Alex burst into the kitchen and dropped his briefcase on the counter. “Today was crazy,” he said, “you can’t believe how much extra work got dumped on my desk.” Alex began to describe his day to Sharon, who was in the middle of preparing dinner and watching their three kids playing in the family room. After a few minutes Alex asked Sharon, “what do you think I should tell him?” “Tell me again what the problem is,” she stated, rushing back into the kitchen to check the stove after sorting out a dispute between the twins. In frustration, realizing that she had not heard the most important details of his day, Alex thundered “no one listens to me around here,” and stormed out of the kitchen.
The frequent conflict between Alex and Sharon was wearing down their relationship. They were constantly snapping at each other, and the warmth and intimacy that had characterized their marriage was slipping away. They needed to learn how to address these problems, but didn’t know where to start. So things got worse, not better.
Like so many couples, Alex and Sharon had very few tools to help them navigate the challenging waters of married life. Poor communications, conflict, growing more distant, failing to find special time together, were becoming day-to-day issues. They wanted a much better relationship, but didn’t know how to make that happen.
It seems ironic that the aspects of life that are most important to our happiness — relationships with the people we love – are the areas where we are often ill equipped. We frequently are more skillful at solving workplace problems than the ones we encounter in our relationships. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. We can get better at married life, and there are “marriage skills” that will help us find greater happiness and stability. Helping you discover these is the purpose of the “Tools for a better Marriage,” the weekend marriage retreats at Dominion Hill.
In time Alex and Sharon adopted a couple of “tools” that changed their marriage. First, they decided to create a time each day when the kids were occupied, and they could talk without distraction. Trying to do this just before dinner, when Sharon was running around the kitchen, was a recipe for conflict that should be avoided. Secondly, Alex had a temper that flared fast and often led to words that both he and Sharon regretted. By deciding to call “time out” to each other when conversations began to escalate, they learned to separate for a while, allow emotions to cool, and then regrouped to have a conversation where they were ready to listen to each other. They were amazed at how these two, seemingly small steps, made a big difference in their marriage, and helped them pull together again.