I know you never argue, but somehow A (Alexandra) and I seemed to stumble upon disagreements frequently enough to have had to call a “family sit down meeting” (more than once) to talk about how we each want to be treated whenever disagreements arise.

It’s funny… I figured people who had a good marriage either had it or they didn’t.

Like some marriages were just destined for success & bliss and the rest of us had to sift through what was left, hoping to find a relationship that is golden.

Truth is, that ain’t real. At least not in the world I live in.

We’ve argued.

And bickered.

And then argued & bickered some more.

A and I haven’t always done arguments right. In fact we’re still figuring it out. Because each of us can be super focused on getting our point across instead of understanding the other side. Although, she’d probably say it’s just me who doesn’t understand ; )

But in all honesty it isn’t those who are lucky that persevere through disagreements. It’s not about having a magical way with your words… and it’s definitely not about who can manipulate the best.

It’s about having respect for one another. Like legit respect. Like the kind of respect you carry for someone in your life that you would’t dare let see your “bad side”. That’s the type of respect you must strive to show to your love.

I’ll get real. I’m not perfect at showing respect for my wife. But I’m making progress. I’m learning from past mistakes. And most importantly I’m seeking to understand how my beautiful woman is wired.

Here’s the deal: we cannot get so comfortable that we stop showing respect. You and your love are a team. You’re both on the same side. You cannot be opposing one another and expecting peace to reign in the relationship. Respect must be given by the both of you if you want to navigate through uncomfortable arguments.

Disagreements don’t have to be ugly.

Challenging–yes! Ugly? Nah. When you choose (yes it’s a choice not a freaking feeling) to show respect, boundaries naturally develop that will strengthen your relationship. So let’s jump right into this.

7 Practical Boundaries Every Loving Relationship Should Implement In Uncomfortable Conversations

Boundary #1: Don’t break the trust of the one you love the most.

Wow. Trust. Huge. I’d say that I’m not sure how A and I developed the level of trust we have, but I think I’ve figured it out. It’s been the culmination of little conversations over 5 years that have brought us to this very strong level of trust we have in each other. It was the moment we stood in front of a mirror when she had a tough time accepting the way her body looked, and I told her how beautiful she was as tears rolled down her face. And the first time I broke down into tears in front of her as an important relationship in my life fell apart. It’s the small looks we give each other from across the room as we both mouth, “I love you”, because we know there’s no one else either of us want to share that bond with. Trust is cornerstone. And you have to make an ethical, personal, individual choice to honor that trust when no one is watching.

Boundary #2: Agree not to call each other hurtful names.

Children who have no ability to reason do this, and adults who refuse to act like adults do this too. I’m sorry, but I cannot settle with behaving like an adolescent in order to get my point across. If it’s more important for you to dump a big stinky pile of poo on your relationship, then go ahead and throw down names that will get invoke a negative reaction out of the person you love most. If you love this person, then take time to understand how to communicate effectively, without smashing them with your words.

Boundary #3: Choose to not be critical of actions and focus on intentions.

Honestly, this is a tough one for me. It’s challenging for me to look at the intention behind what A did, but its essential to live by this principle. It’s tough because you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and you gotta put down all your defense mechanisms you’re using to protect yourself. Looking at your love’s intentions is the best way to bring understanding and clarity to why they said, did or acted in that certain way. Understanding their intention doesn’t make what they did okay, but you’ll be able to quickly navigate to a solution by seeing the intent VS only focusing on the action.

Boundary #4: Agree to both stay seated during uncomfortable conversations.

Sounds silly, but this is super true. It’s really easy to get heated, stand up, walk 5 feet, whip around like you’re doing the nae nae, and rise above your spouse to prove your point. Don’t do this. Look, if you need to walk away. That’s fine. You’re allowed to. But you gotta calmly say something like, “I’m sorry, I needta walk away and come back to this when I calm down.” Agree before you disagree that you’ll both show respect by staying seated.

Boundary #5: Agree to bring things up at a good time.

Timing is everything, especially when you’re dealing with something super uncomfortable. I’ve made some huge mistakes by bringing up big discussions when we had a small amount of time to cover it all. Look, if you know your girl is tired, stressed, just got home from work or is already under a lot of pressure, that’s probably not a good time to bring up a heavy issue. She’s tired bro. Let her chill. There is a good time to discuss, and it’s each of your responsibilities to discern when that time is. There may never be a “right” time, but there’s always a good time to open up.

Boundary #6: Decide how you’re allowed to speak to each other.

If you think about it… all relationships are just words. Words that we exchange between one another, and the more we interact with those words, the deeper in love we fall. The words you both agree to use towards one another are vital. Over the years A and I have been together, I’ve totally learned how to not talk to her. I know her limits. I know where those lines are at that I need to not cross. Every relationship is different, and its up to the two of you to create a safe environment to speak to each other in.

Boundary #7: Agree to expose how you’re really feeling instead of only showing anger.

Anger is the emotion that we show whenever we’re feeling something deeper. We don’t actually feel anger, we show anger. We feel sad, disappointed, rejected, isolated, misunderstood… and anger is what we choose to show in order to protect ourselves from being exposed to what we’re really feeling. We think that exposing those things will make us weak, but it actually makes you vulnerable and real. That’ll create respect in your relationship, not riffs. Allow yourself the chance to be real and reveal how you feel, so that anger doesn’t take control of your relationship and ruin it.

Which of these 7 boundaries would bring a greater sense of respect to your relationship? Have you found certain ways to navigate through uncomfortable conversations that have worked really well for you? Comment below and share your insight.

With My Best

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