Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Best Defense Isn't Usually Helpful in Marriage

If you follow sports at all you know that sometimes great defense wins games. Stopping the other person from scoring points or goals is often what helps the offense the most.

But in marriage defensive responding is rarely helpful. Playing defense usually means several things happen often in a marriage: one or both spouses rarely think they are wrong, neither are willing to look at their own issues and most conflict ends in stalemates, hurt and anger.

And yet many couples go to defensiveness immediately when they feel threatened or there is a chance they are wrong. Rather than explore how they might have hurt or let the other person down, they frantically hope to make their case for themselves.

For some this reaction came from their childhood where they were often told they were wrong or could never measure up. For others they're just competitive and always want to win.  Whatever the cause, playing defense has to go in a marriage. That doesn't mean that there is never a place for explaining yourself or getting the facts straight.

But let's walk through the process that a defensive spouse often faces and find a better way.

First, they hear something that potentially makes them look bad, have to admit an error or lack of judgment. That usually causes anger, panic or despair to well up within so they must do something to fight back.

Second, they begin to explain away their action, hoping to convince the other person that they aren't so bad or didn't do anything wrong.

Third, the other person continues to make their point. The arguing continues and both now try to win the battle.  They're playing defense and as a reult become offensive.  This never works.

The answer?  Don't explain, explore. Be willing to ask the other person how what you did made them feel and what you could have done differently. This isn't an admission of guilt. It's an acceptance of your own mistake and an understanding that your worth is not on the the line (See other posts I've written on this.).

Play more appropriate offense where you work at trying to understand and restore the relationship.

You see a great defense never wins the marriage game.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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