How to Stop Your Big But From Squashing Your Partner

One of the issues Marian and I deal with from time-to-time is our big buts. No matter what we do to disguise them, our big buts have caused some problems. I mean, there have been times my big but has squashed my wife! Not good. She’s done the same thing to me too! It’s gets so bad, we find ourselves looking in the mirror to see what we can do to shrink them. Does your big but squash your partner? Here are a few big but squashing maneuvers I see in couple relationships.
  • I hear what you’re saying, but…
  • You have a point but…
  • That might be true but…
  • Yeah, but…
  • I agree with you, but…
Did you know your big but can squash your partner? I see it all the time in my counseling/coaching profession. Sometimes I see it in the look in Marian’s eyes. I realize I just squashed her. Do you recognize it in your spouse? It is the look of disappointment or hurt that squashes your partner after she/he says something important that you negate with your big but. The good news is you can shrink your big but! No joke. You can gain control over how you respond to your mate.  Check out these 5 exercises you can do to stop your big but from squashing your partner.
Slow down your brain
Very often in a conversation with a spouse, we have a tendency to assume. Assumptions can lead you down a wrong path. I don’t care how well you think you know your mate, listening through a filter of assumptions will get you into trouble almost every time. I recommend you slow your brain down and simply focus on your partner. You can do this by taking a few deep breaths. This will lower stress and defensive mechanisms. Next, quietly remind yourself to be patient and give consideration to your spouse’s right to be heard. Look her/him in the eye as a show of respect. This act in and of itself will disarm any tension that may be present.
Activate your ears
Ears that understand are important in a quality conversation.  You have to activate them to listen. I don’t mean hear. I mean listen. Hearing is sound. Listening is concentrating with the intent to understand. Activate your ears with a question. “What is my spouse/partner trying to say to me?” Pay attention to thoughts and feelings. This is the subjective experience or view your spouse brings to you. This is important stuff! [Tweet “Ears that understand are important in a quality conversation. You have to activate them to listen.”]
Open your mind
Remember what I said earlier about assuming? Opening your mind keeps assumptions from leading you down a wrong path. So often I observe couples heading down a rabbit trail because a spouse used a filter of assumption to listen. This can derail conversation rather quickly. I suggest you open your mind to consider what your mate is saying from his/her perspective. You do this by reflecting on the thoughts and feelings shared. Listen closely and think with an open mind.
Measure your words
This is when you finally respond to your partner. You do not want to expose your big but! Trust me, it will squash her/him. Instead, you want to measure your words with a technique in communication called “validation”. You can learn more about validation in my previous blog. Validation is an “extended play” of conveying understanding to your mate. When I was a kid, songs had two versions. One was “short play”, the other, an “extended play” was longer. I recommend an extended play when you validate your spouse. Let me illustrate the difference between “short play” and “long play”. Short play “I understand you are angry at me for staying out too late but I’m an adult and can take care of myself. Extended play – “I understand you are angry at me for staying out too late. I also hear you saying that you were worried something happened. You would have preferred that I called to let you know I was staying out longer. I get that.” Notice that the extended play validated her feelings and concerns. The big but did not squash her. She felt validated.
Share your perspective
After you slow things down, listen well, open your mind, and validate, then you are ready to share your perspective. The big but is successfully shrunk. You can now share where you are coming from on the matter. To illustrate, let’s look again at the previous illustration. Validation – “I understand you are angry at me for staying out too late. I also hear you saying that you were worried something happened. You would have preferred that I called to let you know I was staying out longer. I get that.” Perspective – “I want you to know that I had a great time and did not act foolishly. The truth is I wasn’t paying attention to the clock and didn’t think about calling. My mistake. Next time, I’ll give you a heads up if I plan to stay out longer, so you don’t have to worry. I don’t want you to have to feel anxious or be out of the loop.” Validating the other person’s feelings and clarifying what happened avoids the squash of a big but.

Now it’s your turn

Does your big but get in the way? What do you think you need to work on to keep your partner from being squashed? Feel free to leave your comments below or post them on my social media sites. [mk_social_networks size=”large” style=”rounded” margin=”4″ icon_color=”#dd3333″ align=”left” facebook=”” twitter=”” pinterest=”” google_plus=”” linkedin=””]