Harsh Start Ups vs Soft Start Ups in Conversations

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Research shows that discussions invariably end on the same note they begin. If you start an argument harshly by attacking your partner, you will end up with at least as much tension as you began with, if not more.

Approach conflict gently by using these “soft startup” techniques from the Gottman Institute.


For more help on your conversations and your relationships, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.


Three Questions to Filter Your Words With

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Three Questions to Filter Your Words With

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

A filter is any device that removes unwanted material. For example, an oil filter for a car lets the good oil pass through while blocking the crud and removing impurities. The muck and guck are detrimental to the engine and undermine the effectiveness of the motor.

Some of us need a filter on our speech when we communicate. When we lack a filter we undermine our effectiveness in communicating with people, whether those are family and friends, coworkers and neighbors, or acquaintances and strangers.

What is this filter? It consists of asking three questions before communicating in person, over the phone, or in writing.

  – Is that which I’m about to say true?

  – Is it kind?

  – Is it necessary?

When we do not ask these three questions, we oftentimes end up saying something that is untrue, unkind, or unnecessary. This is comparable to letting the muck and guck pass with no filter.

In the Bible we learn that we are to speak the truth in love, and there is a time to speak and a time not to speak. Speaking necessary truth in a kind way is basic to all communication between people.

We also have an eternal motive to filter our words. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” Our useless and empty comments do not slip by the heart of our heavenly Father.

Communication consists of informing, affecting, or persuading. By that I mean, we inform the mind, which we might call the FYI. We affect the emotions, or affect the affections. This is the heart-to-heart sharing. And the final reason to communicate is to persuade the will, which we might refer to as the sale’s pitch or action item. In other words, we are trying to influence the other to do something.

Let me give some examples of people who did not filter their statements. I want you to see what they did right but also where they erred.

(For the rest of the helpful article, go ahead and click over to the original page.)

If you would like help with your filter or how to deal with other people and their lack of a filter, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Having Difficult Conversations in Marriage

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Start conversatinos

“Start difficult conversations gently and kindly.” (The Gottman Institute)

There are going to be times in a marriage where conversations that are difficult will arise. The topic may be emotionally difficult. The situation may be difficult. An attitude being addressed may be difficult. A behavior may be difficult. An anticipated response may be difficult.

There may be one or many things that may result in difficulty in a conversation, but avoiding a conversation because it may be difficult (or has been difficult in the past) will not make the difficulty go away nor the issue go away. Avoidance of issues does not make the issues go away; rather the issues tend to fester and eat away at the health of a marriage relationship.

One tip in starting to address issues that may be difficult is to do so gently and kindly.  How we choose to conduct ourselves – especially from the onset of a conversation – can go a long way in helping difficult conversations move two people towards each other and a healthier marriage as an end result.


If you would like help in your marriage or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

A Way to Have Conversations That Will Lead to Deeper Relationships

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Close-up of a young couple in love

A Way to Have Conversations That Will Lead to Deeper Relationships

By Glennon Doyle Melton

When I was a mama of three very tiny, very messy, very beautiful rug rats, we had DAYS THAT WENT ON FOR LIFETIMES.

Craig left at 6:00 am every morning and as I watched his showered, ironed self leave the house I felt incredibly blessed and thrilled to have so much time alone with my babies and incredibly terrified and bitter to have so much time alone with my babies.

If you don’t believe that all of those feelings can exist at once—well, you’ve never been a parent to many tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats.

When Craig returned each day at 6:00 pm (he actually returned at 5:50 but took a STUNNINGLY LONG TIME TO GET THE MAIL) he’d walk through the door, smile, and say—

“So! How was your day?”

This question was like a spotlight pointed directly at the chasm between his experience of a “DAY” and my experience of a “DAY.” How was my day?

The question would linger in the air for a moment while I stared at Craig and the baby shoved her hand in my mouth like they do—while the oldest screamed MOMMY I NEED HELP POOING from the bathroom and the middle one cried in the corner because I NEVER EVER EVER let her drink the dishwasher detergent. NOT EVER EVEN ONCE, MOMMY!!!

And I’d look down at my spaghetti stained pajama top, unwashed hair, and gorgeous baby on my hip—and my eyes would wander around the room, pausing to notice the toys peppering the floor and the kids’ stunning new art on the fridge . . .

And I’d want to say: How was my day?

Today has been a lifetime.

It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I’d explode.

I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone.

I was saturated—just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby I yearned to smell her sweet skin again.

I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do.

Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst.

At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption.

Husband—when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period.

But I’m not complaining.

This is not a complaint, so don’t try to FIX IT.

I wouldn’t have my day Any.Other.Way. I’m just saying—it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain—an entire day with lots of babies.

But I’d be too tired to say all of that. So I’d just cry, or yell, or smile and say “fine,” and then hand the baby over and run to Target to wander aisles aimlessly, because that’s all I ever really wanted.

But I’d be a little sad because love is about really being seen and known and I wasn’t being seen or known then. Everything was really hard to explain. It made me lonely.

So we went to therapy, like we do.

Through therapy, we learned to ask each other better questions. We learned that if we really want to know our people, if we really care to know them—we need to ask them better questions and then really listen to their answers.

We need to ask questions that carry along with them this message: “I’m not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you.”

If we don’t want throw away answers, we can’t ask throw away questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love.

So Craig and I don’t ask “how was your day?” anymore.

After a few years of practicing increasingly intimate question asking, now we find ourselves asking each other questions like these:

  • When did you feel loved today?
  • When did you feel lonely?
  • What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?
  • What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?
  • What can I do to help you right now?

I know. WEEEEEIRRD at first. But not after a while. Not any weirder than asking the same damn empty questions you’ve always asked that elicit the same damn empty answers you’ve always gotten.

And so now when our kids get home from school, we don’t  say: “How was your day?” Because they don’t know. Their day was lots of things.

Instead we ask our kids:

  • How did you feel during your spelling test?
  • What did you say to the new girl when you all went out to recess?
  • Did you feel lonely at all today?
  • Were there any times you felt proud of yourself today?

And I never ask my friends: How are you?

Because they don’t know either.

Instead I ask:

  • How is your mom’s chemo going?
  • How’d that conference with Ben’s teacher turn out?
  • What’s going really well with work right now?

Questions are like gifts.

It’s the thought behind them that the receiver really FEELS. We have to know the receiver to give the right gift and to ask the right question.

Generic gifts and questions are all right, but personal gifts and questions feel better. Love is specific, I think. It’s an art. The more attention and time you give to your questions, the more beautiful the answers become.

Life is a conversation. Make it a good one.

If you would like help with your communication, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

Basic Principles of Effective Communication

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Basic Principles of Effective Communication

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

John is a student writing a paper on male and female communication. He emailed me saying, “I would be honored if you would please take a few, brief moments and answer three questions for me.”

Question #1: In your opinion, what communication breakdowns occur between males and females?

We often say communication is the key to a successful marriage; however, I prefer to say that mutual understanding is the key.

If I speak perfect Spanish and you speak perfect German, we can communicate in prose that touches on poetic, but if the other does not know our mother tongue, they will not understand us.

I take the position that women lean toward Love-Talk and men toward Respect-Talk, which I show in my books, Love & Respect and The Language of Love & Respect. The principles explained in both books are based on Ephesians 5:33, the discoveries at the University of Washington, as well as my own research.

When a husband does not understand what his wife means by what she says (“You aren’t loving me”) and a wife does not understand what he means by what he says (“You aren’t respecting me), they will not understand each other and thus will not communicate very well.

This is a simple explanation that I write about elsewhere in greater depth.

Question #2: What important skills are necessary for effective communication between males and females?

She needs to learn to communicate her need for love in respectful ways, and he needs to communicate his need for respect in loving ways.

Let me insert something important here: women need respect and men need love, too. However, we asked 7,000 people this question, “When you are in conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected?” 83% of the men said they felt disrespected and 72% of the women said they felt unloved.

We all need love and respect equally, but the felt need differs during the conflict.

To effectively communicate, a wife must learn how to communicate her feelings of being unloved in a way that sounds respectful to her husband, and a husband must learn how to communicate his feelings of being disrespected in a way that sounds loving to his wife. Often it is seen that in order to put forward their points, couples end up arguing and it escalates to shouting and disruptive behavior (from the perspective of the neighbors), leading to serious police intervention. This should not be the case.

Question #3: What can be done by both males and females of all ages to increase effective communication in relationships?

Understand that God designed the genders differently. Neither is wrong, just different. Though we are equal, we are not the same.

We have shown that the differences exceed simple biology–they spill over onto how we think and feel. A man and a woman can encounter the same conflict, but one’s gender drives how that conflict will be interpreted and handled.

For example, 85% of those who stonewall and withdraw in conflict are male. Why? Many wives say it is because he is unloving, but I believe he does so to calm down–he knows it is not honorable to allow a conflict among friends to escalate out of control.

Why would a man need to calm down? At moments of marital conflict the heartbeats of many males, according to the University of Washington, can reach 99 beats per minute. He is in warrior mode. His wife, however, remains relatively calm with regard to BPM.

Interestingly, she appears out of control while he appears stoic, but internally both respond differently.

She does not interpret the conflict as a provocation, but as an opportunity to resolve the matter. On the other hand, he feels provoked and senses a need to calm down, lest things get out of hand.

Why would a husband do this? I see it as honorable. He does not want to fight, so he withdraws to protect the relationship. But when wives were asked by researchers what they felt at such moments, the wives said, “It feels like an act of hostility.”

Who is right? Is it an act of honor or an act of hostility? Yes. It just depends if one filters it throughblue or pink.

In our study, how did the wives approach their husbands in conflict? Research reveals that women tend to move toward their husbands to connect; they do not withdraw. However, the researchers found that when wives move toward their husbands, they do so with criticism and complaint.

I believe it is because they care. However, when the husbands were asked how they feel about the wife’s approach, many of the men interpret the ongoing criticism as contempt for who they are as men.

Who is right? Is it an act of care or an act of contempt? Yes. It just depends on the pink and blueview.

Neither are wrong, just different. When we learn these differences, harmony can be presentbetween men and women.

We will not attack the other as hostile and contemptuous, but rather as good-willed and desiring to do what is caring and honorable.

Hope this helps.

-Dr. E


If you would like help in communication, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.