Last week a couple came to me for pre-marital counseling.
The bride was uneasy—everything was fine, so what are they doing here with me? I explained that my approach is from a communications angle. I don’t have a structured format. Rather, I invite a couple to reflect on their styles of communicating—individually and together. What works? What doesn’t?
I ask a couple to give me some real life moments and we can use those to explore ways to improve their communication, and so improve the quality of their life—especially now, during this time when there is an abundance of stress.
The bride was still uneasy. Everything’s good—though at times, she said, she “might” be a bit too passive in their arguments—especially when he becomes his usual pigheaded self! Hmm. . .
The groom readily admitted that he’s competitive and enjoys arguing even when he knows he’s wrong. He admitted this is true even with his fiancée.
I asked the bride if she enjoyed arguing with him when he was in the “zone.” She didn’t—she hated it. But, she said it didn’t matter as she just shuts down and lets him have his way.
The groom jumped in, saying that he hated it when she shut down.
I asked if he heard why she shuts down. Yes, but. . .
“Then why do you do it?” the bride demanded. “I don’t know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
“I don’t want to argue. All I want is to get what I want,” the bride matter-of-factly explained.
“There, that’s the kind of attitude I don’t like. I feel like she’s disrespecting me,” said the groom. “She doesn’t take what I say seriously. I explain things logically to her. I give her the reasons why we need to do something a certain way and she ignores everything I say.”
“Is that true?” I asked. “Do you ignore? Do you intend to disrespect him?”
“I know what he’s going to say—I just don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to know the reasons why I can’t have something when I feel I should have it. The problem is he thinks with his head and I think with my heart. He doesn’t respect me when he doesn’t listen to why I want something.”
Exasperated, the groom, tossed out, “she doesn’t have any reasons for anything. All she has are just feelings.”
Let me freeze frame here—does any of this sound familiar? I want to point out that the couple were very polite in the way they spoke to each other—this was not a shouting match. However, they clearly felt frustrated.
So, let me try to distill an hour and a half conversation into some manageable thoughts.
to be continued. . .
to be continued. . .