Just like any other married couple, we have our disagreements. Have you ever asked, "How does that make you feel?" in the middle of an argument with your spouse? Me, neither. And I know enough not to mention my husband's departed mother during an argument. Although it would be easier to blame her for his faults, since she can no longer defend herself and she raised him, didn't she? I'm sure my daughters-in-law have a few thoughts about me during arguments with my sons.
I don't go to psychological help books like, His Needs, Her Needs; ScreamFree Marriage; and Getting to 'Yes.' Some couples find marital retreats helpful, where they practice the avoidance of name-calling and placing blame. Can't I practice that in my kitchen?
Today researchers have discovered ways to BUILD better family arguments, including those between siblings. That's right - build an argument. In a N.Y. Times article on April 14, 2013, Bruce Feiler discusses seven lessons from various psychologists' and professors' research. Here they are:
1. Do not bring up an issue that bothers you between 6 and 8 p.m. Women, not men, are highly stressed during those hours (can anyone guess why??).
2. Physical posture matters! Sit at the same height to talk to each other, with feet on the floor, and look in the other person's eyes. Do NOT cross your arms over your chest like Chief Sitting Bull.
3. All parties should sit on CUSHIONED chairs. A soft cushion makes people more accommodating and generous. (Perhaps pillows would suffice, if there aren't cushioned chairs.) Parties should sit next to each other, instead of opposite, to increase collaboration. So far, they're not recommending hand-holding.
4. In a heated argument, go to the balcony for five minutes. If you don't have a balcony, just separate. Come up with alternative solutions that would be acceptable to you before coming back together. New options might emerge - or not.
5. Be sure to get out an egg timer before starting an argument (?!). Each party should have three minutes to state his case. After that, researchers found that people repeat themselves and voices get louder with each repetition. If this begins to happen, go to the balcony for five minutes (you will cool off quicker if the temperature is below freezing). Just be sure to come back.
6. Never use the word "You." Use "I" or "We." The pronouns "he" or "she" should be avoided, since focus will divert to another party (perhaps, rightfully so?).
7. "I'm sorry" is necessary because it may describe how you feel. If it isn't how you feel, say it anyway. Apparently it will indicate you're taking responsibility for the impact you've had on someone else. Try to avoid all sarcasm as you say the words.
I have no additional comments to make on these findings. I'm sure some of you might, though.
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.