Talking Things to Death? - Page 2 - Talk About Marriage
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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2016, 10:32 AM
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Re: Talking Things to Death?

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Originally Posted by KiwiTeawi View Post

My husband loves music and we actually do own a relaxation CD that came with a spa gift years back, but he is a bit stubborn and won't listen to it or go to counseling of any kind. Whenever I suggested counseling for us, he just rolls his eyes about it and says marriage counseling is only for people on the brink of a divorce.
I'm sensing a theme here, but I could easily be wrong. You refer to him as stubborn and you have mentioned in several posts that you have suggested, requested, and so on.

When you evaluate the conversations you start with your husband, what proportion of them involve you making a request? If he perceives that the only reason you initiate conversation is to get him to do or say something, then there are actions you can take to improve his receptiveness. Consider initiating conversations that are only about you thanking him for who he is, his values, his contributions to the marriage.

Gottman talks about the ratio of positive to negative in conversation and claims that 5:1 is magic. If, in conversation, there are five times as many positive things compared to negative, then the marriage is a sure bet to survive long-haul.

Gottman calls this "Positive Sentiment Override". A couple can do fine, even with incredibly volatile arguments, as long as they comprise only 16% (one part argument to five parts positive) of the total conversation the couple has.

On the other end, how much negativity almost guarantees divorce? A ratio of 0.8 positive to negative. So, if you spend 10 hours talking and praising one another, and 12 hours dealing with "issues" (and to some people, being asked to comply with yet another request could be an issue), you're on the edge of not staying together.


I'm not saying you do this - certainly in a forum like this, you're going to focus your words on what's not working. But it may be worth some thought.

Gottman also give some pretty detailed suggestions on how to approach disagreements without them going wrong. He has a concise list of what to not do, which he calls "The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypes"...do a web search on his name and that phrase and you'll find them.

Make sure you understand what he interprets as negative. I'll give an example from my own marriage. My wife has an astonishingly high level of anxiety about money...we are approaching retirement and there's plenty of money, but she's got some deep-rooted fear that we've missed something, and so have all the financial advisors we've consulted who said "no worries."

I was not aware of this deep-rooted fear, all I saw was that she brought up spending a LOT, and there was fear in her face and somehow I was expected to do something about it. My mind even went to the exact phrase you used - this has been talked to death! No conversation leaves us in a different spot than we were before and she's clearly in pain when she brings it up, so why not just stop it? So, to me, it's negative, but to her, it's a genuine concern...she's not addressing it in any way, but somehow it brings her satisfaction to bring it up repeatedly using the same words every time with tears in her eyes. Now, I just try to sit back and listen and see if there's anything new...to me, it is still a negative, but knowing where it comes from, I'm a lot softer in my approach to it.

Good luck!


There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie
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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2016, 10:35 AM
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Re: Talking Things to Death?

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Whenever I suggested counseling for us, he just rolls his eyes about it and says marriage counseling is only for people on the brink of a divorce.
Forgot to mention...statistically, he's onto something.

But it's not because counseling leads to divorce. It's because so many couples don't go to counseling until it's too late.

You may consider a response. "Darling, I don't want to be on the brink of divorce, I want help before it's too late." If he responds better with more forceful words "Darling, if this doesn't get better, I think we are on the brink". Don't forget to make it plainly clear that you know you have something to do with it, and you hope an outsider will help both of you see your roles. Make it about "we", if possible.

There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie
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