Use this trick to make your discussions more effective.
Whether you realize it or not, in most relationships and marriages, there are two different kinds of communicators. More often than not, one of you is the pursuer and one of you is the distancer. Not knowing these things about yourself and your spouse can make it hard to have an effective conversation if the discussion is serious in nature – and it can make it even more difficult, maybe even impossible, to resolve a disagreement.
Before learning how to solve these issues, we must first learn what and who the pursuer and the distancer are:
PURSUER: The person who moves “inside the relationship” to solve a problem. When an issue or problem arises, this person typically wants to jump right in and have a conversation immediately with the other person. The pursuer wants to fix the problem “right here, right now”.
DISTANCER: The person who moves “outside the relationship” to solve a problem. This doesn’t mean the person is running off to have an affair because they can’t deal with their problems — it simply means the distancer is looking to find a way to process the issue in a way that’s comfortable to them, such as a hobby, exercising, talking to a trusted friend, etc. This person doesn’t want to solve the problem immediately like the pursuer does. They want to take time to “file their thoughts” and figure out a good solution.
NEITHER OF THESE PEOPLE ARE WRONG.
So, how do we solve this communication barrier in our relationships?
First, find out if you’re the pursuer or distancer. It’s not a difficult answer to find. Just think back on the last few disagreements or serious discussions you’ve had with your spouse. Did you want to solve it immediately, or did you prefer to take your time to “hash it out” in your head?
Do you find it infuriating when your husband or wife doesn’t want to sit down with you and work out the problem as soon as you realize there is one? Or do you get aggravated when your better half keeps pressing you for thoughts and solutions you just don’t have?
Sometimes, if people in a marriage or relationship are very similar, they can go back and forth on being the pursuer and distancer, depending on the situation, however it’s not extremely common. Again, it’s not difficult to find out if this description fits you.
After you’ve identified who’s who in the relationship, the easiest way to solve the issues and problems you face is to table the discussion. Yes, you read that right. PUT IT ON PAUSE. BUT, you must set a time to come back to the discussion to come to a resolution. This could be a couple hours, a couple days, or whatever time the two of you agree on. This assures the pursuer that there will be a resolution to the issue at hand, but it gives the distancer the time to sit down, think, and process the information and come back to the table ready with solutions.
Not convinced? Put this into practice with an issue you’re facing, or the next disagreement you have. See if both of you feel like you were able to have a more productive conversation with each other.