The Problem with Problems
- Money —-> there’s none left or you see the receipt from a shopping trip
- Going on Dates —–> its Saturday night and you still at home
- Division of Work —–> Wife’s had a hard day with the kids and husband comes home and needs to work after dinner
- Kids doing things when they are told —–> its 9:30pm and he just started his homework.
One of the biggest problems with problems is when they happen. Timing. We start talking after the problem has already happened. You’re mad. You’re being blamed. Likely you’re busy and tired. In these circumstances, its easy to see how conversations quickly lead to arguments that don’t turn out well.
And then when you’re not dealing with a problem, why rock the boat by bringing it up? Just deal with it when it comes up again. Right? Then you will be talking about what happened this time and the last 5 times and you’re upset.
For problems that keep coming up, often a helpful strategy is to talk about when it isn’t happening right in front of you. This will help start your conversation off as best as possible. Research has shown how a conversation starts is one of the most predictive factors of how successful it will be.
So for the problems that keep coming up, here are some ideas to tweak your approach…
- Give a preview —> give each other some notice about what you want to talk about instead of just launching into the conversation
- Put the weapons down —-> Start off with neutral or positive statements like “I want us to get better at….” instead of “we have to talk about how you never….”
- Know your limits —> For issues that you’ve been dealing with for a while, there is likely a backlog of unresolved situations and feelings but know what you are going to focus on and stay there. It isn’t possible to work through everything in one conversation.