35. Munira Ezzeldine: "Delightful Disputes"

Posted on May 24th, 2012

On May 16th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was fortunate to have Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, marriage and family counselor and author of “Before the Wedding: 150 Questions for Muslims to Ask Before Getting Married” who gave a talk titled “Delightful Disputes,” where we learned how to turn our annoying arguments into constructive conversations and ways to resolve conflicts and effectively communicate with our spouses. Here are some useful highlights.

Munira said that in order to achieve conflict resolution a person must first:
  • Begin with basic acceptance of their partner’s personality.
  • Accept that there is no absolute reality in marital conflict, only two subjective realities.
  • Have respect for your spouse and be open to his/her point of view.
  • Not let things bottle up.
She outlined Five Steps to Conflict Resolution using the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by Dr. John Gottman.

They are:
1. Soften your approach:
- Make statements that start with “I” instead of “You:”
  “You are not listening to me” vs. “I would like it if you listened to me”
  “You don’t care about me” vs. “I feel neglected”
- Describe what is happening, don’t evaluate or judge:
  “You never help me with the baby” vs. “I feel like I am the only one running around after the baby"
- Be clear about what you want and be polite:
  “Would you give the baby a bath for once” vs. “Please give the baby a bath today"
- Be appreciative:
  “I really appreciate that you rescheduled your meeting to come home early so we can spend time together”

2. Make and receive 'Repair Attempts:'
- Putting on brakes is an important skill because it de-escalates an argument.
- Happy couples send and receive repair attempts with ease.
- Relationships engulfed in negativity have difficulty “hearing” repair attempts.
- Make the attempts obviously formal to emphasize them.
- Repair attempts are what will pull a couple out of the downward negative spiral.
- Accept the attempt in the spirit it was intended.
- Accept your spouse's influence.

Here are some examples of Repair Attempt phrases that you can use during disagreements:

3. Calm down:
- Let you spouse know you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Call a time-out and take a break.
- Re-schedule for when you will resume the discussion.
- Do what it takes to calm yourself down (pray, sleep, do a chore, etc).
- Give each other space to calm down.

4. Compromise:
- Negotiation can only happen once steps 1 – 3 have occurred.
- Compromise can only work when you open your mind to your spouse’s opinions and desires.
- You don’t have to agree to everything; but you have to be open to considering his position.
- Ask your spouse questions to help see his point of view.
- Search for the parts of your spouse’s perspective that are reasonable.
- Compromise is just talking out your differences and preferences and coming to a common ground that accommodates both.
- Ask yourselves these questions when trying to reach a compromise:
  • What do we agree about?
  • What are the most important feelings here?
  • What common goals do we have?
  • How can we understand this issue?
  • How do we think these goals should be accomplished?
5. Be tolerant:
- “If only” thoughts and attitudes about your spouse will make conflicts very difficult to solve.
- Accept your spouse’s flaws & faults – unconditional love.
- Recognize that you cannot change your spouse.
- Recognize that you are two imperfect beings trying to make a life together.



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