Co-authors of over thirty books including most recent
Co-founder and co-director, Center for Relationship Development since 1991
Les is a professor of clinical psychology at Seattle Pacific University (SPU)
Leslie is a marriage and family therapist at SPU
Newspaper/Magazine contributions to: USA Today, New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Women’s Day, Family Circle, Brides, Men’s Health, Marriage Partnership, Psychology Today, etc.
Media appearances include: Oprah Winfrey Show, GMA, CNN Today, Home & Family Show, Fox News Channel, etc.
DEFINING VERBAL ABUSE
The Parrotts define verbal abuse as blaming, criticizing, name calling, and contempt (body language). They also say the struggle happens because of fear: neither person feels emotionally safe; each one is trying to gain control.
They cite some cutting edge research done by Dr. John Gottman. He had hundreds of couples over the span of years live together in the "love lab" for one day and had everything observed. He came up with the concept similar to the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Dr. Gottman discovered that if couples had the following present in their marriages, their marriages were doomed to fail. They are: criticism, contempt, stone walling (or withdrawal), and defensiveness. This study showed a 94 percent accuracy rate.
The Parrotts also list six saboteurs of marriage while are: busyness, irritability, boredom, drift, debt, and pain from one's past.
It is important for couples to create an emotionally safe place for each other. Each needs to understand how they are hardwired emotionally and understand their hot buttons. They need to learn the art of creating safe conversation.
THE NOT-SO-EASY SOLUTION
Les and Leslie Parrott give five not-so-easy steps for couples to solve their problems:
A PERSONAL TRIAL
Over three years ago, the Parrotts went through an experience that tested their marriage. After fourteen years of marriage, they conceived their first child. There were complications that were unclear. As a result, the doctor advised Leslie to remain on bedrest three months into the pregnancy. Six months into the pregnancy, Leslie was put into the hospital because the baby wasn't growing or getting the nutrition he needed. Since Leslie's life was at serious risk, their baby, John, was born two weeks later through emergency C-section. He was born three months premature, weighed over a pound, and had to be rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit. A week later, baby John was rushed to emergency surgery. His surgery was a success, and he remained in ICU for the next three months. Today, John is a happy three-year-old. However, the Parrotts say that experience changed their lives and marriage forever. They say they know unspeakable fear together as a couple. They know what it's like as a couple to be jolted to the core.
CAN WE TALK?
Married twenty years, Les and Leslie Parrott say they’ve been on a 20-year quest for good communication in marriage for themselves and for other married couples. Les says that the quality of a relationship can be easily measured by the quality of the communication in that relationship. So the Parrotts have looked at their own relationship communications and those of others around them, and they have developed what they believe are the ultimate keys for improving communication.
FEAR FACTOR: EVERYBODY HAS ONE
The Parrotts point out that everyone of us has a fear of losing something we value in the daily exchanges of our life. We fear losing time, approval, loyalty or quality. Our fear factor contributes positive and negative influences to our communication. Identifying your fear factor and your partner’s fear factor can allow you to address conversation in such a way as to protect what the Parrotts call your emotional safety zone. The Parrotts say couples can achieve a level of conversational intimacy once they learn how to eliminate the fear factor and operate in the emotional safety zone. This kind of conversation is satisfying and productive. Once you’ve identified your fear factor, these four questions will help you build your own emotional safety zone.
The Parrotts say once you answer these questions, you’ll know your own talk style and from there you can establish real love talk.
The Parrotts have developed an online tool to aid couples in identifying their fear factors. The assessment tool provides a detailed assessment of each person’s fear factors. Then it compiles the two sets of information into a practical tangible document describing how couples fear factors’ interface and how they can work to create the emotional safety zone in which strong positive communication can take place.
See where your relationship ranks on the Love Talk Indicator.
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