Today our guest is Sloane Fife who earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Utah and has worked with families as a Mental Health Therapist. She has been married for ten years and has two little girls. Sloane loves to have dance parties in the kitchen with her husband and kids, and “yoga-ing” her stress away.
Dealing with these “hot topic conversations” are as much about prevention through adjusting mindset as they are about the discussion itself (general adjusted mindset reduces tension around the hot topics and frequency with which they arise). The content is also able to be used as a “start with yourself” take home message. When one partner makes an attempt to change for the better it usually motivates the other to do the same.
5 Strategies For Dealing With Hot Topic Conversations:
1)Accept your partner as a package deal – strengths and foibles: Daniel Wile, in his book, After the Honeymoon, said “When choosing a long-term partner, you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next 10, 20, or 50 years.” There is no such thing as 100% compatibility in marriage.
2)Assess and validate both of your major needs in the relationship: What are our hot topics? Are we fighting about surface problems and missing the underlying major needs each of us have that are fueling the conflict? Is my partner aware of my major needs in our relationship? Am I aware of my partner’s major needs in our relationship? What are we doing to meet each other’s needs? What can we do better (helping to resolve conflict before it starts)?
3)Recognize your partner’s positive efforts in all areas of your relationship: Thinking about all of the big and little efforts your partner is making helps you to have a generally softer and more appreciative attitude toward your partner. This impacts the way you treat your partner, and consequently the way he/she will treat you. Express gratitude throughout the day, especially when your partner has made effort in an area of conflict.
4)Pick a time when you will have enough composure to approach your partner like a friend (because your partner should definitely be your friend): Researcher and Therapist John Gottman said “One of the biggest things you can predict is that discussions end on the same note they begin.” You use cooling off and time out periods with your children when their emotions are escalating or out of control, use the same formula in your marriage.
5)Say I’m sorry: Archbishop, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said “I’m sorry are the two most difficult words in any language.” Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t about you’re right and I’m wrong. Saying sorry is an important part of validating each other’s needs that have come into conflict – little daily skirmishes and big hot topic conflicts (#2). If you’re having a bad day, warn your partner and apologize if you’ve not been using a pleasant tone or attitude. “When one partner makes an attempt to change for the better it usually motivates the other to do the same.”
Sloane’s Recommended Book List:
ACT with Love: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, by Russ Harris
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman
After the Honeymoon, by Daniel Wile
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman – very helpful for identifying your needs in the relationship and sparking conversation about how to meet both partners needs
The last suggestion would be that if you are religious or have a particular dogma find a book on marital relations written by a member of your faith or belief system because they will reference principles that are directly relevant to your marriage and life outlook.
Mom Squad Challenge:
Look for every small thing and big thing your partner is doing right. Recognize it in your head and say it out loud to them.
Also, as promised in the episode, here is a pic of my awesome son’s wallpapered room:
Way to bring on the Christmas cheer son!