What I Learned About Leadership from a Fight with My Wife

Gail and I have been married for thirty-three years. She is my lover, my best friend, and my coach. But a few days ago we had a fight. It was a doozy.

A Husband and Wife Reconciling After a Fight - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mediaphotos, Image #11553872

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mediaphotos

It’s not important what it was about. It was one of those issues we have stumbled over previously. But I will admit that it was my fault. I ambushed her and let it escalate beyond what the circumstances warranted.

Thankfully, it ended well. Primarily, because Gail was patient, refusing to react to my rant. This was enough to end what Emerson Eggerichs calls, “the crazy cycle.” (If you haven’t read his book, Love and Respect, you must do so. It’s the most practical book on marriage I’ve read.)

Weary—and feeling a little foolish—we asked one another’s forgiveness and restored the relationship.

As I was reflecting on that experience today, I thought to myself, How can we avoid slipping into this same conflict in the future. I wrote down five lessons I want to remember for the future.

  1. Clarify our expectations up front. Most conflicts are born out of a misalignment of expectations. In this particular argument, I had a set of unexpressed expectations that Gail failed to meet. If we had discussed them before the day began, we would have likely avoided the problem altogether. But, she didn’t know, because I hadn’t bothered to articulate them.
  2. Assume the best about each other. This is especially difficult in the heat of the moment. It is easy to impute motives. But, realistically, your spouse does not get up in the morning intending to make your life miserable. You have to give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he or she is well-intentioned.
  3. Affirm the priority of the relationship. The most important asset you have as a couple is the health of your relationship. You don’t want to win the battle but lose the war. Near the end of our argument, I finally came to my senses. I said, “Honestly, I don’t know who is right or who is wrong. What I know for sure is that I love you and that trumps everything.” She quickly agreed.
  4. De-personalize the problem. When you square off against one another and make it personal, it gets ugly. If you are not careful, you end up cornering your spouse and leaving them no other option than to react or retaliate. Instead, you have to move to their side of the table, and work on the problem together.
  5. Listen more than you talk. When you get angry, it is easy to rant—to give expression to your emotion. This is almost never a good idea. Instead, if you want to be understood, you must seek to understand. (Thank you, Dr. Covey.) This means trying to see the other person’s point-of-view. Ask a question, and then ask a follow-up question.

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others. And if you can’t learn to manage conflict with those closest to you, how can you manage it with those who have less of a stake in the outcome?

Question: What have you learned from conflict in your own marriage? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    This is an absolute goldmine….a wealth of incredible advice. No matter how long you have been married, disagreements are going to occur and this is advice that is pertinent to any situation. Thank you so much. I’m definitely sharing this with my husband and the readers over at my site.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Leah!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      I agree leah, I think that listen before you talk is a great take away note.

      Jim

  • Carla Bobka

    Marriage lesson: your spouse will never, EVER be able to read your mind. When they haven’t, it is your fault.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great lesson! Couples get into more trouble over this!

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      Wouldn’t it be so much easier if others would read our minds though? :)

      • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

        Sundi,

        That would make it to easy and what would we do for fun then?

        Jim

      • http://www.facebook.com/MelissaMashburnMelsWorld Melissa Scarbrough Mashburn

        Easier and probably scarier too…

  • Sherri

    What great advice. I especially love #2: assuming the best about each other.  It’s so easy to assign ulterior motives to someone else – especially in the middle of a conflict – and that’s so unfair. I also think that assuming the best about someone can actually help bring out the best in them, whether you’re fighting or not. I hope that when people think about me and the kind of leader I am they feel good about themselves because I’ve helped them to be the best they can be. Sometimes what we all need is someone who believes in us a little more than we believe in ourselves. How motivating and freeing that is! Thank you for sharing.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Sherri,

      I think number two has to do with trust. IF you trust one another then you should assume the best. It is the foundation of the relationship.

      JIm

  • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

    Thanks for the “Love and Respect” reminder.  I’ve heard of it before and thought the concept was great… Will get that book.

    Good reminders… I think they are applicable to leadership… but I needed the reminder for my marriage more than I need this for leadership.  Either way, great post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I had my mentoring group read Love and Respect last year. It was huge for them. It is the first book I recommend on marriage.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Love And Respect and His Needs, Her Needs are the two I use for marriage counseling.

  • Charissa Steyn

    Well said. We just had a doozy of a fight as well. I love how everytime we come out stronger and with more experience and lessons learned….but you are right- how can we handle conflict with others, if we can’t do it within our own marriage. Thanks for the tips! Every one of them is so very true!

  • Tika

    Wonderful post!  Over the last 7 years of marriage, I have learned to stop assuming the worse out of my spouse and realize that he is my best friend and wants the best for me.  Instead of assuming the worse, as your eloquently stated, I have learned to take a breather and realize he is not the enemy but someone with a different point of view.  Although irritating :-) I’ve learned to listen more and talk less!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Just that expectation—that he wants the best for you—is huge. I think sometimes we get what we expect. If that’s true, then we would do well to change our expectations!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        So true!  I’ve learned to “pre-expect” what my wife would like, and then I strive to help her reach that.  Sometimes it’s easy.  Sometimes not so much…

  • Perryh

    It’s encouraging to know I am not the only one that still falls into this struggle after 30 years of marriage. My great learning (and it has just been in the past 10 days and I am writing about it now on my blog) is to learn to live with each other in an understanding way. It seems like the closer we are with someone the less understanding we apply. I liken it to you comment about increased expectations. I don’t have to understand to be understanding with others. Being understanding with her reduces expectations and increases grae. This is huge for me. Thank you Michael for sharing.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      I believe that this falls into the expectations category. You are right, you have to be understanding.

      Jim

  • K. Pashuk (@Synectics)

    Michael,

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Like you, I’ve been married 33 years and like you, find myself being able to understand the cause of our fights and what I could have done to prevent them (Thankfully like you, they don’t happen very often) but always after the fact

    I’m always perplexed as to why I can know what might cause a problem, and yet toss it all aside in an emotional moment. I have no doubt about the theology of sin nature.

    Perhaps Thomas Jefferson was right when he said “When angry count to 10. When very angry, count to 100.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like Jefferson’s advice. Anger is not usually productive.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Michael,

      That is a great quote!

      jim

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    I have learned that [for me] it’s more important to be in unity, then to be “right”. Pending the issue isn’t a sin issue, of course [and it usually isn’t].

    Pride can destroy relationships. So can expectations.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I remember hearing Dr. Phil tell a husband who insisted he was right in an argument with his wife, “You either be right or you can be happy.”

      • http://www.philippknoll.com Philipp Knoll

        This is an amazing quote! I can see that situation those people might have had in the counseling room right before me. This advice must have come as a surprise but it sure led to the right decision!

        Michael, I loved this post. It is a perfect combo of personal / private experience and leadership advice. Truly you at your best!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Philipp!

          • http://www.philippknoll.com Philipp Knoll

            More than welcome! Always a pleasure…

        • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

          Yes it is a great quote!

          jim

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Love that quote!  I’ve noticed that in my marriage, the two aren’t very often found together.  When I make sure she knows I’m right, neither of us are happy.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      I agree, most of just argue to be right, we want to win and we forget it is not a contest. We have to compromise. Marriage is not about winning and loosing, it is about working together.

      Jim

  • Kay Camenisch

    Excellent points. If we learn to follow them daily, it will avoid most conflicts in the relationship. When tensions do arise and I’m miffed because of the way I’ve been treated by my husband, all it takes is a quick review of 1 Corinthians 13 for me to see where I am also guilty of not showing love.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WMMSVF4NHYCIIFT6YDJRN7HKBQ Gary

    What I usually learn from conflicts in my marriage is that I am self-centered and inwardly egotistical and that my wife is very caring and selfless.  After disagreements/arguments/conflicts of any kind I try to re-assess what happened so we don’t make the same mistake.  In that prayerful analysis God has a way through this blog, radio spots, daily Bible reading of turning the tables to me and my selfish heart.  Once He has my attention it is easier to resolve the conflict, the conflict within my own heart of placing me above God, my wife, and others.  I am more resolved to stop before I speak and pray, listen to the Spirit and my wife, and most of all put my self aside.  Sacrafice like Christ did.

    • Drusilla Mott

      Gary, Thanks for your comments.  I recently had the same ‘defining moment'; and felt God showing me clearly that I needed to sacrifice my own selfish agendas and put others before what I wanted, regardless of how much they had hurt me.  I posted a blog about it a couple weeks ago called “What We Give to God.”

      Michael, once again, your post has hit home with me.  I see God using you to help all of us just when we need that little nudge to change our perspective.  Thank you.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Great advice. I’d add the following: Slow down to speed things up. Don’t worry if you can’t immediately resolve the issue that has raised the conflict – it’s impossible to to be aligned on everything. First, try the five principles, and then decide on a few neutral tiny steps – I mean tiny – towards progress. Often, seeing progress right away helps the two parties start to align.   

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ GailHyatt

    I keep laughing when I think back to when we were in the heat of the argument and you looked at me, and almost started laughing. You said, “Oh, my gosh, we’re having a fight.”

    I, almost laughing, said, “Yep. I think that’s what we’re doing. We’re fighting.”

    That almost ended it—just breaking the moment—but no, we had to keep going for a while longer. It had been so long since we had had an honest-to-goodness fight and we weren’t quite ready to let it go.

    But … all’s well that ends well.

    Thank YOU for being patient with me. 

    I love you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Maybe that’s why you handled this better than I—you had read Gottman’s book! I need to catch up.

    • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

      I heartily recommend anything by Les and Leslie Parrott. Anything.

    • http://twitter.com/christywong Christy Wong

      I’m a newlywed (been married almost 3 weeks now) & we read Gottman’s book in our premarital counseling. Such good advice! We haven’t had a huge fight yet since getting married, but hopefully we’ll be able to keep those things in mind. I know I’ve already been more aware of how I’m asking my husband to do things (like put away the dishes or clean up his clothes) so they don’t come across as demanding and critical. I can tell the response is better!

    • http://www.facebook.com/MelissaMashburnMelsWorld Melissa Scarbrough Mashburn

      Gail, thank you for your willingness to share your heart/family so transparently…you continue to bless so many of us!

  • Mgreen

    Great suggestions. I really resonate with clarifying expectations. That holds true at home or at church; with professionals and volunteers; with those you love.

    Most important marriage conflict lesson I have learned: my wife is always right. Seriously, and very often she is, the central thing I have discovered is the necessity of communication. In other words, no mind reading allowed. Many times my wife will look at me with those loving ideas and help me realize that I have thought about more than I have communicated. Yep, just because I thought it doesn’t mean I said it.

    Thanks for the challenge sir.

  • Mgreen

    Great suggestions. I really resonate with clarifying expectations. That
    holds true at home or at church; with professionals and volunteers; with
    those you love.

    Most important marriage conflict lesson I have
    learned: my wife is always right. Seriously, and very often she is, the
    central thing I have discovered is the necessity of communication. In
    other words, no mind reading allowed. Many times my wife will look at me
    with those loving eyes and help me realize that I have thought about
    more than I have communicated. Yep, just because I thought it doesn’t
    mean I said it.

    Thanks for the challenge sir. Reposting to correct typo…wow there may be another marriage lesson :)

  • http://twitter.com/toddanderica Erica McNeal

    I love your point about clarifying your expectations up front. For my husband and I, most of our miscommunication comes from unmet expectations that we didn’t realize we had until they were unmet. For us, putting a name to these expectations, adjusting them if need be and talking through how to do things better in the future have been our tools for keeping our fights to a minimum! =)

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    After 28 years of marriage, I can read my wife’s mind. I consult my crystal ball every morning, and it lets me know her needs and wants. From there it’s pretty easy to make her happy. Every once in a while, my crystal ball gets a little foggy and it’s hard to discern (usually around birthdays or anniversaries) but overall it works well.

    The model I have is pretty easy to operate. When I consult it in the morning, it usually suggests that I take a cup of coffee to my wife, made just the way she likes it. It prompts me with.. two sugars… two cremes… As my wife is waking up, she receives her coffee in bed. This helps her face the day. Then in the blackness of the screen, the unit has a countdown timer, usually set for five minutes. I let her wake up, get dressed, and come downstairs.

    Then the screen really gets to work. It prompts me with a compliment that I say with sincerity to my wife, and then it follows up with interesting questions that I ask. THEN in BIG letters… it prompts me to LISTEN to her answers. Then the crystal ball always reminds me… the better you listen, the better your day will be. I repeat and speak her answers into the crystal ball. After that it slowly goes black.

    For those of you who are interested, I have the Evernote model crystal ball, which works almost anywhere and can be purchased for free. Just look under the magic Apple…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Cute. Everyone would profit from one of those!

    • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

      Sign me up for one in every room of the house. You know I’ll forget to bring it with me at the wrong time.

    • http://cynthiaherron.wordpress.com Cynthia Herron

      John, I absolutely smiled when I read this! Since I write contemporary Christian romance, obivously, you might have guessed that I am a huge romantic! Loved how your “crystal ball” suggests that you take your wife her coffee every morning–what a truly romantic, thoughtful, and loving gesture! It’s so important that we keep the romance alive whether we’ve been married 2 yrs or 20. (We recently celebrated our 27th. :) )  Thanks for the dose of humor today…

      And thank you, Michael, for being transparent enough to share. What a blessing and ministry your blog is…

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Thanks Cynthia,
        I remember early in my marriage telling my wife that I wasn’t a mind reader and I didn’t have a crystal ball… I guess I learned the importance of both :-)

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Great stuff!

      I found out that my wife likes it when I roast my own beans way more than that “normal” coffee.  If little things like that help her face her day better, then I’m glad to do them!

      But I don’t bring it to her in bed, with our newest baby, she’s usually still in bed when I leave for work, trying to sleep. Right now, the best I can do is kiss her gently and let her sleep. Later on, when this one is grown a little, things will change a bit, I’m sure.

  • Anonymous

    I believe there are some conflicts that couples never resolve– at least there are in our marriage. We have a few themes in our communication styles that have yet to dove tail. We’re slowly learning to accept these stalemates. In the heat of battle we cry over them. But they don’t define us. 

  • http://Busyness.com Dr. Brad Semp

    “Love and Respect” <<= awesome book and so challenging to practice 100% of the time!  Great post, Michael – especially the subject line of your email that forced me to open and see what was going on :)

  • Julie

    Forwarding to my husband with a “Dear-Rick-after-nearly-24-years-I-still-need-to-get-this-out-of-my-head-and-more-into-my-actions/attitudes-with-you” confession. Thanks, Michael! 

  • http://jonathanpearson.net/ Jonathan Pearson

    “Assume the best about each other.” Think that gets me and my wife a lot of times. We know that the best is reality, but forget it during the heat of argument.

  • Bookncoffee

    Thanks for sharing.  These tidbits of information help so many people.  Marriage is sometimes a struggle and needs to be honored, protected, and fought for.  Thanks for the book recommendation also.  I appreciate your ability to write candidly with clarity.  I always love to see what your blog will be about next.  I also love all the “geek” sites as I call them – like evernote.  Yes, I think we bloggers are geeks but that is an excellent thing to be!  So compliment there!  I’m one too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thank you from a Geek! (I am honored to be in that tribe.)

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Ditto!  I love that tribe!

  • David Adeola

    This is so good though I practise some of it but always good to add an extra nugget to life! Mine is always about who has the last word and my wife can really dig that in! Thank God my wife is my best friend and best critic and we’ve been married now for eh eh..19 years! We love each other dearly!

  • Anonymous

    Two birds with one stone. This is probably my favorite post of yours. “You don’t want to win the battle but lose the war” – as a prideful individual that hates being wrong, this really resonated with me. And I haven’t read Love and Respect yet, so I’ll be picking up a copy now. Thanks for this post!

  • Joe Lalonde

    Thanks for the gentle reminder about dealing with our issues in marriage and in leadership situations.

    I’ve learned that one of the biggest issues in marriage is that we THINK we’re on the same wavelength as our spouse when we’re really not.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      How many times have I got in trouble for assuming that?  One, two, three…..

      • Joe Lalonde

        Probably more times than you have fingers and toes… I know it’s that way for me.

  • http://www.shannonmilholland.blogspot.com Shannon Milholland

    Long before I was a writer, I found my “voice” in my marriage through conflict.  I am a flighter, not a fighter.  I learned to stay, speak and speak in a way I could be heard.  When I tackle tough subjects on my blog, I force myself to go through the same exercise – stay with the topic and speak in a way I can be heard.

  • http://www.balancingmylifeintechnology.com Abby Butts

    I’ve learned that I value my husband and his feelings more than being right or winning.  If I win the argument, but he is still upset or his feelings are still hurt then what did I really win? 

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Awesome! Congratulations on the 33 years. That’s great. And thanks for the lesson in how to fight in a healthy way. Leading DOES start in the home. And to make it even more personal, it starts in our own head, with ourselves. Thank you for the *real*. Revealing yourself like this empowers us. Blessings.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, great blog-post. And thanks for leaving a reference for a great book. I will check into that. Just last night, my husband and I started reading “The Five Love Languages”. I love great books on marriage.

    It’ll be six years for us in November. I feel like we’re still babies in this world, yet we are growing so much together. One of the things I personally have realized is just how important it is for me to really listen to him. I know someone I can really rant and think I know it all. But when I stop to really listen to him, what he says really begins to make sense. My husband is more gentle than I am, by nature. I’m very aggressive and he possess quiet strength. I can get loud… he won’t and yet he can still be firm.  

    My prayer has been for God to show me how to be gentle and how to humble myself when we have a disagreement. At the beginning of our marriage, I’ve wanted to break all the dishes and slam all the doors for him to get my point. Now, we both sit down together to talk…and I listen. We’re both writers, so the conversation is always a long-winded one because we both have to express every detail about our points. LOL! We typically grab a snack for those talks. :)

    Awesome blog-post, as always!

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    In business, you will have to compromise. You do have to listen to each other; that is, if you’re a team. You have deadlines and those have to be met; promises kept. And sometimes it’s your turn to clean up the office kitchen. Gee…that does sound like marriage. :o)

  • http://www.mattandjesskelley.blogspot.com/ Jessica Miller Kelley

    Good points! The other morning, my husband reacted badly to something innocuous that I said, and rather than staying calm (like Gail!) I got mad at him in return for misinterpreting my words, which of course only made the exchange more negative. The business lesson there (which I also experienced this week) is to not let one offense lead to more. I’ve found that if I don’t feel heard in a meeting, or feel my contribution shot down, I get frustrated and withhold future contributions, which just makes me feel worse about the meeting and does not benefit the others in the group.

  • Dale Schaeffer

    Great insight…I especially like “your spouse is not getting up in the morning intending to make your life miserable.”

  • http://twitter.com/JoyVanOeffelen JoyVanOeffelen

    Thanks for the wise advice. I’m getting married in 3 months and this is exactly what we learned in our pre-marriage classes at church. And this really does hold true for leadership as well. Thanks for sharing and for the reminder!

  • Crissy Manwaring

    An excellent post, as always. I will share this one with my spouse, and with others as well. Marriage has taught me more about patience than I ever wanted to learn, and that there is simply no room for selfishness in marriage.

  • http://www.powerofthought.org Nuruddin Abjani

    Michael, you come up with so many different areas of life and share your experiences with us. I have always learnt a lot from you and I am sure all of us do, every day.
     I have shared your posts with a lot of friends, and they are now amongst your ardent admirers & followers.Just wanted to thank you for all your wisdom. God bless you and your near & dear ones, especially your best friend & ‘coach’… NuruddinKarachi, Pakistan

  • Marianafaria Usa

    Great explanation of the unsaid things! I make the sin of forgetting that people cannot read my mind and that when I know I am reading theirs it is nothing but a recipe for failure… Nothing like writing down your expectations, then you can read them to yourself first and on to others. How I change those expectations once I hear them out! I got a lot of fixing to do inside of me and your posts have been a down to earth blessing. Thank you!

  • http://snappycasual.tumblr.com kelsey williams

    Our life group is starting the Love and Respect study in a couple weeks! Excited to hear that you recommend it highly.

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    Point #2 is a gem, I see missed in many marriages. My wife and I have a great marriage, and this one reason — that we assume the best in one another — is at the top of our list.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    People often believe that marriage is a 50-50 thing – where there is supposed to be equal give and equal take.  But I’ve been reminded that marriage is really a 100-100 thing.  When we learn to give of ourselves sacrificially to our spouse 100 percent, it’s amazing how marriage conflict diminishes.

    I appreciate your transparency in this post.  We need examples out there who are honest, imperfect, and God-dependent.  Thank you for sharing this wisdom!

  • http://www.myoneresolution.com/ Don McAllister

    I’ve been married for 7 years now and this is excellent advice! I always try to listen more than talk, and put myself in her shoes. It usually helps. And then I also think that marriage is meant more for our holiness, not our happiness. I think you have to step back and look at the bigger picture and like you say, affirm the priority of the relationship. 

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    How generous of you to share such a personal example.  You and Gail should co-write a book on marriage, something like “Fighting to Lose” (Why Losing is the best Way to Win  in Marriage).  I bet your readers could supply a lot of material.  I paricularly realte to the “rounds” in an arguement – my wife Cathy and I will get past the initial issue and then one of us (usually me) will go back in a little while later and find a way to turn the volume up.

  • http://peterpaluska.com Peter Paluska

    Michael,

    Your candidness and honesty is, as always, a marvel.

    Thank you for sharing this story. It demonstrates true leadership on your part.

    For what is a leader, if not a brave soul who is willing to step up and address the tough issues head on.

    Peter

  • http://www.loveandrespectnow.com Joy Eggerichs

    Great post for a number of reasons. (-: 

    My friend Sarah and I almost tattooed A.T.B. on our hands to remind ourselves daily to “Assume The Best”. I may need to entertain getting that done again. 

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    Darn that missing filter between the pink and blue communication systems. Reminds me of that song from My Fair Lady about “Why can’t a woman think more like a man?”

    A few weeks ago I saw friend truly shine as she shared from the pulpit. Her preaching was anointed and inspired distinct calls to action. From the sidelines I saw her husband completely adore his wife. He is a business owner and strong spiritual leader in our church. At that moment I realized that when the husband leads the home, especially in spiritual matters, the wife is released into her calling much more effectively.

    A central point in leadership is admitting responsibility for the bad as well as the good.

    Kudos on you, Michael.

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    “Love and Respect” has been a book that has greatly impacted my marriage as well.

  • http://www.missionmyth.com Bill

    Excellent post. I really enjoy your blog and this one had great value. Thank you

  • Anne

    I’ve learned that sometimes it’s just fine not to resolve an argument but to sleep on it…we tend to argue more when we’re tired. Sometimes my husband and I just call a “time out” and agree to resume the discussion later when we’re not emotional about it. I’ve also learned not to say everything I’m thinking. Thanks for your blog, Mike. I always get a lot from reading it.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Though I’m not yet married, I can still relate to the list. One of my biggest struggles is reacting. Something very simple, yet life changing came to me from The 4:8 Principle two years ago. I am responsible for my reaction! Those words hit me hard and I still carry them with me today. Dr. Gary Smalley also taught me to memorize scripture relating to things like this. So, when I feel like I’m about to react, I simply say over and over again in my mind, “When pride comes them comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2. 

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    GREAT advice. Much respect for taking responsibility. My wife and I went through a Love & Respect small group this past spring and I think that book should be REQUIRED reading for any couple before marriage.

    Identifying when the “crazy cycle” is happening has helped us avoid more than one fight.

  • Debbie Baskin

    Congrats on 33 years! 
    We’ve been married 31 years – soon to be 32.

    When Mark and I were first married we never fought. However,
    I am not sure that this was a good thing. I would have dreams about him where I
    would wake up and be so angry that I would actually kick him in his sleep.  This probably wasn’t the best way to handle
    disagreements! Fortunately, I stopped bruising the man a few years back.

    Things I’ve learned:  
         

    1.       1.  Handle issues when they are small so that you
    don’t build an impermeable wall.

     

    The ancient Israelites would fortify their
    cities by building unique walls. They would create a rock wall of about a foot
    wide and build another one about 6 or 7 feet away from it. Into that gap, they
    would throw rocks, garbage, and dirt to create a 9 foot wide wall. They used
    their garbage to construct large thick walls that their enemies would have a
    hard time breaking through.

     

    Sometimes, we do this in our
    marriages.  We are at an impasse so each
    of us builds a small wall. At this point we need to break through that wall;
    however, we often start throwing our garbage into the mix and soon we have a
    royal mess and cannot see anyway to tear the wall down.  

     

    Moral of this illustration: Handle the
    issues as they arise and do not allow them to fester and grow.

     

    2.      2.  Be quick to apologize even when you *know* that
    you are right and he is wrong. A gentle response will help to defuse a volatile
    situation. J

    Have you ever had this conversation
    with a child who is fighting with a friend or sibling?

    Parent, “Apologize.”

    Kid, “But, I am not sorry.  I am right! He is not being fair. He hurt me.
    He is wrong…”

    Just like our children need to
    apologize, we need to practice the same instruction in our marriage. A simple, “Honey,
    I’m sorry,” can create an atmosphere where conversation can begin.  Having a good relationship is more important
    than proving that I am right and he is wrong.

    3.      3.  Listen with respect.

    This is important because if you do
    not listen to and respect your spouse, he or she will find someone else who
    will.

    4.       4. Trust each other.

    This one seems pretty reasonable
    yet often trust is lost in a relationship. I am not talking about infidelity
    but in other areas. All of us can make decisions that end up being horrible
    mistakes. When (not if) your spouse makes a bad choice, let it go. Don’t assume
    that he or she can no longer be trusted in that area.

    5.      5.  Finally, remember that you love this person!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent! You should make this a blog post!

      • Debbie Baskin

        I already did. Here’s my link: http://www.proverbs31gal.blogspot.com/

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Great post. Thank you for sharing!

      jim

  • http://twitter.com/fwoodbridge Fred Woodbridge

    I especially like #2, which is something most people will forget in the heat of the ‘battle.’

    The problem really lies at the root of our different natures as men and women—we simply think, relate, feel, act, process information differently. This is the groundbreaking clue in Paul’s ‘love and respect’ verse.

    It takes a tremendous amount of work, as man and wife are simply speaking completely different languages! As with arguing in English with a German speaker, approach with due caution.

    I think the key lies with (first) #2, assuming the best then quickly seguing to #5. Alas, de-personalization, while a laudable attempt, is 90% unworkable. It’s always personal hence the need for this article.

    I believe a good approach is to remember, as a man, that you are largely more logical than your wife. This is not to say that wives aren’t logical, just that they approach issues more emotionally than men. These are generalizations, I understand, but that doesn’t make it wrong. That said, it is counter-productive to approach an ‘argument’ (more really, a fight) as a purely logical endeavor; more than anything, this is what we men forget, regardless of the clues our wives constantly put out. For the missus, it is almost all emotional and so that is the plain on which the fight will take place.

    As a husband listening to understand first helps defuse the emotion because the listener is absorbing the emotional energy pouring out of the speaker which leads to a change in the battlefield, from a roiling landscape to a more stable platform when logic can be given a chance to rear its head.

    The key is to remember to change her mood, not her mind. Mood, then mind. Love is an emotion and that, as Eggerichs and Paul have said, is what women want. Respect is a processed (read: logical) property, the domain of men. Engage the emotions, engage the mood then perhaps, once she *feels* understood, engage the mind.

  • Ivanhoe Sanchez

    I got to have a conversation… I will definitely have this 5 points in mind.   Thanks a million.

  • http://soulstops.com Soulstops

    Thanks for the great tips and we have used every one of them in our twenty years of marriage.  One other tip:  it is okay to step away for a moment, or longer, if both or one of you is so upset that one or both of you cannot continue to be constructive in resolving your conflict.   Before a conflict arises, or before stepping away,  both parties agree that once one or the two of you have calmed down then you will both meet again to resolve the conflict.  This has helped us both.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • elise

    Really good, Michael. Thanks for your clarity and honesty. I have learned that forgiveness has to generously given and received. I’ve also been reminded recently of the gift of mercy I’ve received endlessly from God is a gift that I have to offer to my spouse of 26 years time and time again. Oh and also that love is a decision, not always a feeling.

  • Tiffany

    I learned to drop the pride and haughtiness and put my husband’s need above my own and everytime I do that he ends up hearing what I am saying and where I am coming from…humility is key for both of us….thanks for sharing

  • DGT

    My husband and I was just having a conversation about this very thing last night.  And today I’m carrying with  me the book Love & Respect to read for myself.  My husband already read it.  Thank you so much for the helpful points.  Well note and taken!

  • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

    Expectations! Ha…that is so true! My wife and I are both pretty thin-skinned (she’s prettier though) and we don’t fight a whole lot…BUT on two trips this summer, we had two really good fights.

    As we drove past Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (no joke!), my miscommunicated expectations got the best of me! My wife swore she saw horns and fangs on my face…the devil didn’t make me do it, but boy, did I give him a good boost up!

    Another good word Mike…solid marriage advice to live by.

  • Roweroo

    Agreeing on all points and chiming in:
    1. Go so far as to not burden your spouse with expectations when possible. We will never meet them all anyway.
    2. Always assuming the best from them doesn’t reflexively mean my motives are so great. I have to show the guts to self-examine–it’s at once disarming and relieving. It immediately puts my spouse in a more golden light, for example, when I acknowledge to myself that I just then wanted to poke him in the eye with a stick while he was just wanted us to get caught up on the tax paperwork.
    3. When things get really crazy, say out loud, “We both really do want good things and a good marriage and we will work this out.” It will make your locomotion “derail”.
    Regardless of finer points, you’ll know you’ve “arrived” in leadership when you can stop the craziness in the moment and re-direct the conflict to a point of love and resolution. Talk about earning some respect!

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  • Brian

    Hi Michael:  Loved this one, great example of turning our difficult times into learning opportunities…I tied into it with my blog: http://whatdoyouexpect.wordpress.com/.  I have written on expectations in my book “What do you expect? The question you need to ask!”  Life has taught me not to take expectations as an afterthought.  Makes all aspects of life so much better.  So thanks for focusing on this today!

  • http://prophetsandpopstars.com Chris Harrison

    Definitely sounds like it could have been in my house. As I pastor a community here in Glendale, CA, I am constantly confronted with husbands and wives in the middle of the “crazy cycle” — shame you can’t call people crazy…

    Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to systematize the resolution cycle. I’ll be passing this post out – a – plenty! 

    Really appreciate your work here. I read often without commenting. I’ll work on changing that. 

    Peace!

  • http://twitter.com/gljones01 Greg Jones

    I think the thing that is hardest to remember in the heat of the moment is that the other person is not the enemy. The real Enemy would like your marriage to disintegrate. 

    My wife is really good at taking a breath and backing away from the situation for clarity. I am more for getting the issue resolved quickly. This caused friction and a huge “crazy cycle” when we first got married. I saw her as not caring and she saw me as trying to control things. As time went on, and much discussion we came to the conclusion that we needed to do the following things:

    1. Invest more in understanding each other. We did this through books such as “Love & Respect” (huge fan of that book). 
    2. Taking breaks from each other when we see that we are on a crazy cycle. Getting out temporarily is a great tool. Either go work out or get together with a friend and get your mind off the situation. Very, very rarely will the situation be as big later on, as it seems to be in the heat of the moment.
    3. Go do something random and fun together. Sometimes we would go play ping-pong during the midst of a blow-up. 
    4. Trying to do what Michael said: see that person’s motives as pure and they mean well. 

    These are a few things that were top of mine. Great post and great discussion. Glad to know I am not the only one who struggles in this area! :)

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Greg, this is good advice… to invest in understanding each other.

      Two things that I resolved before I got married: (1) I would not hold past mistakes/mis-steps against my wife (not keeping a record of wrongs); and (2) when we did argue/fight, I would never resort to personal attacks. Someone gave me the advice before I got married to always fight fair… have an attitude of humility and understanding toward your wife, and your arguments will go much better.

  • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

    I’ve learned from conflict in my own marriage that most of the time its just not worth it.  When you do your best to eliminate the emotions from the problem and work at it constructively instead of destructively, things go much better.

    Personal attacks, yelling, just don’t work and don’t make you (and especially your mate)  feel any better.

    “Love and Respect” is absolutely the BEST marriage book out there and I credit it, along with a great counselor, for saving our marriage a few years ago.  You should read it even if your marriage is not in trouble, you’ll learn much.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, I’ve found that trying (as much as possible) to take the emotion our of the argument can help you get to the root of the problem much more quickly.

      • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

        I’ve found with both the wife and the kids that if I stay calm and in control even when one of them is yelling at me, they eventually chill out somewhat and the situation gets resolved much quicker.

  • Jasmine P Grimm

    Michael, have you ever tried the “no repouts” rule. My father-in-law taught me it. Whenever you’re arguing and you crack and smile or laugh, the other person calls out “No repouts” and usually both parties start giggling. My husband and I use it and it works pretty well. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love that! I’m going to start using it.

  • http://www.inspirationtochange.org Karen Zeigler

    So glad you got off your wife’s air hose – you big clumsy elephant! Lol!  In leadership there are more than one air hose that can be stepped on so I’m sure the correlation can keep you blogging for several more posts.  Great stuff, great book recommendation! Keep it coming!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the air hose metaphor. I first heard it from Gary Smalley.

  • http://www.livesimplylove.com Merritt | LiveSimplyLove

    One of the best bits of advice I got as a newlywed was exactly what you said in #2 – “Remember that he doesn’t get up in the morning intending to make you mad.” As I’ve used that reminder in the midst of conflict it’s helped me come to his side of the table and absolutely changed the course of our conversation (I’m not intending it to insinuate that has anything to do with my wonderful handling of conflict. He’s usually the one to exhibit the greatest sense of patience and reason. But changing my perspective has helped me cool down a lot). Thanks for sharing this. 

  • http://www.livesimplylove.com Merritt | LiveSimplyLove

    Another great piece of advice I heard from a marriage communications class… Start using the phrase “You might be right about that.” in a disagreement and see what happens.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, “You might be right about that” is a good tool to use.

      Also, I’ve found that this works well in communication… “What I hear you saying is…” Because communication is both about what you’re saying, and how the person is hearing what you’re saying. Sometimes, what I hear my wife saying is not what she’s trying to communicate to me.

  • http://www.solidsyntaxprogrammer.com Jerod Houghtelling

    Thank you for your insight. I appreciated learning from your experience. On an unrelated note,  I thought the picture looked familiar, which I found out is almost the same picture you used on  http://michaelhyatt.com/ten-difficult-but-really-important-words.html 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m trying save on my photo costs. :-)

  • http://www.awomansview.typepad.com Lenore Buth

    Great post, Michael. You identified the causes of conflict in every conflict.

    My husband and I have been married way longer than you and Gail. We’ve learned no matter how long you’ve been married, you’re always in new territory. How could it be otherwise? Each of us is always changing and life situations keep changing. Giving each other room to grow, a love gift if there ever was one, still can feel unsettling and sometimes causes conflict, even now. But it doesn’t last.

    We love our Lord and we love each other. That never changes. So we start–and end–every day on solid ground.

    Your advice to look for the good reminds me of Luther’s phrase in his old catechism, “Put the best construction on everything.”

  • http://sarahjoyliteraryagent.wordpress.com/ Sarah Joy

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I was married a little over a month ago, and my husband and I are definitely learning that communicating while engaged is a bit different than communicating while married. My mother-in-law gave us these kneeling pillows so that whenn either of us are able to work through an argument, we both get down on the kneeling pillows and pray. Plus, we have verses picked out to read to each other (no, his is not “Wives submit to your husbands” :)) to remind each other about who we are in Christ.

    Sarah Joy, an associate agent-in-training

  • Lea Sims

    I’ve learned from a failed marriage and now a thriving one that going toe to toe with your spouse sometimes is healthy. Avoiding a fight can do as much damage to your relationship as carrying a fight too far. I’ve learned that my passion for an issue should never override my passion for my husband. I’ve learned that women and men don’t think the same, process the same, or place the same weight or value on things, and being blind to that fact in a square-off with your spouse will mean YEARS of frustration and debilitating relational disconnect. And I’ve learned that the interpreter in any dialogue you have with your spouse needs to be the Holy Spirit.

  • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

    Very humble, Michael.  And consistent with every lesson I’ve ever heard about marriage…start by looking in the mirror!  

    Reminds me of a great quote last weekend from Chip Ingram’s series “Marriage: Built to Last”.   He said “Love is giving the other person what they need most when they least deserve it, at great personal sacrifice.”

    That kinda raised the bar…!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a beautiful quote from Chip Ingram. Thanks for sharing it!

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    This is a wonderful guidebook for fighting a good fight. The important question is not whether or not we fight, but how we fight.

    “In this particular argument, I had a set of unexpressed expectations that Gail failed to meet.” This is a good one. How often we quietly assume that the other person can read our minds!

     I have learned the truth of assuming the best about the other person. When I do this, I am more ready to listen well, and we’re more able to arrive at sensible agreements.

    Thank you, Michael, for sharing personally.

  • Emerson Eggerichs

    Sarah and I still get on the Crazy Cycle too, even after 38 years!  It’s nice to know we’re in good company.  We were so blessed by your wisdom and practical leadership application that we shared your post with our entire staff today.  Thank you for your insight and encouragement, Michael!

    Emerson Eggerichs

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am so honored that you dropped by Emerson! You and Sarah are such good role models in this. I am so grateful you wrote the book. I have shared it with so many, including those in my mentoring group.
      Warm regards.

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  • Moye1908

    This was a mouthful… My husband and I have been asked to head the Marriage Ministry at my church, and I was just thinking what books we should share with the married couples in our marriage group… I like point #5 I would often say that my husband does a lot of talking but never listens, but the truth is I believe I’m the worst listener when it comes to an issue we are trying to resolve….Thanks for sharing… 

    • http://idoneousurl.tumblr.com/ VerecundAmaranth

      Life’s nuisances, conflict in general, and such, often reminds me of so many poignant stories which put it all in perspective long before circumstances would otherwise cloud one’s perspective long enough to permit an escalation of an issue in the heat of the moment. Case in point relating to conflict, among many examples, involves a Christian talk show host’s poignant remark. Was many years ago, details I forgot, but the message burned itself into my memory on a profound level no circumstance can obscure in the heat of any moment. Went like this:

      One morning, they woke up. Some got into a fight with their spouse, perhaps over a silly matter or even important. Some criticized their kids for “again wearing that” or “still eating this”. Then drove to work. Perhaps on the way, or even perhaps while already sitting in their office, came up with a clever retort to vindicate their position, to unequivocally vanquish their beloved “adversary”. Then of course the planes hit the Twin Towers, many never returned home to finish that argument, or to have it finished by their spouse.

      Still haunts me to this day, yet, one of many poignant stories and events which perpetually help me maintain my focus in many situations regardless.

  • Mommakisses

    When we did our premarital counseling 13 years ago, we were given this advice: when you fight, hold hands. Why? Because it’s very hard to be mad at someone when you are touching them. I don’t know why that is, but I can tell you when my husband takes my hand it’s like a release valve for steam, and allows us to think a little more clear headed and actually talk about issues rather than attacking each other.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      That is very good advice. I don’t remember where I saw it, but I saw a video of a group of strangers who were asked to sit in a very tight circle (with their knees almost touching), and the result was that they left feeling much more connected to each other (it really didn’t matter what they were talking about). I think it’s a great idea to use this same concept when you’re fighting (or even talking) with your spouse.

      Oh, I remember what it was… it was a Stanford Entreprenurial Thought Leader podcast (excellent podcast, BTW).

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Love and Respect is a great book, maybe I should re-read it… Great advice on how to handle conflict in marriage! I appreciate your willingness to share from your personal experience. I also appreciate that you realize a true leader leads well at home as well as at work, they can’t be separated out. Thanks for sharing, I really needed to hear that.

  • http://twitter.com/jamespinnick7 James Pinnick

    Michael, I love your point on…”Affirm the priority of the relationship”.
    I would still love my wife even if she has the nastiest thing to say to me that day. It’s the reason why I married her in the first place.

    I try to stay patient and realize there are better days ahead….

    James Pinnick
    http://www.jamespinnick.com/
    Author of The Last Seven Pages

  • Lea Sims

    After a failed marriage and now a thriving one, I have learned that going toe to toe with your spouse every once in awhile is healthy and purgative. Avoiding a fight is almost as bad as carrying one too far. I’ve learned that my passion for my point of view should never eclipse my passion for my husband. I’ve learned that men and women think differently, process differently, and don’t place the same weight and value on the same things. If you refuse to acknowledge the fundamental truth that God made us that way ON PURPOSE, you’ll spend years in frustrated disconnect with your spouse. And I’ve learned that God connects our two different gender approaches by sending us a mediator – the Holy Spirit.

  • http://www.thegiftofmondays.com/ colleen laquay urbaniuk

    love this post…especially the part where you say you have to move around to their side of the table. genius! and something i hope “sticks” with me. though i won’t always remember all the steps of a plan, usually something jumps out at me that really hits home. (sometimes it’s the small concept that seems to help me most of all.) thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Anonymous

    I read The 5 Love Languages (by Gary Chapman) and immediately saw the benefit of applying the principles to work relationships as well as in my marriage. 

    Ironically, last week I had a blow up with an influential executive because apparently I needed to read today’s post last week. Ha! Now I’m working out a strategy to make amends. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=736545227 Karla Reisch Akins

    I just realized while reading this that I make my husband a stronger
    leader by arguing with him. LOL. No, really, I tend to be passive a lot
    of the time just to keep peace. I am working on not being so
    codependent. I do him a disservice by not letting him exercise those
    leadership skills in areas I disagree. Ignoring issues doesn’t fix
    things and doesn’t help him grow. I gotta remember this.  And you’re
    soooo right on the expectation thing. I think most of any couple’s
    issues stem from that alone.

  • mdmaurer

    Great post that I’ll be sharing with my husband. We both need to read this. ;)

  • Cherie

    I am learning to trust God even more. To trust God! that He is continuing to work His good work in both of us, that again nothing is impossible for us – that I must not lose heart, but continue to believe that God is healing, restoring and leading us in His perfect love.  God is well able. I need only look to Him and trust Him, that He is answering my prayers.  And while I am believing, I forgive, I do good, as best I can, by being good to my husband. When the fighting words are said, I’ve learned to step back, not react as I desire to, and not be offended either.  I must regroup, remember that God is working, and continue to believe.  That’s what I’m learning from conflict these days.  God is working His good work and what I need do is draw nearer to Him.

  • Terry

    Excellent advise – but as we all know, difficult to implement at the moment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1360995871 Anna Grassini

    Great wisdom for all of us.  As usual, the important thing about marriages is to keep working at it…the minute we quit, it’s the minute the relationship fails.

  • Anonymous

    Very bold and transparent of you to share this.  

    Related to point #2, I remember an Andy Stanley message in which he discusses “believing the best” (I Corinthians 13:7).  Great stuff.  Wish I could remember the exact title.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Great points. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is to STOP TRYING TO BE RIGHT all the time. The better I become at living that out and not having to prove something, the less friction I create that leads to unnecessary arguments. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is great advice, Daniel. I was afflicted with the same disease early in my career.

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  • Bridget

    My husband and I have been married for 23 years and one thing I have learned is to admit when I am wrong a little sooner.  At some point in any argument we can find things we overreact to and I have found that by saying I am sorry as soon as I realize that I am wrong rather than holding on to anger just to be right makes a big difference.  Pride is a difficult thing to swallow, but something you have to learn to do if you want to preserve your relationship with the most important person in your life – the one partner God chose for you to get you through the tough times! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Michael and thanks to Gayle for allowing us to learn from both of you!  She sounds like an amazing woman!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500402795 Joanna Henzel

    Question though: It’s easier to assume the best things about your spouse, but what about the person who you don’t actually think has any vested interest or best interests of everyone in mind (and has numerously tried to undermine you)? What then?

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    “…you have to move their side of the table…” Usually I want to stand my ground and press the issue, but I like the imagery you use here. I’ve learned conflict leads to a breakthrough moment and a deeper understanding of one another. It’s like a thunderstorm on dry land, scary at first but necessary for growth.

  • http://twitter.com/dan_steer Dan Steer

    Thinking about point 1, I add that I try to focus on what TYPE of conflict I am having with my wife. Is it about “Facts”, “Goals”, “Approach” or “Values”?

    Sometimes I think its about “Approach” (eg: “What shall we do with our evening?”) only to realise that we have different “Goals” that stop us from seeing why the “Approach” is not suitable (eg “What do I want out of my non-children-time-off?”).

    And much of the time, we are in fact arguing about “Values”, the toughest nut to crack. What IS good? What do we LIKE? As a general rule, the bigger the conflict symptoms, the bigger the chance I’ve stepped onto (or over!) a value-line.

  • http://twitter.com/dan_steer Dan Steer

    ..and since I didn’t mention “Facts” I will note only that it was NOT me that left the toilet seat up !

  • http://www.inteliwise.com VirtualAgents

    This is a great lesson.  Nothing helps like hope especially when we are discouraged or being hurt in relationship. Learn from conflicts is the best way to manage yourself. 

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Great piece of advice to people who are single and getting ready to be married. Misunderstanding can happen anywhere, but it takes intentional,ent  conscious and consisteffort on our end to maintain cordial relationship with our life  partners.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MelissaMashburnMelsWorld Melissa Scarbrough Mashburn

    Wow! So much great stuff packed into this post…in your 33 years of marriage you and Gail have learned lots of great stuff and it’s such a sweet gift when you share those little nuggets with us too. Marriage is not easy, that’s for sure, but with Christ at the center and two people willing to do the work it is absolutely a beautiful thing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Melissa. We are blessed. We love sharing with other couples.

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  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Ha!  I wish I could learn such specific leadership principles from a fight with my wife.  All I usually get from those is what not to do next time…

    Really great stuff in this post.  Heather and I have been working to make sure our marriage is as solid as we can make it, and these principles are gold.  there wasn’t really anything new here for me, but it was great to have succinct, concise reminders of timeless principles!  Thanks!

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  • http://amylynnandrews.com Brian Andrews

    What’s helped me is memorizing and meditating on my job description (Ephesians 5:25-33) and praying for my wife every day.  It’s really helped when I’ve been tempted to have an adversarial attitude.

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  • http://twitter.com/niallgavinuk Niall Gavin

    There is nothing more infuriating – and with the potential to push an argument (or even a relationship) even further into the irrecoverable – than either party making  erroneous assumptions of the other’s motive. We’ve learned to listen to/hear each other without prejudice, but it’s been a hard-won place to get to (it’s taken us nearly 30 years).  Thanks for this post Michael.

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  • Christy

    We were at a marriage retreat with Jon Coursin this past weekend and he just kept saying,”Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” From Matt. 6:21.  His comments and then your post regarding the aspect of always thinking the best of your spouses intentions hit home for me. If my heart is invested in the things of the Lord and I “assume” the best of my spouse it really takes the fight out of my naturally sinful heart. Thank you!

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  • TD

    Insightful and concise, How do I affirm the importance of the relationship w/o my need for alone time threatening her?
     I might add there is no infidelity or abuse in this 30 year relationship just fears on her part of not being loved enough and fears on my part of not being able to fulfill my responsibilities and being smothered. I also tend to withdraw from intimacy.

  • Josh

    Michael,

    Had a big fight with my wife tonight.  We have only been married 4 months.  Thank you for this post.  It and the book your recommended are a blessing in this dark moment. 

  • http://twitter.com/TheScottMorgan Scott Morgan

    #4 might well be the most challenging, in my experience.  You almost can’t help but to be or get personal with this person with whom you live, and it becomes very easy to cross that line (especially where anger or hard feelings are involved).  But I also agree with the nod to Stephen Covey…understanding the others’ frame of reference is important to a mutual resolution.  I can just about guarantee that you can’t get to that point if you violate #4.  Keeping things as objective as possible is most definitely a necessary component to conflict resolution.

  • paharms

    Often one reads something that impresses and stimulates a re-read.
    This is one of those special snippets of wisdom that not only opens one’s eyes but also opens the mind and leaves an indelible impression on the heart.

    Thank you for sharing!