Don’t Take It Personal


Arguments happen when we take things personally, but most of the time, we’re jumping the gun.

I’m an expert on arguments. I’ve got a lot of experience. My brother-in-law casts me with “Often wrong, but never in doubt,” and “My way or the highway.” I confess, I can be pretty committed to my ideas.

What leads us to argue? What ‘sets us off’ and makes things emotional?

Arguments start the moment someone takes something personal. And most of the time it wasn’t meant to be personal. It might be a poor word choice that sounds accusatory. Or we don’t feel listened to or understood. Or we so want the other person to see the truth the way we do.

Nowhere is this stronger than in marriage. For some reason, we lose sight of the fact that we’re married to another PERSON—an individual with their own body, opinions, feelings, desires, temperament, and family-of-origin. We need to train ourselves to listen better, to ‘live and let live’ and assume what’s said ISN’T personal until it undeniably is. You know when it’s really personal, don’t you?

Here are some examples of things not to take personal….

Your wife gets wrapped around the axle because of a disagreement with her sister. As a result, she’s not in the mood for sex. Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.

Your wife has a big presentation tomorrow. She’s worked on it for two weeks and she’s not quite ready. She’s not ‘fully present’ at the dinner table. As soon as she can, she slips away to her home office and gets back on the computer. Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.

Your wife has something that doesn’t feel right in her digestive tract. She’s not sick… just a little ‘off’. She wants to go to bed early and be left alone. Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.

Your wife likes a certain t.v. show. She wants to watch it. Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.

Your wife asks for help in the kitchen or with putting the kids to bed. She’s not calling you a slug. She’s not saying you’re less tired than her. She just needs help. Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.

Your wife enjoys meeting a friend for lunch or going shopping with her mom. She spends a little more money than she should have. Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.

Want better a relationship with your wife?

Train yourself to hear what’s being said and consider the motive of the person who’s speaking. Rarely is your wife attacking you. She’s just trying to live her life. To get something done. Or make you understand how she feels. Or explain why she did something. Instead of listening with your ears perked up and your finger on the trigger, listen with patience, love and compassion.

Assume her motive is not to attack or criticize you. Decide not to take anything personal. More than likely, it’s not about you.

Question: Have you learned to ‘filter’ what’s said so you don’t take things personal and start arguments?

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