Q&A: Unwilling to discuss issues

Q: What do you do when your spouse is unwilling to compromise or discuss issues that you don’t agree on in your marriage?

A: The key is to dig down below the surface issue to what is actually driving both spouses’ feelings of hurt. Instead of getting stuck arguing about a specific issue (money, sex, children, work, etc.) or what each partner is doing wrong, use the opportunity to discuss what is really going on deep inside of you.

What drives hurt and frustration in marriage? Buttons. Whenever someone says something that hurts you or makes you mad, it pushes your buttons. Common buttons include feeling rejected, abandoned, helpless, inadequate, unloved, worthless, or unimportant. All of these buttons are ultimately rooted in fear. When someone pushes your fear button, you tend to react with unhealthy words or actions calculated to motivate the other person to change and give you what you want. For example, if you fear being a failure, you want to feel successful. If you fear being rejected, you desire to feel accepted. Most of us use unhealthy reactions to deal with our fear, and as a result, we sabotage our relationships.

The key to breaking this cycle is for you and your spouse to first identify your buttons, and then your reactions. Remember, you can either talk about the surface issue, arguing about what the other person does that hurts or frustrates you, or you can talk about what is really driving your hurt and frustration—your buttons. Don’t be afraid to ask an outside party for help with this process, if necessary. Please do not hesitate to call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.  

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