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Black and Married with Kids: How to Agree to Disagree

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Angry African American Couple
Dr. Gary Chapman says that one thing that couples don’t do before they get married (that they should do) is make a plan for making decisions when they disagree. When they disagree, they end up arguing… which could lead to anger… which could lead to hurtful things being said. And once you go down that path, it is very hard to come to an agreement.

We have been married for 6 years now, and for the most part I am really pleased with how we handle our anger and disagreements. I definitely think we have grown since we were first married. But I am definitely a work in progress.

In the book, Anger, Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Positive Way, Dr. Gary Chapman, provides the following 6 tips/steps for handling Anger Agreements:

    1.    Acknowledge that you are angry. Anger is a perfectly natural emotion and when dealt with properly can lead to positive change. So there is no need to deny that you are angry and suppress it. After all, the first step to solving a problem is to first acknowledge that you have one.

    2.    Make an agreement that you will acknowledge that you are angry to each other. Ahh yes!!! Don’t walk around silently festering and plotting.  Don’t make your mate guess what’s wrong with you.  Agree that if you are angry, you will express how you are feeling with each other.

    3.    Don’t go off on each other. Seriously, do you really think that exploding on each other is going to make things better?  Don’t cuss each other out, don’t call names, don’t get physically violent with each other… none of these things will solve your problem… they will only make matters worse. I mean really, if you just cussed me out and called my mama a name, I probably will not want to hear anything else you have to say (even if you are right.)

    4.    Listen to each other before jumping to conclusions. Allow your spouse to explain before you go and make ASSumptions. Chances are your spouse will be able to provide you with a good explanation and additional details that could clear the matter up or shed some light on the situation.

    5.    Work on a solution together and compromise. Don’t just leave the situation unresolved. You now have all of the facts because you LISTENED to each other; you allowed your spouse to explain. Now work together to find a solution that works for the both of you (a compromise.)

    6.    Say I love you at the end. After you have come to a resolution, don’t end this process without confirming your love for each other. How about a hug (and I am not talking about one of those loose hugs and a pat on the back… I am talking about a real embrace).  Seal it with a kiss. And say I love you to confirm that no matter what... we are still partners, we are still lovers, and we are still friends.

I think those are excellent tips. But I am going to be honest; sometimes I can’t get over being angry immediately. Sometimes I get stuck on step 1. Or, oh Lawd… please don’t let step 3 happen!! If step 3 happens, you can best believe it is really hard for step 6 to occur. This is real talk because sometimes it is not as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to resolve things. Sometimes this process is iterative, and you have to agree to disagree until you solve the problem.

How do I get beyond the anger when we haven’t resolved things right away because maybe we can’t hear each other (step 4) and maybe we said some things that we shouldn’t have said (Step 3)? Well, I will say there is a seventh step needed for this list:

Step 7 – Let go of your pride. Let go of your ego. Sometimes you have to determine what’s more important. Is being right so important that you will walk around mad for days without talking to your spouse? Or, sometimes you know you’re wrong… but your pride will not let you apologize… let go of that pride.

Sometimes you have to think about the bigger picture and make a decision that no matter what you are disagreeing about, a healthy relationship with your spouse is more important. You have to put things into perspective and know that you will eventually come to and agreement on this topic… but until you do, you will continue to love and respect each other.

How do you deal with disagreements in your marriage? Can you add to this list? The book, Anger, Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way, by Dr. Gary Chapman has really blessed us.

Follow Ronnie and Lamar on Twitter @BlackandMarried or visit their popular blog Black and Married with Kids.
Filed Under: Making It Work
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