Natalie Workman & Brandon Dawson - No Bickering Week 1

It’s been exactly one week since we made the decision not to bicker. Remember this post?

And what a week it’s been! So let’s do a little recap, shall we?

The No Bickering Challenge:

What is the No Bickering Challenge?

Brandon and I decided not to bicker for 7 days. Every time we were about to bicker, I would pull out my phone and write the topic down so that we could schedule a time at the end of the week to argue.

Natalie Workman & Brandon Dawson - No Bickering Week 1

Why did we start this?

After spending a week together in Cabo with one of Brandon’s daughters, it struck me how much we bicker. I hadn’t noticed it until this trip as I was trying to look at our relationship through someone else’s eye. If you were to ask a third party, I’m certain they would say we bicker. Often.

I don’t love this and don’t believe it’s productive. Bickering is a waste of energy for us and I’m sure it exhausts other people. I would like to note that it does provide comic relief. Brandon and I are normally pretty funny when we bicker because it always ends with me grabbing his cheeks or him making a joke and then we all move on. We rarely let it further into a fight.

I’m not convinced that all bickering is bad. But I am committed to decreasing how much we bicker. As is Brandon. So last week, I was writing my blog post on the airplane ride home from Cabo and asked Brandon if he’d be interested in starting a No Bickering Challenge for 7 days and, to my surprise, he loved the idea. So that was that: we weren’t going to bicker.

Natalie Workman & Brandon Dawson - No Bickering Week 1

How did it go?

Day 1 was easy. It was just the two of us (which is something we’ll talk more about in a second) and we didn’t even have to try to not bicker. We had a great dinner together and went to see a Star Is Born. Both of us cried and it was one of those tender, sweet evenings together.

Day 2 and 3 took a little more work. We are in the process of building a home. Enough said, right? Day 2 and 3 consisted of us making decisions on the home and this is new territory for us. We’ve never built a home together. 90% of the time, Brandon doesn’t have an opinion but the 10% he does, it’s a very strong opinion. The challenge? I never know what’s going to be the 10% vs the 90% so I start down the decision making process and he chimes in right at the end and wants something totally different. All of that being said, we came across a few sticking points in the selection process where we weren’t aligned. I think we ended up bickering a little – but I did make it a point to cut it off and write it down for us to discuss come Sunday. I was pretty proud of us.

Day 4 and 5 were a piece of cake. I think it’s worth mentioning that Brandon and I weren’t physically together for this portion of our challenge. He flew to NYC for work on Thursday morning and we met back up on Friday evening. We didn’t bicker at all during that time because we were both busy and had little time to talk. We were SO pumped to see each other Friday night. I missed him like crazy.

Day 6 was a good day. Saturdays are always easy going and we both had plans in the daytime. We had both his middle and youngest daughter over the weekend so we took them to the Blazers game on Saturday night. All of us had a good time and we had no issues. We were feeling strong coming into D-Day…

Day 7 was… not what I expected.

Natalie Workman & Brandon Dawson - No Bickering Week 1

The Scheduled Sunday Argument

We woke up on Day 7 and Brandon shot up asking “do we get to argue now?!” I originally thought we’d have our argument in the afternoon because there’s nothing I love more than a peaceful Sunday morning, drinking coffee in bed, and catching up on our favorite tv shows. But he wanted the argument to take place ASAP so we drank our coffee and decided to just get it over.

I pulled out my list and only had 2 topics to work through. Brandon had nothing.

*As much as I love being candid with you guys and would totally love to share more about the topics, I’ve decided not to go into too much detail because other people are involved. You gotta have boundaries, ya know?

We discussed the two topics for a total 0f 11 minutes. I stated my case for what was bothering me. I was very specific about what I wanted the outcome to be. Then Brandon acknowledged where I was coming from and actually agreed with me.

I was floored. Both of us were calm and resolute about finding solutions for both of us. None of the normal emotions trickled in. We both were just being practical and it was amazing.

Natalie Workman & Brandon Dawson - No Bickering Week 1

Our Bickering Challenge Summary:

The Good

We came into the conversation knowing that we had a common goal: to find solutions quickly in order to focus on more important things. Having this structured argument time allowed us to demonstrate to each other that we’re serious about working through the real deal issues. In the long run, our goals are much bigger than any issues that we have and it’s critically important to remember this.

On the day to day stuff, it’s easy to nitpick just to make conversation or be heard. Us not bickering and only focusing on the big things allowed us to be laser focused on problem solving instead of being right. And I ultimately believe that this switch in our behavior will be one the most significant stepping stones that helps us get where we want to be – personally, professionally, and financially – in the next 10+ years.

Also, acknowledgement is key. That’s the only way this works. You really have to view the situations from the other person’s perspective and come from a place of understanding. I implicitly trust that Brandon wants as little drama in our lives as possible. When he feels strongly about something, he doesn’t choose to feel that way to piss me off. He has underlying reasons and it’s my job to figure out what they are so I can address them. The simplest “I understand where you’re coming from” makes the biggest difference in positively framing the conversation.

But let’s go back to Day 7…

Natalie Workman & Brandon Dawson - No Bickering Week 1

The Bad

I kinda left you hanging on Day 7, huh? Sorry about that. I think the evening after the argument was the most important part. So I saved the best for last. We had this great argument and kinda high-fived each other thinking: this actually worked! Well the day wasn’t over. Last night, we went to visit my parent’s new condo and had dinner with my mom. About 45 minutes into dinner, Brandon and I started bickering and my MOM called us out on it. At first we said we weren’t bickering but she was right: we had been. We quickly moved off of it and this realization hit me – we only bicker around other people. Our bickering problem is never with just the two of us. Ever. It’s only when other people enter the mix that we start poking and prodding at each other.

Hmm. So what next?

Natalie Workman & Brandon Dawson - No Bickering Week 1

Our Next Steps

You live and you learn, right? That was the whole purpose of last week’s bickering challenge. I’d be naive to think that I would solve this in 7 short days. I wouldn’t say it’s solved. It’s evolved and pushed us to have better dialogue and focus on what’s important to us.

We’ve decided to do this challenge for a second week but pay closer attention to our interactions when other people, especially our closest friends and family, are around. Lucky for us: we have the perfect opportunity this coming weekend. My parents and his youngest daughters are staying with us in Palm Springs over the weekend. His mom also lives down there so we get to spend time with her, too.

Let the No Bickering Challenge Week 2 commence!

Xoxo Natalie





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