6 Notes to Myself Before Our Next Fight

My thoughts in the car after a garden-variety argument with my spouse on a long ride home:

If somebody says to you, “You hurt my feelings,” (1) believe them.

  • Don’t argue.
  • Don’t get defensive.
  • Don’t tell them they’re wrong.

Just believe them. Because of your previous words or behaviors, they now feel pain.

An appropriate next step might be to (2) say, “I’m sorry. Can you tell me more?”

(3) And then listen and believe what they tell you next.

  • You don’t have to agree with their interpretation.
  • You don’t have to confess fault to a motive you didn’t have (unless you did have it).
  • You don’t have to say everything else you’re thinking.

But can you just believe this is how they’re feeling? That this is what they’re hearing? That, intentionally or not, you have hurt them?

And if you really want to engage love, (4) can you listen closer to offer appropriately fresh words of compassion? (5) Perhaps give an apology for causing pain, asking for nothing in return? (6) Perhaps make a resolve to repair the damage and cause less pain next time?

There’s a difference between agreement and understanding. We don’t have to agree on everything. But can we attempt to better understand each other?

Show mercy. Give grace.

Practice love.

* * *

We all have conflicts with people we love. The way we respond in these clashes is what makes or breaks a day. A relationship. A life.

I’m grateful for the people (especially my spouse) who show me mercy, give me grace, and practice love with me when I need it most.

May I do likewise for them.

This is a life of love. It makes long car rides much more pleasant.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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11 thoughts on “6 Notes to Myself Before Our Next Fight

  1. Barbara Harper

    Good advice. Too often, our first instinct is to defend ourselves. But we need to understand what we did or said that hurt and acknowledge the other’s feelings, even though we might not have meant to be hurtful.

  2. Kym

    Wise advice! Why are we so quick to defend ourselves rather than just acknowledge the other person’s hurt? I guess because we’re flawed humans. But the details can be sorted out later if necessary – dry tears and provide comfort for pain now. Visiting from IMM #28

  3. Jennifer

    Great reminder….and wise words. Thanks for sharing. “Taking ownership” of ones’ actions (intentional or otherwise) seems almost to be a lost art. Hmm, I was typing more but I will leave it at that:) Here’s to a month of pleasant car rides ahead!:)

  4. Jean Wise

    Great points. Last week I attended a workshop on “microagressions” words we use and don’t realize they hurt someone else. One point they made that in the interaction after the event was to listen openly and don’t get defensive. Then when they gave examples I kept catching myself defending, excusing and generally being defensive. I think I get on the defensive much more than I realized! New personal insight.

  5. Paula Short

    Lisa this is great advice. I’ve had friends in the not so distant past that when I said they hurt my feelings, they said ” wah… buckle grateful up buttercup” Which respectfully hurt my feelings more. And I tried to tell them why they responded with ” your feelings got hurt, poor you” And they didn’t offer to explain why they said what they said. I’m told I’m too sensitive. But being to sensitive it not the point in speaking like that. There are adult bullies out there. I pinned this for future reference. I am grateful you shared this as this is something that I needed to hear today.
    I appreciate you sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month my friend.

  6. Aritha

    Lisa, thank you so much. Wise lesson. Good listening is crucial in a healthy relationship ans it’s important to truly pay attention and try to understand their perspective.

    It helps me (sometimes) to repeat what my partner says. This shows that I am paying attention and it gives me extra time to think.

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