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How to have a conflict #356297
07/16/14 12:08 AM
07/16/14 12:08 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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I am currently reading The Dance of Connection by Harriet Lerner and like all of the books that I read the advice about how to discuss difficult subjects just does not fit.

So do you have any advice for two conflict avoiders about how to have a conflict?

1. Don't yell: We don't. Ever
2. Don't attack the person's character: we don't.
3. Don't say "You always, you never..." We don't.

Most of the time, neither of us wants to say anything that the other one considers hurtful. The minute one of us gets our feelings hurt about something ( and it can just be a look) the other one is apologizing. We are constantly apologizing to one another.

Neither one of us wants to say what we really want to do. Going out to lunch, neither of us wants to choose because that means we might not be doing what the other one really wants to do and then it is also our fault if it is bad.

We have talks about topics all the time and sometimes we have different perspectives but we never talk about what to do about it... IE: He is exhausted and doesn't want to do anything fun. Fun is working around the house. I'm (or was) at the hosue 24/7. I want to go out and have fun WITH HIM. He wants to bond by doing chores side by side. I want to bond having great adventures... But the default position is at home because he has no energy. I totally get his point of view. He totally gets mine. We don't argue. We've never yelled about this. We don't think each other is stupid for feeling this way. He knows I'm not happy and so will take me out occasionally but his heart isn't in it. He is trying not to fall asleep in the movie or is too worried about the legal case to really have a FUN conversation. I'm bored stiff doing a chore with him. Sometime we have good talks doing that. It is ok. Just like the fun dates are ok for him sometimes.

But how does this conflict get resolved. I don't do any of the bad things that the articles or books talk about. Neither does he. We both completely understand each other's point of view. But the problem is not resolved. We just have the same conversations over and over again....very carefully so as not to hurt the other person's feelings.

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #356387
07/16/14 05:32 PM
07/16/14 05:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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Ok, are we really just a strange couple... I have googled articles and can't really find any except the ones I gave in other topics and that just describes the situation and doesn't really give ways to fix it. All of the articles are about explosive couples. OR.. they are about avoidant couples but when they describe the avoidant couples they talk about how the person avoids until they explode or how angry their relationships are. Our relationship is not angry. We like each other. I respect him. He respects me. Anyone have any thoughts or are we just deviant?

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #356454
07/16/14 09:05 PM
07/16/14 09:05 PM
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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Here is an article that partially talks about it. I will bold the part that really speaks to me:

About two weeks ago late on a Monday afternoon, I sat in my office listening to a couple describe twenty years of conflict avoidance and intimacy avoidance. Their communication was packed with vague unspecified references and their reported behavior was overflowing with examples of passivity.

I thought, “This is going to be a challenging session. Do I have the energy for it? Am I up for the task? Will I be able to have an impact, to make a difference?”

Some couples work very hard to avoid any intensity. They seek stability, security, and harmony. I know from experience that they do not change from insight. I’m going to be looking for how I can be sure that what goes on in the session will be significantly different from what would happen if I wasn’t there. I want a higher intensity level than they would be able to handle, tolerate or allow on their own. Even though I know it is their experience in the room with me that will make the difference, I still wonder, “Will they allow me to direct, confront and support them? Will they tenaciously hold on to old patterns that feel safe? Will I get repeatedly ensnared in their communication process?”

These partners avoid direct communication on any potentially charged topic. They rarely initiate or express desires. They don’t know how to turn up the heat and will communicate in a way that obscures any possibility of turning up the heat. They are acutely tuned in to any indications of anxiety in each other and will rapidly dance away from being direct in order to diminish their anxiety. Anxiety is never viewed as a signal for growth waiting to happen. Instead of moving towards the discomfort, they quickly move away.

It comes from here:
http://www.couplesinstitute.com/challenging-communication-with-your-conflict-avoidant-couples/

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #356471
07/16/14 10:55 PM
07/16/14 10:55 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 6,204
Monterey, CA
Fiddler Offline
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Marta, I hope you don't mind my quoting from Your post in PC since it has to do with what you are talking about here. You wrote:
Originally Posted By: Marta
Well, I've wondered if I am just completely unrealistic. If what I want doesn't exist... ( Have you read my how to have conflict thread.) I would like something exciting and fun. I don't see how the differences can be fixed and I really do not like the status quo:
and
Originally Posted By: Marta
I never, ever want him to be unhappy with me. It means I've failed. I don't know how to be ok with that nor does he know how to be comfortable with my being upset..
It seems that what you want is to have the places where you are unhappy with the status quo (spending more time on fun things, living in a less maintenance-heavy place) resolved to your satisfaction, without him being upset or unhappy with the outcome.

If the most important criterion for any change is that he be 100% happy with it, then it's hard to see how your dissatisfaction with the current situation can be resolved. These two things are incompatible, unless there is complete agreement between the two of you. Any change is going to take at least one of you (and probably both) way out of your comfort zone, in some area at least.

On the other hand, if the unmet needs you have (such as the need for "fun things") could be characterized more fundamentally, there might be a variety of solutions that would meet both of your needs. For example, do the "fun things" you have in mind necessarily have to have him along?


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Fiddler] #356476
07/17/14 12:03 AM
07/17/14 12:03 AM
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Fiddler

If the most important criterion for any change is that he be 100% happy with it, then it's hard to see how your dissatisfaction with the current situation can be resolved. These two things are incompatible, unless there is complete agreement between the two of you. Any change is going to take at least one of you (and probably both) way out of your comfort zone, in some area at least.


Yeah, I know and that is my point in a way as in how much is too much. We have gone with talking over NO differences and my never speaking my mind to actually speaking what I think and feel but at what point is he going to go good grief, is it ever enough..

He has made several changes. He is always telling me thank you now for things that I do from folding underwear to getting his trip organized to cooking dinner. HUGE change. He has also stopped advising me how to do things.. He even stopped himself a couple of weeks ago. We were cleaning out the big freezer to fit more produce in there and he started to say... if you would lie them flat when you put them in there they would stack better..but he stopped with if you would and said...nevermind it isn't important. Then he thanked me for something else I had done.

I recognize that this is a big deal for him and I do appreciate that. He has initiated some dates and at least acknowledged that we needed to do it even if it didn't fit. I'm not the one pushing for them as much anymore. But that said, his schedule, sickness, my trip have made this summer pretty sparse.

I complained and complained about being bored whenever he would ask me how I was doing. ( I would also say I missed him.) Now I have a part time job that I got myself. I do love that job.

I have started every single sex conversation we have ever had with the first one being 2 years ago. ( Nope, we had never ever talked about sex.) Most of the conversations have been dead ends as in he says everything is fine or he is sorry I feel this way or that way about it. Then a few days later he will really initiate more. I was finally honest not to long ago and told him about faking o's. He was surprised but supportive and once again tried hard for a little while but we are back to ho hum again. I'm sure part of it is the stress from his job. But is depressing when you walk naked around the bathroom and he doesn't even see you and falls asleep immediately when his head hits the pillow....

I had 3 different conversations with him last year about having a weekend away where we talk about things and set priorities and such. We finally did it and had the best weekend ever. He LOVED it and said we should do it again this year... I've looked at the caledar...there is no room this fall...maybe in the spring. But our 25th is next summer so we should be taking a big trip for it. So is it selfish to ask for both????

How much do I bring up that I would rather him not do chores but spend time with me. At what point does it become a nagging thing?

Does it ever get to be easy?????? I guess I just want peacefulness and yes for him not to be upset...


Originally Posted By: Fiddler

On the other hand, if the unmet needs you have (such as the need for "fun things") could be characterized more fundamentally, there might be a variety of solutions that would meet both of your needs. For example, do the "fun things" you have in mind necessarily have to have him along?


Well, sort of. As I told my therapist my husband was still his workaholic self and I didn't even care. I was surprised when he asked me out because I wasn't wishing for it because the job was keeping me so happy. I had something meaningful to do.. It made me realize that my jobs and then homeschooling have kept me happy instead of my husband.. I guess that makes me sad. I would like to have fun with him instead.

Plus, honestly, one HUGE area where I want to have fun is in the bedroom. I can't really do that with anyone else. We were both virgins and didn't really know much I guess.. We have been pretty boringly predictable. I've always kind of wanted more, but suddenly my hormones have gone nuts and the kids are not sapping all my energy and I really want to experiment and do all kinds of things... How do you tell your husband that without making him feel like a failure or me sounding like what he does in that area isn't enough.... But I just want it to be a fun time of exploration, being silly,etc not a race to get to the finish line. But he is so tired and stressed and this is so low on his agenda that I don't know how to address this without making the frequency less than it already is....

Does that make sense???

Part of this is that one of the big reasons I fell in love with my husband was for his sense of humor. He made me laugh. He was a practical jokester. He helped me not take myself so seriously for the first 15 years of our marriage. Yes, he was responsible but he was also really fun.

That has completely died in him. It is gone. No more jokes. No more teasing. ( He was so good at teasing me good naturedly out of bad moods.) He can't wait for his forties to be over next year. He's said so many times that this decade has sucked.

I've been supportive. I'm just tired of being supportive and want to escape the gloom and doom.

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #356479
07/17/14 12:23 AM
07/17/14 12:23 AM
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,381
TX
CajunRose Offline
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CajunRose  Offline
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Originally Posted By: Marta
It made me realize that my jobs and then homeschooling have kept me happy instead of my husband.. I guess that makes me sad. I would like to have fun with him instead.

Plus, honestly, one HUGE area where I want to have fun is in the bedroom. I can't really do that with anyone else. We were both virgins and didn't really know much I guess.. We have been pretty boringly predictable. I've always kind of wanted more, but suddenly my hormones have gone nuts and the kids are not sapping all my energy and I really want to experiment and do all kinds of things... How do you tell your husband that without making him feel like a failure or me sounding like what he does in that area isn't enough.... But I just want it to be a fun time of exploration, being silly,etc not a race to get to the finish line. But he is so tired and stressed and this is so low on his agenda that I don't know how to address this without making the frequency less than it already is....

Does that make sense???

Part of this is that one of the big reasons I fell in love with my husband was for his sense of humor. He made me laugh. He was a practical jokester. He helped me not take myself so seriously for the first 15 years of our marriage. Yes, he was responsible but he was also really fun.

That has completely died in him. It is gone. No more jokes. No more teasing.

I think you need to tell him this, or hand him this to read. Possibly at the same time that you tell him what your son said.

Your husband has his priorities messed up. You need to be up near the top, and right now you seem to be number 4 (after church, kids, and work). I would be frustrated too.

It is NOT selfish for you to ask for two weekends in a 6-9 month span with your husband. It is unfathomable to me that you have ZERO weekends left for the rest of the year, that every weekend is planned out for at least one of you. That's a good part of your problem, I would imagine, and in your shoes I'd probably start scheduling one weekend a month with zero obligations.


Current spouse: Night. D10, D9, S7

About me

You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

http://www.divorcedmomfinances.com
Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #356481
07/17/14 12:25 AM
07/17/14 12:25 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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And yet...

1. My husband loves me very much. I have absolutely no doubt of that.

2. We speak to each other with respect. For the most part, we always do and on the rare occasions we do not we apologize.

3. We work fabulously well together on projects. We are great teammates. I am a great secretary for him.

4. Our positive interactions outweigh our negative ones probably 100 to 1. Our negative interactions are very few and far between and our immediately made up.

5. My husband is a man of integrity. He has had many occasions to cheat on taxes, and other various things and he always does the hard thing even though it costs him sometimes. ( We once got a new accountant who brought a mistake our old accountant had made a couple of years before where we underpaid a HUGE amount. We filed an amended return and paid the amount and the interest. He makes tough choices like this a lot. He is a man of his word. I can trust him implicitly.

6. My husband is so good with finances...not because he makes a lot of money but because he is a good manager, is a careful researcher, etc. However, regardless of what my middle son thinks he isn't stingy. He is VERY generous with charities. He has NEVER EVER gotten on to me about a purchase. In fact, I love going shopping with him. I might go shopping for an outfit and my husband will find me two more and tell me that I need them as well. AT Christmas, I get the most presents under the tree. It is a joke with the kids. My pile is twice as big as theirs. ( That said, I really don't want material things. I would trade the entire pile for a weekend away. But to him this pile of presents says he loves me.)

7. He finishes what he starts in a reasonable amount of time. House repairs get done in a timely fashion. I never have to give him a honey do list.

8. He is just a nice guy.. and very humble. He gives credit to everyone else that he works with for the outcomes and if something happens he takes all the blame. His co-workers that are under him adore him and would rather work with him than anyone else because he never yells at them, treats them with respect. People come up to me all the time everywhere I go telling me how wonderful he is. He is a nice guy. He is that nice at home.

I'm really lucky..

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: CajunRose] #356482
07/17/14 12:34 AM
07/17/14 12:34 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: CajunRose
It is NOT selfish for you to ask for two weekends in a 6-9 month span with your husband. It is unfathomable to me that you have ZERO weekends left for the rest of the year, that every weekend is planned out for at least one of you. That's a good part of your problem, I would imagine, and in your shoes I'd probably start scheduling one weekend a month with zero obligations.

It is partially my fault. My part time job has me needed on the weekends... We will be gone for one weekend for Parent's weekend in September. He will be on call one weekend. ( So I can do my job that weekend.) So we have two weekends with nothing scheduled.

We don't have things scheduled every weekend. We have several weekends free each month. However, my new job requires me to be there part of each weekend.

But I'm already missing at least one weekend and for two months two weekends out of the month. I don't need to miss anymore for my job.

Last edited by Fiddler; 07/17/14 04:54 PM. Reason: Poster's edit request
Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #356649
07/18/14 12:16 AM
07/18/14 12:16 AM
Joined: Jul 2014
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marriageisfun Offline
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Caring Enough to Embrace Conflict

One of the greatest predictors of divorce is the habitual avoidance of conflict.

What's sad is the reason that we avoid conflict is because we believe it (conflict) causes divorce.

It's like the cartoon where the couple explains to the marriage counselor, "We never talk anymore. We figured out that's when we do all our fighting." In the beginning, we avoid conflict because we are in love and we believe that "staying in love" is about agreeing, about NOT fighting.

We're afraid that if we disagree - or fight - we'll run our marriage off into the ditch.

Later, we avoid conflict because when we try to deal with our differences things get so out of hand and our fights are so destructive and upsetting that we simply shut down. After a few bad blow-ups we become determined to avoid conflict at any cost. Successful couples are those who know how to discuss their differences in ways that actually strengthen their relationship and improve intimacy.

Successful couples know how to contain their disagreements – how to keep them from spilling over and contaminating the rest of their relationship.

While it's true that we don't get married to handle conflict, if a couple doesn't know how – or learn how – to fight or disagree successfully, they won't be able to do all the other things they got married to do.

Put another way, it's hard to take her out to the ball game if you're not speaking. Couples are often so determined to avoid disagreements that they shut down – quit speaking.

Couples need to know what the research has found: that every happy, successful couple has approximately ten areas of "incompatibility" or disagreement that they will never resolve.

Instead, the successful couples learn how to manage the disagreements and live life "around" them – to love in spite of their areas of difference, and to at least develop understanding and empathy for their partner's positions.
The divorce courts have it all wrong.

"Irreconcilable differences" – like a bad knee or a chronic back – are not a reason to divorce. Instead, they are part of every good marriage. Successful couples learn to dance in spite of their differences. They gain comfort in knowing they know their partner, know which areas they disagree on and must learn to manage.

They also understand that if they switch partners they'll just get ten new areas of disagreement, and sadly, the most destructive will be about the children from their earlier relationships.

In addition to skills for handling disagreements, we also have to learn to welcome and embrace change. When we marry we promise to stay together till death us do part – but, we don't promise to stay the same! That would be deadly dull. We need skills and confidence to welcome, integrate, and negotiate change along the way.

The good news is that the skills or behaviors – for handling disagreement and conflict,for integrating change, and for expressing love, intimacy, sex, support, and appreciation – can all be learned.

Couples can unlearn the behaviors that predict divorce –that destroy love – and replace them with behaviors that keep love alive.

From Smart Marriages… The Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: marriageisfun] #356654
07/18/14 12:49 AM
07/18/14 12:49 AM
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Marta Offline OP
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But see..the blow up never happens. Ever. The worst thing that happens is I cannot stop crying and so he holds me and listens. I don't think we've ever had a bad blow up. For one thing a raised voice is never allowed.

And we do talk...a lot. We just got through talking for 30 minutes. We just keep it safe, sort of. He definitely talks about his struggles. As I mentioned in my other thread I don't quite know how to respond.. I chatter about my new job or what is going on with the kids. It isn't silent..

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: CajunRose] #356691
07/18/14 12:23 PM
07/18/14 12:23 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: CajunRose
I think you need to tell him this, or hand him this to read. Possibly at the same time that you tell him what your son said.



I actually have told him pretty much everything I put in that post, not all at once but in various coversations: that I just want lovemaking to be fun, that I miss his sense of humor, etc.

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #356692
07/18/14 12:25 PM
07/18/14 12:25 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
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Marta Offline OP
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Marta  Offline OP
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I like this article and it describes us pretty much except my family was like Paul's and my husband's was like Maggie's:

Paul and Maggie never argued—out loud, that is. Paul grew up in a family that felt more like a war zone than a family. Mom and Dad fought like cats and dogs, arguments were fast and furious, and nothing ever got resolved. Maggie grew up in a family where nobody ever argued about anything. Nothing worth discussing was ever discussed so disputes ended with elephants in the living room. By the way, notice the animal kingdom verbiage—cats, dogs, elephants. Consequently, Paul and Maggie became well-versed in the fine art of conflict avoidance. Paul avoided it because he’d never seen it work. Maggie avoided it because she’d never seen it. Their fights were akin to two submarines at war–it looked calm on the surface but there was a battle underneath. So, whenever issues came up needing resolution—big things or small things—Paul and Martha would “nice” each other to death. They had strongly held opinions that went unexpressed. They carefully steered away from emotionally laden topics. Something would happen to hurt one of their feelings—a common occurrence in all marriages—and they would “let it go”, figuring it’s not that big a deal. Some couples split because the conflict is so volatile. Paul and Maggie’s marriage was endangered by something just as lethal, dodging conflict.
Paul and Maggie made it because they instituted some practices that very much ran against their grain. They made some “deals” with each other. They agreed to give voice to things that would normally be censored. They agreed to “keep short accounts”. That is, they would not let things simmer. They’d get them discussed and resolved as soon as possible. They set a time each week where they’d ask each other a simple question: “Is there anything we need to discuss?” And they agreed to answer the question honestly. It seems simple but by doing these simple things, they killed the elephants before they established residence.

Came from here:
http://peopleproblemsblog.com/tag/conflict-avoidance/

Re: How to have a conflict [Re: Marta] #357604
07/25/14 01:05 PM
07/25/14 01:05 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
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catperson Offline
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IMO, you should stop worrying about how to make HIM stop being an avoider, and instead focus on why YOU are one. We've discussed this many times, and I still think it goes back to your belief that you aren't allowed to not be perfect. Are you addressing that in therapy?

If you could get past that roadblock in YOU, you could then move forward and start addressing the real issues. Even if he never stops being an avoider, at least you would be able to start moving your marriage to a healthier place.


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