How To Deal With Unequal Footing At Home

Frustrated by the division of labor at home? Don't get mad, get
talking.

Anger can be lessened when couples communicate their
expectations and offer ideas on how they can accomplish them, said
marriage counselor Thomas Haller.

Drop the yelling and arguing, said psychologist Willard Harley.
Leave the room, think happy thoughts, pray or find some other way
to release anger before starting a discussion.

"Get the adrenaline out of your system," he said. "When you
deal with (an issue) without adrenaline in your system, you're more
likely to solve the problem."

Haller, Harley and Cari L. Sans, director of Counseling Corner
for Marriage and Family Therapy in New York, offered the following
list of tips:
- Choose the timing of discussions carefully. Make sure the
children won't be interrupting and that both partners are able to
focus on the conversation.
- Commit to considering your partner's feelings before making
decisions.
- Identify what's at issue. For instance, what happened before
the coffee pot broke and you lost your cool? Perhaps there were a
couple of events leading up to the "straw that broke the camel's
back."
- Manage your expectations. Think about what you want to achieve
in the upcoming confrontation and be realistic about how it may be
received from your partner. Also, consider outcomes that may be
acceptable to you.
- Use "I" statements to express your feelings and your needs.
This approach allows you to take responsibility for your feelings.
Say things like: "I noticed that you've been on the golf course
four times this week." "I feel like I'm alone in this process."
"I expect you to get off the couch and help me."
- Don't assign blame. Blaming your partner will put him or her
on the defensive.
- Choose to be a listener. If you decide to air your grievances
be prepared to hear your partner's opinions and feelings.
Acknowledge your partner's message by saying something like, "I
hear that you feel ----," or "I heard you say -------."
- Validate one another's points of views. Remember that
validating is not agreeing. Each partner's points of view are valid
even if you don't agree.
- Create a compromise about the issue. Both partners have to be
willing to give up something so that the relationship wins. You can
do this by making a fair request to your partner, inviting him or
her to make other suggestions and working until you both feel
satisfied.
- Check in with one another about the solutions. Is it working?
If not, then discuss further and create another compromise.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed in the relationship, it may be
helpful to try couples counseling. Visit www.aamft.org and use its
search engine, www.therapistlocator.net to find a licensed
counselor.


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