#1 Marriage Boot Camp Seminar

How to FIGHT like an MVP during Marriage Conflicts

This is a question that I get all the time. “How do I stop all the fighting!?!”
Well, you don’t because here’s the thing:

  • Conflict is normal – every good marriage has conflict.
  • Conflict is an expression of our differences and is what? NORMAL!
  • FUN FACT – 69% of all couple’s conflict is unsolvable according to researcher John Gottman. Take, for example, introversion and extroversion. You may never be able to agree on how much time should be spent socializing, you can, however, accept and make room for each other in a way that keeps you connected.

So what can we do? First, understand that CONNECTION is the goal, not winning a point and that agreement is rare (see FUN FACT). At Boot Camp, we use a tool called MVP.
MVP – MVP is not just a tool; it is also a way of viewing our loved one. Our mate should be:

  • The Most Valuable Person – This is the person that you value above all others!
  • The Most Visible Person – This is the person that you see the most, that you actively do life with!
  • The Most Virtuous Person – This is the person that you should be able to trust and admire the most.

If you read the MVP description and went, “check, check, check,” read no further. If you have no conflict and feel utterly connected, then you probably fell in love a few minutes ago or are in some deep denial. Even so, it is good to have tools…just in case a friend needs help.
MVP is communication 101, useful in all situations, but imperative when you get into conflict.

M – Mirror V – Validate P – hope

M – MIRROR – “What I heard you say is…”

If you’ve had the pleasure of going through the Boot Camp seminar, you will know this skill. Whether you use this valuable tool is another matter and certainly not my fault. We use the “drill & kill” technique whereby we put you in many different situations and force you to use it over and over and over while we stand nearby with a rolled up newspaper. Just kidding. We do, however, yell constantly, “WHEN ONE PERSON IS TALKING, THE OTHER IS LISTENING!” Real talk.

If you can master this one skill, it will revolutionize your communication.

When you mirror, your focus turns to the other person’s feelings and thoughts, and you consider them WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.

You are not being asked to agree or support their position, you are simply being asked to hear them in an accurate, and honest way. When you mirror, you momentarily put your own feelings and opinions on hold, you focus on your mate, and you reflect back by saying, “what I heard you say…” then you say it back with an acute attunement to how the person speaking is feeling.

For example, your wife says, “don’t you just love these shoes?”
If you focus internally, you will consider how you feel about the shoes and your logical brain kicks in. You may not like the shoes.
You say, “I do not love the shoes.
Does that make you and your mate feel closer? NO? Try this!

Focus externally. Look at your mate and assess how she is feeling about the shoes. She is clearly delighted. What to do? LIE?!?!? No! MVP!
     Good husband says, “I can see that you love them, and that makes me happy!”

Here’s another example:

Jim: “I’m not happy with how much time you spend working on Boot Camp stuff.”
GOOD MIRROR – Elizabeth: “What I hear is that you’re not happy with how much time I’m spending on Boot Camp stuff. Tell me about that.”



V – VALIDATION: “I value your feelings, even if I disagree…”

It is not enough to intellectually understand what is being said. How many have heard this, “I heard everything you said, I can repeat back word-for-word what you said!”

Does that make you and your mate feel closer? NO? Try this!

Validation requires your full attention and says, “That’s a good point, I value your thoughts, I can see why you feel that way (even when you disagree).”
Jim: “I’m not happy with how much time you spend working on Boot Camp stuff.”

Elizabeth: Noticing that Jim is sad, says, “I can see that. It makes sense that my work focus is making you unhappy.”

“But…but, we didn’t accomplish anything!” Um, yes, you did. You managed to see and hear each other, and you now feel closer. You may even begin to feel more empathy and empathy is the key to connection.

Or maybe you just want to be right. Perhaps you want to prove your point. Punch line: THIS WILL NOT MAKE YOU FEEL CLOSER! It’s like your desire for chocolate. Sometimes you just have to surrender the want.

Let’s move on to the P in MVP.

P – HOPE: “My hope is in our connection.”

We fight for something, not against something. Most couples miss this truth under all of the fussing. You fight about how much time he spends at work, or about how much money she spends on clothes, but if you dig deep enough and are mindful of the most profound relational truths you will find this: “I miss you. I miss us.”

The point of using the MVP tool is to CONNECT with our mate and at the same time accept, honor, respect, understand, and love our mate.

Even in the tough times. Especially in the tough times. Hope is for those times when you are feeling low because there has been an unfortunate incident that hashed your mellow (clinical term for deep feelings of disconnection). True to Boot Camp form, I’m gonna tell you how to express your HOPE.

“When I think about our sweet connection, I feel sad that we’re not there now. MY HOPE is that we will get out of our cycle and get back to being US. Here’s what I’m willing to do…”

Now and only now comes any problem solving that needs to take place. If you slow down and MVP your mate first, the odds of resolving conflict and reconnecting skyrocket!