, mosquito net unfurled, insouciantly watching great authors move through that wilderness while harboring a secret pleasure that I am not among them.
Pardon the delay between Steps 3.3 and 3.4. Back on track now…
We shared four of the steps for reconciliation in previous blogs. We conclude now with steps 4, 5, and 6. If you put all the blogs together, you have one of the most effective ways to reconcile — or help others reconcile — available today. No brag meant. Instead this is based on great research.
When I consulted with a large jewelry chain years ago, one of their executives told me that if a customer came in unhappy, nothing a store manager could do would make them happy until the customer felt the store manager understood WHY they were unhappy. He said, “We could replace the jewelry, give them their money back, and they’d still leave mad if they didn’t feel that we cared. They need to be able to tell us about their unhappiness with us and know that we heard it and understood it.”
Same with any relationship, including parent-child, married partners, romantic partners, and good friends. We all want to be validated
If you choose to reconcile with someone who hurt you, there is a process that works. Reconciling without thinking through a valid process may lead to more hurt if the same things happen again. Maybe worse than last time.
Though no process guarantees success, and there is always an element of risk in reconciliation, there is a six step process that can help healing occur faster and help prevent relapses. In “part 1 – decide whether to reconcile” and “part 2 – softness”, we explained the first two steps. Now for the third.
Everett Worthington, Jr. PhD, created the model we use for step three. He calls it the Forgiveness Pyramid, though I’ve been unable to find it drawn or displayed in pyramid form. It consists of
In a previous blog, we discussed the first of six steps that facilitate reconciliation.
If a person decides to reconcile a relationship where damage has been done by either or both persons, it is essential to do step two. It is the most important, though the most challenging, aspect of reconciliation.
Written by Guest Blogger Andrea Frazer
In this post I mentioned how I’m living as a “new” Christian with an Atheist husband. I’m attempting to honor my husband in my actions, even when my feelings aren’t following suit. You know, those “I feel sorry for myself sitting with the two kids at church alone while EVERY OTHER COUPLE has their little brood in between them like baby ducks clustered between Christian Barbie and Ken book-ends” kind of feelings.)
David Code had a great article at HuffingtonPost.com. The article discussed how married couples often argue and even divorce because they allow the stresses of the world to negatively affect the way they treat each other.
I’ve seen this before with couples who attend our LovePath 911 workshop for troubled marriages. Years of allowing the outside world to poison a marriage can lead to serious resentment and bitterness. This is a very serious issue.
To help couples communicate with each other in a positive way and a way that leaves the world outside, I wrote an article about marriage communication.
We all must learn that our words matter. Don’t let the world ruin your relationship with the one who is your partner and supporter.