The aim in ‘solving problems’ is to get better at handling ‘moments’. This requires conflicted couples to both adopt improved communication skills (and I often find it is helped as couples are praying together or being very deliberate about promoting each other’s interests, despite contrary feelings and pressures).
Daniel Wile describes a collaborative cycle which adopts admission, acknowledgment, listening, comfort, reaching out, being conciliatory, giving the benefit of the doubt, building on what each other is actually saying. This is obviously easier said than done and people can break out of this cycle too easily.
What is needed is a discipline in communication that focuses on your personal feelings. Men especially don’t usually find this easy. Their natural desire for control promotes the ‘fallback measures’ of attack, withdrawal or solution in an attempt to regulate what they believe needs to happen. However, describing feelings that admit fears and frustrations as their own requires a decision to overlook the shortcomings of others. (Try a statement that starts with “I feel” and avoids diversions such as “You”, “Your”, “They”, “Them”, “She”, “He”; it’s not easy, but it’s important to escape the damage that fallback talk does).
Women may sometimes find communication easier, but often interpret their feelings through a security grid. The need to feel safe is a strong motivator, so describing what they feel may sometimes be linked too much to what they believe they need to feel or what they fear losing. The fallback measures of attack, withdrawal and solution can then be perceived as nagging or disapproval, especially with men who have an affirmation deficit, whereas women can often use them as a means of gaining the security which has been lost or which feels threatened.
Yet it is never as simple as citing gender differences as we are all a unique blend of many factors. Ultimately, a compassionate viewpoint tries to understand the other point of view and it tries therefore to describe your own feelings honestly and vulnerably as your feelings! This expression of unconditional love invites two-way collaborative mood management, alleviating pressure and problems in creating more maximised moments.