You’d think a couple that has the same frickin first name wouldn’t fight about anything. I mean, obviously they’ve got everything in common! But at the recent Dave Ramsey SMART Conference, Dr. Les Parrott shared a few defining fights that he and wife Dr. Leslie Parrott have had over the years.
We’ve actually heard him speak before at their presentation of Fight Night and I thought for sure he’d have the same stories. On the contrary, much to my amusement, he spoke of a different defining fight each time.
So what’s a defining fight you ask? He says they usually happen early in your marriage and you always remember them! His were hilarious. In hindsight I’m sure. and mostly for the audience I think. So…what’s one of our defining fights?
One of our very first was this absurd argument on…how to make the bed. No. lie! Before marriage I didn’t even realize there was apparently a right and a wrong way to make a bed! What does it even matter?! Evidently, it does. My new husband wanted it a certain way and felt very disrespected that I didn’t care. I did not want to be controlled or dictated on how to lay a stupid flat sheet. We now make the bed his way. every. single. morning. I love it.
Reasons We Fight
And why the heck do we fight over the stupid bed sheets? Dr. Les gave a couple of reasons. One being that – DUH – men and women are different. Our brains function differently, we focus differently, have different perspectives, goals of conversations and even peripheral vision!
One key takeaway from his talk was about our different goals of conversation. Men use what he calls report talk while wives use rapport talk. Men simply want the major news. They don’t appreciate all our “fluff” lol! Maybe your husband has so kindly asked you to “get to the point”. Uhhhh huh. My man will occasionally get impatient and tell me to “spit it out”. Boo. Husbands want the general report. Cut the minuscule details. Women want to use conversation to connect. We want to dive into the situations and discuss the circumstances. We want to look into the motives and ideals. Men want to fix problems. Women want to dissect them.
The other, more complicated, reason husbands and wives fight is because of perception. Each person is intricately and miraculously knit together different than any other human being on the planet. We each have different perspectives. When in a fight with your spouse you’re probably feeling either perceived threat or perceived neglect. A perceived threat is when you’re feeling controlled, judged, criticized, or attacked. Perceived neglect is when you feel your spouse is being uncaring, uncommitted, selfish, or disengaged. I’ll be completely transparent and tell you I usually perceive threats and Elwin usually perceives neglect. It’s an issue (we all have them!).
Tools for Fighting
Dr. Les gave some fantastic advice for when you fight. Notice “when”, not “if”! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Two imperfect people who were raised in two different families two separate ways decide to live life together for the rest of their lives. There will be conflict. There will be different perspectives, opinions. Conflict is actually healthy for marriage according to this remarkably talented author.
The couples advice is this – avoid criticism. That’s what starts a fight. A healthier option is to use the Drs.’ formula for translating a criticism into a complaint. In situation X when you do Y I feel Z. Now I personally tell you to stick to sentences that start with “I” to avoid placing blame on your spouse and sticking strictly to your feelings and reactions to a situation.
However, I’ve used this a couple of times since being reminded of it. It at least makes me feel better. I’ve spoken my piece. It still feels a little bit like I’m pointing the finger but it gets the point across. What do you think?
Sometimes I just decide to keep my mouth shut, you know what I mean? It’s easier and I don’t really like conflict with my husband. I remember watching my parents yell at each other as a little girl. NO thank you! However, bottling it up can lead to contempt which isn’t any healthier. Husbands and wives have got to find a balance.
Which leads to my absolute favorite tool that Dr. Les spoke about during his first Fight Night event that we attended. The Drs. came up with a conflict card which bears similarities to the pain scale you’ve seen at the doctor’s office or hospital. The medical field wants you to rate the level of your pain from 1-10. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott want you to rate the level of your objection in a disagreement from one to ten. From one being “Eh, whatever” to ten stating “Over my dead body” this conflict card has worked wonders for me to evaluate how strong my stance on an argument is. Rather than everything being a fight for my opinion to win out it’s now a more balanced evaluation of what really matters. I actually made us one with a happy picture of us on it to remind me of a sappy moment. That way I see the conflict in front of me but also the happiness and love that we are used to.
I Definitely Recommend!
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott have great material and I definitely recommend diving into their resources. Check our their latest book, take their
Cosmo quizzes assessments, or watch some of their videos. Keep investing time and effort into your marriage.
Now go pick a fight with your Mr.! 😉
PSSSSST – JK! Don’t be a winch!
- 7 Books that will Make your Marriage Amazing
- A Tell-All Interview with the Husband; Revealing Mens’ Thoughts on Marriage
- Marriage Killers – Plus How to Avoid Them
- Spaghetti Married to a Waffle? Differences Between Men & Women’s Behavior That Will Affect Your Marriage
- How to Overcome Defensiveness in Marriage