Tuesday, November 24, 2009

When Sparks Fly

Janet writes: We have a lot of strange arguments in our house. If you sit and listen to them, you can see why they happen. They all start because one of us forgets to say that key sentence, write an important reminder on the calendar, or clearly state his or her point in a conversation. Tim and I have more or less learned how to stop, back up, and correct the errors when this happens. We can make the argument dissolve very quickly when we do this. By the way, I am responsible for just as many of these errors as Tim, so don’t just blame the person with MS!

Our kids, however, are a different story. Tim and his daughter especially get into some whopping rows over the littlest things, and I just sit back and shake my head when I listen to them because I know that the whole argument could be avoided by a little clarification. We have been educating our kids about how MS effects cognitive functions and they appear to be slowly “getting it”, but I never really know how much they are tuning in or how much they remember when it comes to applying this information in the heat of a good fight.

Tim and I have learned a few very helpful techniques when having discussions about important, emotional topics between the two of us. These techniques help us avoid the whole weird argument thing.

1. Have your discussion in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Lock the door, turn off the cell phone – hop in the car and drive off if you have too. Eliminating outside distractions will help you both focus on what is being said and if it is being said correctly. Tim and I have found this technique to be the most important one.

2. Be patient when talking and don’t interrupt. The person with MS may not be able to finish his or her thought if you interrupt them, and may lose the thought completely. This will just make them angry and more willing to spar.

3. If something doesn’t sound right, it often isn’t. Ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid to do this. Sometimes a person with MS will say one wrong word in a sentence and it will change the entire meaning of what they are saying. Repeating the sentence often will help that person catch their error.

We have had good luck using these techniques to discuss our issues, and we have slowly been working on teaching our kids these same techniques. (They are teenagers.) We hope that they will be able to use these techniques also, and we hope that anyone reading will put these techniques to some good use.

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