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Friday, February 6, 2009

Philosphy Friday - What Did Your Spouse Mean?

We believe it is important to not assume that you understand what your spouse is thinking. You have spent a lot of intimate time with your wife or husband. It is really easy to make assumptions that you already know why your spouse did or said something. However, life is never so simple as we try to make it in our minds. It is important to take the time to check in and make sure your perception of a situation is correct. The following cartoon helps illustrate this point.
In this comic strip we see a woman trying to help Bernie. But what exactly is she trying to help him do? Is she trying to help him to get eaten by the shark? Straightening out his leg will put his leg closer to the shark's mouth. Those that tend to ascribe the evil motivations to others will likely assume that she really wants to see Bernie get hurt and possibly killed in this situation. Then again this woman may genuinely be trying to help Bernie swim quicker to shore. She may have absolutely no comprehension that by straightening his legs, Bernie is in greater danger. In fact just the opposite, she may think that she is really helping him get safely back to shore.

So what assumptions have you been making with your spouse? Is it possible that some of the problems that you are experiencing in your marriage are based on false assumptions? Maybe not, but if there is any doubt, take the time to check in with your spouse. Ask them. Make sure you understand their perspective and be willing to admit to yourself that you might be wrong. Your marriage may benefit greatly from being willing to do this regularly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Tip - 02-03-2009

Have you ever heard of secondary and primary emotions? A secondary emotion occurs because another emotion caused it. Anger is almost always a secondary emotion. Primary emotions that typically cause anger are fear, embarrassment, or depression. Lets look at a real life example to illustrate this further.

A wife is angry that her husband and children messed up the house while she was out. All she sees and thinks about is being angry. She has no clue what has really caused the anger, unless she takes some time to think about it. (Which reminds me of this phrase: You can't be angry when you are thinking and you can't be thinking when you are angry). She may be embarrassed to have a messy house. Or she may feel threatened because she knows that it will cost her time and energy to clean up. Or it may overwhelm her as she sees cleaning up as one more thing on her to do list.

Normally when someone expresses anger, usually others shut down and don't listen. Anger separates people. However talking about primary emotions brings people together. If she would say "I am overwhelmed when I see that I have more work to do" instead of letting off an angry tirade, the chances are greater that her husband and children will connect with her and work to solve the issue instead of shutting down.

So take some time and try to identify your primary emotion and not just react.