Today, we add our Catholic faith to this podcast. Much will still stay the same, including our love of finances, but we’d like to add this part of our lives in order to be more authentic in our conversations and topics. Enjoy!
Everyone loves credit card points and perks, except a select few smart and savvy individuals, and that would be us! Haha, I’m just playing, but, points are widely loved and used, so we need to talk about some of the pitfalls of points and perks.
Wow, one year of marital bliss! And why not say bliss? Everywhere else people seem to only talk about the downsides of marriage. Nope, not here. I’m happy with my wife and hope for many more years to come! Also, a famous hairy red-head gets married!
Megan rides solo on this episode, and I love her for it! She talks about food being her love language, and about motherhood, which is appropriate for this Mother’s Day weekend!
Megan and I were just fighting. It wasn’t a bad fight, we just couldn’t decide on how many plates, cups, and bowls to get rid of (we’re still in the midst of cleaning up our apartment using Marie Kondo’s method of tidying up). And this fight comes the day after we saw marriage experts Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott for their “Fight Night” talk, where they teach couples how to have a good fight.
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott did a great job using light-hearted stories to explain their simple, but profound message. The main message was to pay more attention to how we fight, why we fight, and then gave tips to fight better. This may seem like a boring topic and not needed for all couples, but I think otherwise.
“Good conflict leads to a deeper level of intimacy” – Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
So why do we fight?
- Perception – In the plates, cups, and bowls disagreement, I realized maybe I didn’t fully understand Megan’s perception, and maybe she didn’t understand mine. It can be really frustrating when you can’t understand why someone isn’t on the same page as you. She kept saying she wanted a complete set of dishes for when we entertain a group of people. My point was, “I’m so tired of keeping so many dishes we don’t use, and even when we have people over, we don’t use them most the time anyway!” (actually, I do think I can remember her pulling them out when we’ve had past guests over, so it’s good that we kept them in the end). Some of them are just so bulky and take up so much room. And honestly, the plates don’t even bring me joy, they’re kind of bland. I’d much rather get a set of new plates that are thinner, and more appealing. Maybe we could instead get a set that we both like, could be used daily, and for nice sit-down dinners? Geez, those were a lot of thoughts just for plates, and this argument was happening while we were trying to clean our entire kitchen! I just wanted to move on, but my impatience didn’t allow me to have much time to fully understand Megan’s perspective. It just seemed like a dumb fight I wanted to quickly move past.
In sum, not perceiving the other person’s message or point of view can lead to fights.
- Gender Differences – I already knew I should avoid trying to solve Meg’s problems at the end of each day. Rather, I should just listen. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott say men like to solve problems and I can agree with this. I want to get to the solution so I can move on to the next item on my checklist. I’ve got a lot to do, and I don’t have time to explore every angle, especially when doing so is not necessary to solve the problem. It’s not being insensitive, it’s just how men approach problems in their brain. However, women are wired to explore the many angles to a problem. Women desire to feel heard and validated. When I validate Megan’s problems by taking the time to hear them out, she receives the energy she needs to attack the issues. Being a guy, I want to solve, minimize and move on. That’s the complete opposite of what she needs. And what something that is interesting – when women (using their natural inclinations) try to explore the man’s problem, “So how did you feel about it?”, it’s actually drawing-out and blowing-up the problem for the man, which isn’t necessarily what a man needs or wants. I never thought of it that way! As an interesting side note, they said in about 10% of couples, these gender roles are actually switched.
- Personality Differences – This is a little too complicated to go in to, so I’ll give a quick overview. How expressive a person is (how vocal they are, how they show emotion, etc), and how flexible a person is determines what type of “fighter” they are. It’s best look to their book (“The Good Fight”) for more detailed information on this concept. This topic will definitely help you understand yourself better.
They referenced a study I’ve also read about. John Gottman of the Gottman Institute believes he can predict with an over 90% success rate whether a couple would be successful or not in their relationship. He bases his prediction on how well or poorly the couple interacts in regard to the following four behaviors:
- Criticism – it manifests when sentences start with “you” rather than “I”.
- Defensiveness – this behavior quickly escalates fights
- Contempt – is expressed by rolling your eyes and acting in way that make the other feel small
- Stonewalling – giving up and becoming ambivalent (guys tend to get here faster than girls)
So how do we fight better? Following the below tips will help!
The CORE of a good fight has these four characteristics:
- Cooperation – fight for a win/win
- Ownership – own your share of the pie
- Respect – the opposite of contempt and is VERY important
- Empathy – so many problems can be solved if you allow yourself to see the other’s perspective
When you’re fighting, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott know you’re not going to be able to remember those “CORE” four characteristics, so just remember one that you may be good at and try it out in the midst of a disagreement. Usually, the other three will naturally follow.
I think my strength is empathy, but if I would have cooperated better with Meg during our “plate fight”, maybe I would have realized sooner that we should buy a new set of plates that we can pick out together and both really like. Then it’s a win/win!
Another tip is to use one of their Conflict Cards. This idea is cool. It’s a card with the numbers 1-10. When you’re in an argument, you use the card to communicate to your partner just how severe your current problem is. A “1” isn’t a big deal. A “10” is a HUGE deal to you. So if the issue is a “3” for one partner and an “8” for the other one, the couple gains insight and can arrive at an outcome much quicker.
And lastly is the BIG ONE! They said if we only learn one action from tonight, it would be to practice sharing what you withhold. What does this mean? Once a week or every other week, sit down for 10 minutes and each share two positive things you realized you haven’t said to each other and one negative thing you’ve withheld (Share the positive first, then the negative, then the second positive). Afterward, simply go back to life and don’t talk about what your shared for at least a half hour. Then, if you think you need to address the negative in more detail, you can come back together to discuss deeper.
Megan and I haven’t done this yet (since the event was last night), but we did each share a positive withhold. I told Megan, “I always appreciate that you smile so deeply when I return home from work”. I had never told her that until that moment, even though I think it almost every day. And she said, “I was really thankful when you started planning out next month and our budget ahead of time”. It felt really good to hear her say that.
The most important part of the withholding exercise – you’re only allowed to respond “thank you” after your partner shares their withhold.
Megan and I are definitely going to make this a consistent practice in our marriage. Can’t wait!
And good luck on you fights – may they be good!
Geez, it wasn’t the hardest thing in the world to do, but Meg and I want to keep different things. We just went through our kitchen stuff, trying to determine which items bring us joy…and I’ll admit, it was a struggle. I guess I’m the one that started all of this since I listened to Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
We have yet to clean everything up, but Megan did a good job letting go of a lot of unnecessary items. The thing we argued about most was how many plates, bowls, and glasses to keep since she wants large, full sets for when we entertain people. Maybe I’m more practical, since I kept pointing out we haven’t really used most of the stuff while entertaining. But maybe we did and I’m wrong.
I’m really proud of her, though. She agreed to get rid of a lot of stuff with me. The fondue set is going back to where it came from, Goodwill. P.S., we started with over 110 glasses; I think we still have 50-60…sigh.
Check out The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on Amazon!
Marie Kondo’s book is one that can change your life. I wouldn’t say it’s as profound as Dave Ramsey’s, Total Money Makeover, but damn, there is some great stuff there. The main idea is we all have too much stuff we don’t use, so we feel overwhelmed and are unable to find and use those items which do actually bring us joy. When we get rid of all the junk, we can also better appreciate and care for the things we truly love. Everything has its place to exist, and to rest. Our lives just work better when we exist in an environment that is easy, manageable, joyful, and clutter-free.
And yes, it’s hard to get rid of stuff, but just like Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, start with disposing of the easy stuff (building the muscle of what brings you joy and what doesn’t), and then finish with the hard stuff (still have that love letter from your fifth grade girlfriend?).
So I highly recommend this book. It has very good reviews and it’s such a fun read. Also, maybe we can apply these methods to relationships too? Maybe even apply it to family, social relationships, money habits, spiritual behaviors, and more?
Megan and I wanted to see if we could start by cleaning up our relationship using these principles. So, instead of dumping all your clothes into a pile on the floor to sort though, we made a list of behaviors and actions we do in our relationship. For example, we read together each night before bed. Our list had about 50 things (this was our pile).
Then, without any distractions (no TV, no music, etc.), we went through each of them and talked about whether or not it brought us joy. And below is what we found:
- Most of the items did bring us joy, that’s why they were already in our lives. Granted, we plan a lot already and try to be intentional about our lives, so this didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was that some things we theoretically liked, but weren’t doing since we realized we we’re approaching them the wrong way. For example, we like exercising each night, but realized sometimes it was un-enjoyable because we didn’t have a plan. So we’ve created a weekly schedule, and have been using that. Sweet!
- Also, we learned that opposites may exist. We acknowledge we enjoy eating dinner with TV, and without TV. So, going forward, we’ll schedule both.
- A nice benefit was that we can let some things go and stop feeling bad that we’re not doing them. For example, we always beat ourselves up for not wanting to go out and dance. Well, after this exercise, we realized we just don’t want to go to a club at 11 pm at night to dance Salsa. We’d rather go pay for a lesson and just go slow in a calm environment.
- Lastly, we’re slowly building the muscle that will allow us to better think through the behaviors and actions we choose to let into our relationship. All of the things we do in our relationship take time and if we’re letting in a bunch of clutter, we’ll feel over-stressed and get upset that we’re not doing what really brings us joy.
Create your own list. It really only took us an hour or two. And check out Marie Kondo’s book. She also has great videos online that show how to properly fold clothes (this was a big change for us, I love her way!). This is “spring cleaning” for your relationship. May your life and relationship be tidy!
Related Podcast Episodes:
Chip and Joanna Gaines conduct many businesses, so outsiders can be quick to say they must not have time for family. Starting up little side businesses ourselves, and also wanting a strong family in the future, how do we do both?
We really don’t fight much, but those dumb little arguments good be fought better. “Conflict is the price we pay for a deeper level of intimacy”, Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott. These two wrote a book called “The Good Fight”, which we’ll talk about today.
There is a lot to tidying up your life. And we think doing a little Spring cleaning for our relationship may be good, too!
Cleaning out the clutter of marriage, family, spirituality, finances, health, and community could take more mental work, but it may be WELL worth it!