The Reason Why You Argue With Her - The Crucible Project
I love my wife of 28 years. I want to be a great husband. After almost three decades of marriage, I still find myself in an occasional argument with this person I want to spend the rest of my life with. But why?
For every situation in a relationship there are usually three truths. The three truths are always different from each other. There is “his truth,” “her truth,” and “the truth.”
“The truth” about the situation is simply what happened. It consists of the specifics. That includes everything observed through our five senses: what we see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Nothing else! The truth does not include what we thought or felt about the situation. It does not include how we interpreted the situation. It includes what might be observable through a camera and microphone, not the motives behind what is seen and heard. The truth consists solely of the data, and the data alone.
“His truth” and “her truth” are the stories that we each tell in our self talk. It is what we make up to make sense of “the truth”. My truth is the sound of my voice in my head telling me how I interpreted what just happened. It includes what I am feeling and thinking. It also includes my opinions about her motives, thoughts, and feelings. It is my truth because it is the story that I am telling yourself about that specific situation.
All arguments happen because there is a difference between his truth and her truth.
Why Arguments Happen
Early in my career, I taught several semesters of “Intro to Psychology” to college underclassmen. I enjoyed sharing the research behind how several people can view the same situation and report different details. In fact, there is a great amount of research today backing the idea that crime scene witnesses are not very good at identifying the perpetrator.
Researchers have been studying this for years. They’ve concluded that the reason people differ so much in interpretation is due to how our brains work. All sensory input such as taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing travels through sensory nerves to the spinal cord and into the brain stem. Between the frontal lobes (the thinking part of our brain) and our brain stem is a group of brain structures known as the limbic system. This is the feeling part of our brain.
The data that we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is felt first. As it travels through the feeling portion, our feeling memories are triggered… that’s why when we smell certain smells we automatically begin to feel great. An example of this is encountering the scent of our favorite dish cooked by our grandmother.
The sensory nerve of smell travels to the thinking part of our brain where we interpret what is sent from the feeling part of our brain. The thinking portion processes it with a number of high cognitive functions to judge and define what it is that we just experienced. What feels like just the facts, usually includes feelings and many judgments or opinions about what we just experienced.
As data travels from our senses, it is filtered by our feelings. By the time we think about it, the data is no longer just data… it is warped by our emotions. All arguments happen because there is a huge difference between his truth and her truth.
How To Reduce Arguments
Arguments disappear as we close the gap between his truth, her truth, and the truth.
- I need to be open to the idea that my truth is not the truth. My openness to the idea that the way I see it is not the only way to see it, allows me to have room to hear how someone else might see it.
- I need to help her tell her truth. As I provide an open stance to hear, without interruption, what her truth is about what has happened, I begin to close the gap on our truths. Listening with curiosity is a gift my wife always appreciates. Listening first gives me the best chance for her to be open to hearing my truth.
- I need to speak my truth with a compassionate tone. When I have the courage to share my thoughts, feelings and judgments, owning each of them, I experience more connection and less arguing. When I speak it with compassion for her, she can more readily receive it.
What Do You Have to Say?
- How are these pieces of the clearing process helpful for reducing arguments?
- What would you add to this article?
- If you try this approach, are you finding it as helpful for you as I have found it to me?
- What other approaches to reducing arguments have you tested?
– By Roy Wooten
Roy completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009 and has been the longtime leader of The Crucible Project community in Houston. Roy and his wife Devra have led over 135 of their Life Together Forever Couples Weekends and are the authors of The Secret to Lifetime Love: Speaking and Hearing Truth. He also authored Full Throttle Into Fatherhood and is the Executive Director of Shield Bearer Counseling Centers in Houston, Texas. Follow Roy at LifeTogetherForever.com.
Photo Credit: Featured in Roy’s book, “The Secret to Lifetime Love.” Illustrated by David Bamberg.