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Anatomy Of An Argument (The Boat)

 An Actual Argument
What Was Really Being Said
What Was Actually Happening (The Process of Shutting Down)
What To Do Next Time
The Contract Of Commitment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Actual Argument (The Boat)

 Below is a typical argument between spouses. Read the argument once through in it’s entirety.  Then go back and read each line. To find out what the person really meant, just click on the link at the end of each passage.

  1. (H) Let’s go on the boat.
     
  1. (W) I don’t want to right now.  I’ve got to prepare for work tomorrow.
     
  1. (H) What do you mean you don’t want to? Yesterday you said you did want to.  What’s with you Julie?
     
  1. (W) I told you before I didn’t want to go but YOU WEREN’T LISTENING.
     
  1. (H) I was listening.  This morning YOU SAID you didn’t want to go…But the night before YOU SAID you did.  And then today YOU TOLD ME you don’t even like the boat.  Then I said so if you don’t like the boat, then why do we even have the boat? Let’s just get rid of it then!
     
  1. (W) Fine. I’m going on the boat.  Now let’s pull into the store for some bratwurst.
     
  1. (H) No.  You don’t want to go on the boat. That’s fine. Stay at home.  Now what leftovers do we have in the fridge?
     
  1. (W) I’m going on the boat, what do we need at the store?
     
  1. ((H) No. We’ll get something at home.

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What Was Really Being Said

  1. (H) Honey, I love you.  I love the water. I love the boat.  I really look forward to Sunday after Church when you, me and Graham can have a nice quiet time on the lake. (Back)
     
  1. (W) I love you too and would really enjoy it.  But I’ve got a lot on my mind with my new job starting tomorrow.  This is the first new job I’ve had in 17 years.  I can’t articulate all I’m feeling but I know I’m nervous and a little scared.  I’m worried I won’t fit in or I’ll make a bad impression. I want to take care of some things so I’ll look good on the job.  I better stay at home today. (Back)
     
  1. (H) What’s going on here?  (Husband gets indignant) I’m getting mixed signals.  Why didn’t you tell me before that you didn’t want to go?  I feel let down and slightly betrayed. You know I really looked forward to being with you.  It’s not just the boat.  It’s having a great time with YOU and THE BOAT.  As my wife you should know how important this is to me.  I thought it would be important to you too.  But if you say yes one minute and then no the next minute, then it looks like you don’t really care about my needs after all.  I’m hurt, No I’m angry.  Why would you do this to me? Don’t you care?  (Back)
     
  1. (W) Husband, I’m very preoccupied about things and I thought you’d be more sensitive to my situation.  I told you before I didn’t want to go but you don’t remember that.  Can’t you see I’m nervous and scared about my new job?  The boat must be more important to you than I am.  You don’t listen to me and I feel it’s because on some level you just don’t care. Why is the boat more important than me?  I’m hurt and there’s no use talking about it. Things will never change.
    (Back)
     
  1. (H) YOU’RE WRONG. I WAS TOO LISTENING. And when I’m through I’ll prove I’m right and you’re wrong! Do you hear? !  (Back)
     
  1. (W) Fine. I’m not going to be the bad guy here. I’ll go on the boat so you won’t lord it over me.  I still don’t want to but if I don’t give in I’ll never hear the end of it. (Back)
     
  1. (H) No Way! If you go on the boat than I’m the bad guy and you’ll just lord it over me later.  No way!  Stay home and good riddance. I won’t let you have this power over me.  (lines 8 and 9 are just a replay of lines 6 and 7). (Back)

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What Was Actually Happening (The Process of Shutting Down)

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 Husband started out hurt and disappointed but then gets angry and accusing.
 

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 Wife becomes unloving and defensive. She closes up.
 

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 Husband senses it and gets angrier. Unable to appreciate his wife’s feelings, he   
 becomes more concerned about being right and vindicated.
 

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Wife retreats inwardly. She is unable to appreciate her husband’s feelings and gives in so he’ll stop his verbal attacks.    She also gives in so she can be self-righteous and the better person.  Deep down she knows she won’t forget about this and she’ll just take it out on him later.
 

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Husband is no dummy.  He refuses his wife’s concession so she can’t lord it over him later.  He also wants to be self-righteous and the better person. He then tells her to stay at home, not because he loves her, but so he can rightfully remain indignant and not lose power.  

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What To Do Next Time

An Overview
The Basics
The Specifics

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Overview

Most arguments occur because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication.  You each need to know that your spouse really loves you and does not want to hurt you.  God wants you to love each other and tend to each other’s needs.  I know both of you want this too. And that, if you could push a button and make your spouse happy, you’d do it in a second.  The problem is, that you guys keep pushing the wrong buttons!!!!

Note, the very way you say things can push the wrong buttons.  And when this happens, people get defensive and they no longer want to resolve the problem.

Below is a list of things and approaches that may help you communicate better.  Most of these are cosmetic gestures that only slightly alter how you can express yourself.  Nevertheless they are extremely important.  What you’re doing here is learning a whole new way to think and express yourself.  It will take some time to master these principles and techniques but it is definitely worth it.  And you should be able to see improvement almost immediately.  Later this list will be broken down into the specific steps that you can use on a daily basis. 

What To Do Next Time

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The Basics

bulletSee your spouse as someone who loves you and would never willingly hurt you.
bulletSee your spouse as someone who has been hurt and not as the adversary.
bulletTry to resolve the matter rather than be right, give in, or compromise.
bulletBe sensitive to how you phrase things (more of  “I feel” “I heard” and “it appears like” and less of  “you said”, “you told me” and “you don’t…”)
bulletLearn Your Spouses Communication style. (Don’t expect them to communicate or process just like you do).
bulletCheck with your spouse to see if you heard it right.
bulletAvoid defensive posturing. (look the person in the eye, and no crossed arms, no head shaking or back turning, etc).
bulletLower your voice, slow down and give the other person some physical space.

What To Do Next Time

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The Specifics

1. Don’t Zone Out Until It’s Over (Repeat Things Back To Each Other)

If you’re being overloaded, tell your spouse
”I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN TO LISTEN BUT I’M AT MY LIMIT.”

Then respectfully repeat back what was said so you can see if you heard it right.

Example:  (Wife) I just want to make sure I got this right. So, when we were talking this morning you heard me say I didn’t want to go on the boat at all and that I didn’t like it?

(Husband) Yes that’s what I thought I heard. And I couldn’t understand it.  (husband now stops talking as he knows his wife is at her limit and doing her best to communicate).

 (Wife) I don’t believe I said that but that’s certainly not what I meant. I do like the boat.  I just didn’t want to go today. (wife says just a few more things to let the husband know what she was concerned with and assures him that she cares for both him and the boat. Then she lets him speak and reflects back). Husband then repeats process until both of them understand for real that they both care for each other and this was just a miscommunication.

What To Do Next Time

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2. Don’t Talk At The Person

Do you want to be right or do you want the problem resolved?  Don’t recite long passages of what the other person said to demonstrate they’re wrong.  Also avoid telling your spouse  “Well You said” and “You told me” and “you don’t…”

People know when they’re being talked at and it never helps them listen.

Instead, slow down your words, keep your voice low and avoid excited gestures.  If you need to calm down, take a deep breath and step back so your spouse has some personal space.  Then slowly explain to them where you’re coming from.

What To Do Next Time

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3. Watch For Clues That The Other Party Is At Their Limit.

For example: when I see my brother put his hand to his chin, I know he’s now in some far way land and not listening.  Often your spouse will have gestures or signals they are not aware of that tell you they’re zoning out.  Learn to spot these signals.  Then engage them so they are again part of the conversation.  Start with a question such as “What do you think about this?”  “Am I being fair here?” “I’d like to hear your thoughts on this too.” 

What To Do Next Time

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3. Try Not To Interrupt Too Much

Use this time to listen and watch your spouse’s body cues. What is she really saying behind the words? And when you’re husband’s upset, is there something you see underneath that’s really eating him?  It’s that underlying thing that’s important; not necessarily what he’s talking about now.”  Respond to the real issue behind the words.

What To Do Next Time

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4. Check With Your Spouse To See If You Heard It Right. 
This is especially hard for husbands.  To a manly man, this may sound like wussy stuff but it’s really important.  The husband of course knows he heard it right.  He heard what he heard so why pussyfoot with this “I thought I heard you say x” crap?  Well, the answer is because maybe you didn’t hear it right.  And even if you did, you’re spouse could have said it wrong or been unaware of how it came out.  No. Only Jesus is perfect.  The rest of us mishear or misunderstand things all the time! 

What To Do Next Time

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5. Learn Your Spouses Communication style.

Your spouse may not communicate like you do.  For example one spouse may process quickly and immediately say what they are feeling.  But the other spouse may be a plodder.  The plodder type can’t always tell you what they are thinking on demand.  They need time to process things.   The other spouse should be mindful of this and not press for an instant response.   On the other hand, both spouses should strive for better communication and this may mean stretching each other and learning new ways to express yourself.

What To Do Next Time

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6. Be Sensitive How You Phrase Things

Again, this is not wussy stuff.  Most arguments flare up because someone’s buttons were pushed and pushed in the wrong way.   Sure some topics will always be sensitive.  And sometimes an argument is unavoidable.  However, the trick is to be able to say what you need without causing collateral damage.

What To Do Next Time

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Bad Ways To Say Things

Using “You” Statements

“You” statements convey that the other person is automatically at fault, conversation over.

Using “you” pins the blame on the other person, accuses them and makes them defensive.   Then, they either shut down or try their best to demonstrate you’re wrong and they’re right.

Examples:  “The problem is that YOU DON’T LISTEN” or

“YOU’RE WRONG…”
“YOU SAID…”
“YOU TOLD ME….”
“YOU DON’T….”
“YOU NEED TO…."
“YOU’RE ANNOYING ME”

Other Examples:

“WHY DID YOU MESSUP THE SINK?
”Why did you…”
“How come you didn’t….”


Statements That Pin Down The Other Side Without Giving Them Room To Explain

Examples “Didn’t you tell me…”
                 “ I remember you said….”
                 “Now I know I heard…”    

Any Statement That Blatantly Tells The Other Side They’re To Blame or The Object Of Scorn

Examples: 

Bad:  I HATE IT WHEN YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY.
Better:  WHEN YOU SAY SUCH THINGS I FEEL HURT AND THEN GET ANGRY.

Bad: YOU MADE ME LATE BECAUSE YOU GAVE ME THE WRONG         DIRECTIONS.|
Better: WHEN I SPOKE TO YOU, I GOT THE WRONG DIRECTIONS AND I WAS LATE.
(The actor was not mentioned but clearly obvious to both sides)

 Bad: I’M FRUSTRATED AS YOU INTERRUPT ME ALL THE TIME.
Better: When we talk and I’m constantly interrupted I start to lose it/get angry, etc.
(Again the actor is obvious but not mentioned.  Speaker uses the passive voice and avoids using the word “You”).

What To Do Next Time

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Good Ways To Say Things

A. Using “I Heard”, “I felt”, “I feel” and  “I am”.

B. Using the passive voice to be gentle when you know the other person made a mistake.

“I heard” or “I thought I heard” gives the other side wiggle room just in case there was a misunderstanding.  Remember, you want to honestly communicate, not beat the other person into submission.

“I feel” “ I am” or “I felt” lets your spouse know of your emotions without putting them on the defensive.  This means being vulnerable to them rather than declaring things at them. This also means talking about your feelings such as being angry, hurt or scared. And doing so without automatically blaming them.

When men first try to explain their feelings, they often over use the word “frustrated.” As in “Honey I just feel frustrated whenever….”  Avoid this if you can.  You’re never vulnerable when you tell someone you’re frustrated.  And usually there are vulnerable feelings lurking beneath “frustrated”, such as feeling helpless, confused or scared, etc.

Example: Instead of saying “I was really frustrated when you told me you like the boat and then said you didn’t like the boat.”

Try

“I have to admit I got angry when I first heard you say you liked the boat and then later heard you say you didn’t like the boat.  I also felt hurt as it appeared you didn’t care about something important to me.

Notice that there are “You” statements in this sentence but there’s also plenty of wiggle room so the spouse can explain themselves.  Also notice words of emotion and vulnerability such as “angry”, “felt” and “hurt”)

What To Do Next Time

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The Contract Of Commitment

 

I____________________ value my marriage and love my spouse.  Therefore, I am committed to do my very best and follow these procedures until God tells otherwise.

 

______________________
      (Husband)

  

I____________________ value my marriage and love my spouse.  Therefore, I am committed to do my very best and follow these procedures until God tells otherwise.

 

______________________
      (Wife)


 

Is Your Spouse Or Boyfriend Cheating On You?
Is The Guy Your Dating Really Married Or Cheating On You?
Is Your Spouse Cheating On You?

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Is The Guy You're Dating Really Married Or Cheating on You?

Is it A Landline or Cell Phone?
Watch out singles. If it's always a cell phone, the person could be married or living a double life. Note cell phones don't normally come up on reverse Internet phone book searches (the free ones). But they may turn up on search engines if listed on a website.

Providing only a cell phone number can be a tip off that the guy is married, living with someone or involved with multiple partners. For instance, he may have a home phone, but doesn't want anyone else to answer your calls.

How To Spot A Married Man or Cheater
The signs in Red are absolute show stoppers. You should be ready to bolt if you see any one of them.
The other signs merely indicate something could be wrong.  But in themselves, they don't mean something is wrong.

The Danger Signs

bulletGives you a false name that you can't verify, i.e. one that's extremely common/doesn't match with his age or where he claims to live (with his true name you could do a background check). (Same goes with where he works). Take out your driver’s license, and playfully ask to see his. If he recoils at the idea, He's Probably Married. Also verify his name and age match by doing an Age lookup in the city and state where he lives. If he's been in the state for a while, you should see his name and the right age plus or minus a year. Age lookups often list current and prior addresses and also the relatives of the subject too. All of which can be matched against what he's told you.
bulletNever gives you his Home Address, or landline. (some people don't  have a landline but having neither of these is lethal)
bulletGives you an address but you never can see his home. He's either hiding something or he's a lunatic. Break it off if he won't let you inside.
bullet His Physical Address is really a Concealed MailDrop or  PO Box. (Does he live in a shoe? ) Find out how to tell if it's a Real Physical Address.
bulletOnline Dating profiles show he's still playing the field even after meeting you. People Search/Dating Profiles
bulletHas numerous online dating profiles where he's lied about himself. See People Search/Dating Profiles
bulletGives you an address where he doesn't live. (If he Rents. verify his address by Reverse Lookup. If he owns, look up the true owner via  Real Property Records).
bulletTells you never to call him after 6pm or after normal work or school hours (when he,  the wife and kids are at home).
bulletYou only see him when he wants to see you. (Excuses aside, what's the pattern here? Is he juggling a family life?)
bulletNever talks about or introduces you to his family, friends, colleagues or children. (And if he has no friends, that's a danger sign too.)
bulletHas a white ring-like discoloration around the wedding ring finger. (Just got divorced or still married? Demand to see the divorce certificate. And avoid him if he says he's in the process of getting divorced. Love can wait.)
bulletDoesn't like to be seen with you in public places (or in certain public places.) (Excuses aside, what's the pattern?)
bulletNever sees you on holidays. (Time to be with the wife and kids).
bulletFacebook/Myspace Profile Has a Photo of You and Him with You Cropped Out.
bulletFacebook/Myspace has lots of recent postings on his wall by women, but no responses  (he's sending them personal messages you can't see rather than posting them on his wall).
bulletFacebook/Myspace Profile lists him as single and not in a relationship. (Could also be an oversight)
bulletBlocks You From Seeing Whether he's online. (Sometimes this is just the default privacy setting)
bulletWhen you call, you're never able to get him on the phone-he always calls you back (could be a phone or voicemail designated solely for his trysts).
bulletGives you only his cell phone, beeper or work number. (Hard To background and you won't get his family)
bulletGives you an address where he and a woman live (Better be his sister)  See Age & Relatives See also Real Property Records (His wife might be on the deed).
bulletCalls you only from his cell phone.
bulletSays he frequently goes out of town. (keeps you from calling or seeing him when he's busy with his spouse or other girl friends). Common excuses are that he's a traveling salesman, businessman, etc.
bulletCalls you at unusual hours or very set hours. (A married man must plan around his family)
bulletCalls erratically, or is not consistent. Calls you from various different locations (never seems to call from home or work).
bulletAvoids being photographed with you.
bulletAvoids discussing his past. (Fewer lies to remember).
bulletPays only in cash (so his wife won't see strange bills, or you won't see his real name or address on his Credit Card or Driver's License).
bulletHe chooses not to post a picture of himself online, or he posts a picture that may be very dark and difficult to pick him out of a crowd.
bulletAll his online chats occur either during work hours or late at night (when his wife is asleep).
bulletNever answers his phone when he's with you, but always looks at it to see just who's calling. (another girlfriend perhaps?)
bulletCalls you generic pet names off the bat, like honey or dear or sweetie (so there's no chance of getting your name mixed up with his wife or other girlfriends).
bulletYou are unable to verify his profession, or many other things he says about himself. Go To Consumer-SOS.com, choose your state and then choose People Search To background him.

More Signs Your Spouse or Lover is Cheating On You

For More see Spotting Married Men

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Is your Spouse Cheating On You?

For a Checklist Of Warning Signs

More Signs Your Spouse or Lover is Cheating On You

Google Search on Warning Signs

 
Internet Resources On Backgrounding Their Conduct or Contacts


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