This is a technique used by many marriage counselors and by folks who have what I call a “high emotional intelligence.” Many of us use this technique in a work setting without realizing it and without translating the skill to our personal life.
It goes like this:
Bride: “YOU DIDN’T CALL THE LIMO COMPANY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? We’re a MONTH away from the wedding and I asked you to do this 11 MONTHS AGO?”
Let’s process the reaction they’re going to get. The groom is going to be extremely defensive, right? He’s also likely to be pissed that he’s getting yelled at. However he responses with those emotions varies from guy to guy. Some guys are going to just walk out the door. Some guys will get defensive, attack the bride back, or try to ignore the tension completely. She’s going to take her current state of emotions and they’ll jump 100x more forceful in response to his reaction.
Now let’s think through our brides emotions, and simply shift our word choice, and our tone. Instead of freaking out about HIM and what HE DIDN’T DO, let’s focus on the only thing she can honestly talk about: her feelings.
What is she feeling? Probably scared there will be no limos left for her wedding day. Vulnerable to the fact that she can’t control everything. Frustrated and feeling distrustful that when her groom agreed to do something, he didn’t. That leads to feeling helpless. If he can’t even do something he agreed to, then she’s really got to take over and that makes her feel sad and powerless.
Notice all those are about HER, not him? So let’s change the conversation around.
“We don’t have a limo? Oh my gosh. That makes me so scared there won’t be any left. I’m feeling so helpless right now that I get a promise from you and it didn’t happen. I need to you know that I’m SERIOUSLY FREAKING OUT NOW and feeling let down that you promised and didn’t follow through.”
Then STOP. That is the magic. Express yourself. Then STOP. Wait for his response. Don’t keep the verbal diarhea going.
Now he’s going to respond to your VULNERABILITY. He’s going to hear you’re scared, you’re feeling let down, you’re feeling helpess. This gives him an opening to express his vulnerability. He probably feels like a total jerk. He probably feels like a loser for forgetting or procrastinating. He might also be extremely frustrated that he had no idea limos book up and that he was supposed to do this months ago. And he might also now feel COMPLETELY HELPLESS on what to do and how to manage your emotions, plus his.
Once you hear his side, you’ve all put your eggs on the table and can work together, as a team, to figure out where to put your emotions and how to get the limo fixed. And hopefully in the process you’ve realized by never attacking, even if it’s extremely tempting, you are guarenteed to get better results.
If you have tried this, or find you have the same fights over and over, reward yourself with some premarital counseling (or marriage therapy). We have fantastic counselors all over the nation that love to help strenthen the bond between two commited individuals. We also have books and an online inventory to help you two lay out your strengths and areas of growth opportunity. See our premarital counseling page.