How to Keep Issues from Multiplying
- Dr. David B. Hawkins The Marriage Recovery Center
- 2014 10 Jun
“Issues are like tissues,” a young woman said recently, as she strained to discuss the many issues facing she and her husband who had come to The Marriage Recovery Center.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It seems like one issue leads to another issue,” she said. “We never seem to get through one without another popping up.”
Her husband readily agreed, nodding his head in approval.
“We fight about one thing, and before I know it we’re on to something else,” he said. “We fight until one of us is exhausted, and then we drop it. But, the issue comes back up again sometime later.”
Many relationships struggle with the “issues like tissues” phenomenon, but thankfully it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is going on with the “issues like tissues” couple? Perhaps you’ve felt the same way and wonder what is really going on. Do you have to fight about the same things over and over again, and does one issue have to lead to another?
“No,” I say.
A couple facing endless issues is really struggling with a number of problems that make these issues seem endless. For example, this couple also struggled with setting healthy boundaries on their problems, allowing them to seep over into other areas of their lives. They lacked self-control and appropriate respect for their mate.
Additionally, they were struggling with having an effective method for resolving issues, desperately needing healthy conflict resolution skills. With one issue paper-clipped to another issue, there was no way to find healthy resolution to their problems.
Yet another dilemma facing many couples is their lack of ability to manage their emotions so that they could stay on one topic at a time. Emotion tends to drive us into radical thinking, making radical, provocative comments. This does nothing to solve problems.
Let’s consider what a couple can do so that issues won’t seem like an endless box of tissues.
First, talk about one issue at time. This requires self-discipline and practice. You must stay focused and agree on the topic. Make a vow that there is nothing good that can come from trying to talk about multiple issues at the same time.
Second, allow for one speaker, one listener. Two people sharing their point of view and feelings at the same time is called a fight. Don’t kid yourselves into thinking you can both speak your mind at once. Allow for one person to share first, fully listening to them until they feel heard. Then switch, allowing the other person to share their point of view and feelings.
Third, seek solutions. It has been said that if there is a winner, there must be a loser. Seek solutions allow for both people to feel like winners. Be willing to make concessions. Give up ground, knowing that your mate will greatly appreciate your humility. Find a method of solving problems that works for you. End power struggles.
Fourth, once an issue is over, move on. Don’t keep bringing up old issues. After finding a solution that works for both of you, move forward. Notice your ability to settle an issue and move on to solving other problems. Scripture tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:7).
Finally, celebrate small victories. There is nothing quite as exciting as having some victories under your belt. Make note of how you bit your tongue when you wanted to give a comeback. Make concessions and note how it feels so much better to be in relationship than it is to be right.
If you are a couple with “issues like tissues,” consider making a pact of humility---you will give ground, make concessions, swallowing your pride in favor of having a relationship that brings joy and happiness to your home.
We are here to help and offer phone/ Skype counseling on issues related to this article. Please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and discover more information about this as well as the free downloadable eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams, including other free videos and articles. Please send responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.
Publication date: June 10, 2014