Q: When we have a disagreement and there is emotion involved, how can we express how we feel, instead of resorting to defending our position? 

A: Great question. If we don’t get this question answered, we repeat the same arguments and habits and get caught in a loop. Abe Lincoln was known for writing letters … sometimes very scathing letters, and then revisiting his words before he sent them to make sure it was really what he wanted to say. 

When our adrenal glands kick in, we are in fight or flight mode and often times that doesn’t make for the most logical conversations. It helps to table topics that get tense, and revisit them at a later time when our emotions aren’t heightened. When it is a good time to talk, ask for forgiveness. Say, “I’m sorry I upset you. I’m sorry we couldn’t talk about that. I had a tough day and I ended up turning that negativity on you and I apologize for that.” Or whatever needs to be said. Then you can state what you meant to say, without all the emotion involved.

When you are not in an emotional state, those are the best times to set the ground rules. We need to create an environment where everybody knows what the rules are and the plan. Then you can ask this question regarding the previous (heated) conversation or argument:

“What could we have done differently that may have produced a better outcome?”

Also take time to dig deeper and reflect together. Ask, “What is the underlying trigger?” 

There is a trigger that caused heightened emotions toward your spouse, take time to discover it. Click To Tweet What it that you felt misunderstood? That you had a bad day? Something from the past? Take that time to seek to understand one another. 

In review; 

  1. When the conversation is turned into a heightened emotional state. Recognize that it won’t be very productive moving forward and table it. 
  2. Once you find an opportune time to revisit it logically, apologize and take time to explain what you really meant to communicate.
  3. Ask “What could we have done differently that may have produced a better outcome?” 
  4. Dig deeper and reflect together. Ask, “What is the underlying trigger?”