You Can’t Argue Your Way To a Better Relationship

Most of us only communicate what we expect from a relationship after we’ve been disappointed or let down. Many of us are unhappy in a marriage, discontent  in a dating relationship or dissatisfied with a friend, because the relationship isn’t what we thought it would be and isn’t what we expected it should be.

For years, Trish and I struggled with unmet expectations in our marriage. We’d talk about unmet expectations, but not proactively. We reacted to unmet expectations through conflict, arguing and guilt trips. We believed a lie that many others believe as well:  We can argue our way into met expectations.

We can guilt our spouse or friend into changing. We can yell or nag or complain enough that will cause them to meet our expectation the next time.

Here is the problem and why so many are stuck in a cycle of dysfunction: Arguments will never change someone’s heart.

An argument might change how your wife acts or how your husband behaves for a day or two, but arguing will never turn a person’s heart closer to another. Arguments bring short term relief but don’t solve any long term issue. When an expectation is shared during an argument, its too late to do any good.

Can we share a secret with you that we have learned the hard way? This applies to friendships, work relationships, to your relationship with your kids, your marriage…

Unspoken expectations will always grow into unmet expectations.

If you are unhappy in your marriage right now. If you wonder how you and your spouse could have drifted so far apart; if you are constantly frustrated that your needs, your desires, your expectations aren’t being met…ask yourself this question:

Have I communicated my expectations of this person outside the context of an argument or conflict? 

Are you making time to have a conversation about your expectations outside of the times you argue? Maybe its going out for breakfast. Maybe its staying up an extra hour to talk after the kids go to bed. Maybe its going out on a date or making an intentional phone call.

This conversation should probably start with, “I want you to know that I own half of this issue. Half of the disappointment I have is because I haven’t communicated well.” Then you have to state the expectation you’ve placed on that person, so you can be free of it and they can be aware of it.

When expectations are communicated in clearly, calmly and in a desire to grow the relationship and not just beat the other down…relationships flourish…friendships deepen; dating relationships grow; marriages become stronger.

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