How to Fight (Part 3 of 3): What and How to Say It
Have you ever been so upset that you said something really stupid and as soon as it left your mouth you wish you could take it back? Once it is out there, however, the damage is done. There is no turning back once you let those words fly. This is especially true in your marriage when emotions are heated and a fight is about to ensue. So how do you train yourself not to get to this point? What are some ways to guarantee this doesn’t happen again? Here are a few Samurai tricks of the trade:
Think with your spirit, not with your emotions. It is easy to think with your emotions when you feel attacked, defensive, or put down. Our instant reaction is to react in kind when emotions are dictating our thought process. Thinking with your spirit, however, means that instead of filtering your thoughts through your emotions, you train yourself to filter things through the spirit. Go through the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) or Paul’s exhortation to have a holy thought life (Philippians 4:8) and see if what you are about to say makes the cut with those standards and parameters. If you don’t know those passages by heart, it might be a good time to memorize them. By filtering your thoughts through the Spirit and the Word, you stand a much better chance of not sticking your foot in your mouth.
Use “I” language. One thing that goes a long way is not what you say but how you say it. Check out these two examples:
- “You always say demeaning things and I am tired of it. You need to stop being so sharp with your words!”
- “When we really get heated, I feel belittled when sharp words are used.”
- “You shouldn’t have spent that money on another new dress and shoes when money is so tight. You are being selfish.”
- “When I saw the clothing purchases on our credit card, I felt anxious and angry because we are on a tight budget. I think we need to talk through the budget again.”
Do you see the difference? One is attacking and the other is focused on how you feel, not on your spouse’s shortcomings. The reason this is so important is that you get the same point across but it doesn’t put your spouse on the defensive. It is a way to talk that helps you get into more of a green zone type of conversation. The more you can take fighting words out of the equation, the better the chances you aren’t going to fight. Using “I language” is a huge help in this area.
Set the tone. Let me restate something; it is not what you say but how you say it. In this case, I am talking about the tone of your voice. You can say, “I’m sorry” or even “I love you” and it do more harm than good because of the way you say it. This is why it’s important to ensure you aren’t talking with your emotions; you will get yourself in trouble. When you say the right things, make sure your heart backs it up because that comes out in your tone. (This is one of the reasons I suggest cooling off before having a conversation with your spouse: see “How to Fight: The Green Zone”). Focus on how it comes out, not just the words you are saying. Especially husbands… your wife has a PhD in hearing what you are really saying even though your words are saying something else. Mean what you say and let your tone back it up.
Words and the way you say things are critically important in stopping fights before they start. Learn these Samurai tactics and watch the amount of fights in your home drop to an all time low!