Andy spent the sunny afternoon of Father’s day clearing out the drains on our long driveway. As I worked alongside him It reminded me so clearly of the illustration I heard a few years ago in the Alpha Marriage course. They said that, in marriage, if we don’t deal with issues that annoy us, or we shove things under the carpet, what happens is these things build up and then get blown up out of proportion later.
Our drain is a lot like that: If Andy doesn’t clear out the accumulated leaves on a regular basis, when the heavy rains come (like this week!) the leaves block block the drains and cause a quagmire of mud all over our driveway and we have a major problem to deal with.
There are a few analogies we can draw from this:
Firstly, it’s far better to deal with issues when they are small. It still hurts but much better than allowing these issues to grow and intensify later.
Also, Andy clears the drains out on a nice calm day – and not when it’s raining.
Why is that? Cos it’s so much less of a chore on a nice day.
The same with resolving issues. Timing is everything. What ever you do, do not try to confront issues when you’re still angry, or upset. Do it when you’re feeling calm and have a ‘sunny’ disposition. The outcome is likely to be a lot more constructive.
So for example, the wrong time to confront your spouse about budget issues is not when you’ve just tried to reconcile your bank statement and you’re feeling stressed.
Much better to wait until those feelings of frustration have calmed a little.
And here’s a tip that has come out of Dr John Gottman’s marriage research:
the way you start a conflict usually determines how it will end. So start gently, and with a mindset that you want a good outcome. Don’t start when you’re angry, with the intention to win, or find fault. It won’t achieve anything positive.
In our house of 2 adults and 2 teenagers we have a fair bit of conflict. But we try to deal with things when they are little, rather than storing them up to intensify into a full-on argument.
Maybe try the same approach and hopefully you’ll avoid a build up of ‘verbal’ mud and debris.
Jump in Puddles
Congratulations to Andy and Nikki Bray! Recipients of the NZCN Unsung Hero Award 2013
…for all the work they do towards helping New Zealanders build better marriages and families.
Check out FamilyLife