Friends- this is Kathi – I’m thrilled to have Fawn Weaver NYT best seller and president for the Happy wives club. You all know that I saw fawn at her TEDx talk about the argument free marriage- and I begged her to come here on the blog and share her secrets. You’re going to love her…
Titling an article, “The #1 Secret to Ending Arguments in Marriage” takes a whole lot of guts. Especially, when the person writing it is not a family therapist, marriage counselor, and has no “D” behind her name (PhD, MD, etc.). But I do have something I hope will, at the very least, cause you to want to read to the bottom of this page.
I have an amazing marriage.
I have loved every moment of being married since 2003.
The sound of my husband’s voice still gives me butterflies and the happy dance I began doing the day I fell in love with him continues on to this day.
Here’s the thing. And it’s going to sound crazy, I know.
My husband and I have never argued. Never. And before you begin to think that one of us is a doormat, or sweep things under the rug, let me assure you neither of us is wired that way. We’re both incredibly strong willed individuals with great conviction about what we believe.
There is, however, one thing we have consistently done to communicate better with one another from day one: we stick to the original emotion. In my recently released book, The Argument-Free Marriage, this has -by far- been the number one thing readers have asked me about so I like to share this story.
Several years ago, I came home for lunch in the middle of my work day and did something I’d never done before. I sat on the couch and turned on the television.
I am a believer that all things happen for a reason.
My usual departure from running around the kitchen, stuffing something into my mouth and then heading back to work was –I believe- so I could share this with you.
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On my television screen that day sat Rosie O’Donnell on the couch that made Oprah the “queen of talk.” Attempting to make reparations to her image, Rosie talked about the huge fight between her and iconic journalist Barbara Walters, which resulted in O’Donnell leaving the Emmy-award-winning show The View.
Oprah asked, “Do you regret that moment?”
“Yes, I do,” O’Donnell responded. She said she regretted using her words as weapons and how her out-of-control rage “scared” Walters.
What O’Donnell said next confounded even the talk-show host herself: “For me, at that moment, if I had been braver, I would have just cried and said, ‘You really hurt my feelings.’”
Clearly dumbfounded, Oprah clapped her hands as if having one of her famous aha moments and said, “That is so interesting! That you would say, ‘If I had been braver, I would have just cried.’ Because oftentimes crying is perceived as the weak thing to do.”
She then asked O’Donnell why crying would have been braver than yelling and saying hurtful words.
“Because then you’re vulnerable. Then the authentic feeling that I had, [which] was pain and hurt and rejection [would have come out].” Instead, as she told Oprah, she put on the same armor she’d chosen to protect her since she was a child. She shielded her vulnerability, and masked her hurt feelings, with anger.
Consider the last time you were in an argument with your spouse. Hold that thought there for a brief moment, but don’t allow yourself to become angry all over again. Now that you have the thought in your mind, let’s talk about it.
What was the exact thing that set you off? I’m talking about what you felt, not what you discussed. What was your original emotion in that moment? Was it hurt? Fear? Sadness? Disappointment? Insecurity? What portion of your underbelly was exposed?
When we become angry enough to begin arguing, especially with someone we love as much as our spouse, we have allowed the original emotion—which would expose our vulnerability—to be covered up by a more aggressive, defensive response.
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Rather than exposing the softer side of ourselves, we put up a shield and pull out our verbal sword and begin swinging. We swing left, we swing right, aimlessly out of control and missing the target every time. Yes, we may slice and dice the heart of our spouse, but we miss the mark because we’ve not dealt with the true emotion we’re feeling.
My husband, Keith, and I talk about everything. And I mean everything. We don’t suppress or repress our feelings and we never say things under our breath. We don’t sweep anything under the rug. If he does something I don’t like, I let him know it. When I do something he’s not very fond of, you better believe he lets me know. From an early age, I’ve always been a bit of a fire piston. And Keith is the strongest man I know.
And yet, we’ve never argued. How is that even possible?
Most of us are taught from an early age that arguing is normal. Getting mad is how couples communicate when upset. We are shown how to guard our true feelings and emotions by protecting our hearts. We learn that it’s better to go on the offensive than to find ourselves exposed. The problem with all this in marriage is that learned behavior leads to blind conversations. You’re never really fighting about what it is you think you are fighting about.
Sticking with the original emotion—remaining in a place of vulnerability—is the crux of bypassing arguments and getting to the heart of a matter. Mutual vulnerability and respect allows you both to lay it all out on the table. Your dreams, hopes, ambitions, fears, hurt … nothing is off-limits.
We can’t keep everything bottled inside. We all need to have that one person we can be completely honest with about our perceived failures, hurts, successes, and hopes. We need to have at least one person who will love and respect us unconditionally. Who better than the one who shares your bed at night to share your deepest desires also?
As Rosie O’Donnell reminded us all through her uncontrolled rage that fateful day in Barbara Walters’ dressing room: there is great wisdom in sticking with the original emotion, if we would just be brave enough to be vulnerable.
Fawn Weaver is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, businesswoman, marriage advocate, regular contributor for the Huffington Post and BRIDES.com, a TED Talk alum, and founder of the Happy Wives Club. Her blog of the same name—spontaneously launched while she was simultaneously working as a hotel general manager—has garnered international media recognition and has been featured on media outlets, such as, The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, ABC, NBC, BBC, Fox News, SELF Magazine, Huffington Post, ESSENCE Magazine and Popsugar, to name a few. She’s been hosted on more than 35 television and radio programs in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Canada, UK, Poland and Ireland. Her blog, HappyWivesClub.com, has attracted more than 10 million visitors, is followed by nearly 1 million people on social media and was twice named the Best Marriage site by the readers of About.com.
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She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.