We now know that conflict in your relationship is not bad. In fact, with the right approach, fighting with your partner can bring you closer together. In my last blog, we covered the essential tools for communicating with your partner when there is a conflict, or when one partner is struggling with an issue. We used the acronym L.O.V.E, which includes Listening, Openness, Validation, and Empathy. For a greater description of what this looks like, please read the previous blog and then come back and join us. It should take you less than five minutes, I promise. Done? Okay, let’s move on then.
The first thing you must know is that you must ALWAYS be on each other’s team. Do NOT fight in public. If you disagree with your partner, that’s okay. But address it in private at another time. When you later find yourselves alone and you are ready to provide feedback to you partner, take notice if you are feeling angry. If you are, DO NOT take that next step, pass go, or collect $300. You CANNOT provide feedback or criticism when you are feeling angry. You must only be feeling love when providing feedback to your partner. You must implement the 5 to 1 rule. For every criticism, you have to complement your spouse five times.
I want to continue addressing the topic of anger because it is such a huge barrier to conflict resolution, and most importantly, connection. We identified that a positive outcome of fighting is that the two of you are closer after the experience. When anger is involved, this becomes incredibly difficult. Anger is a loss of control. When anger enters the conversation, it’s over. At this point, the dialogue is driven purely by ego and emotion, which only results in further pain and suffering. Here’s what you need to do when this happens. One of the two partners says, “I feel as though there is too much emotion involved now. What you have to say is really important to me. You are really important to me. I just don’t think I’m going to be productive at the moment. Would it be okay if we took a break and came back in twenty minutes?”
The reason why this works is because it gives each person a time out to calm themselves down, let the emotion subside, and engage in some productive self-talk. It is during this time when you go for a walk to release the energy of that negative emotion, and ask yourself some important questions. Why am I so upset? Which buttons has she hit on that has elicited such emotion? How have I hurt her? Where have I gone wrong? You must remind yourself that she loves you more than anyone in the world, and so when you hurt her, it is truly devastating to her.
THIS IS THE TIME TO DISPENSE YOUR EMOTION, THINK ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING FOR YOU AND FOR HER.
As a relationship being, the most important and intimate relationship she will have in her life is the person she has chosen to spend her life with. That is you. Remember how much you love her. Finally, there is NO winner in a marital argument because if one wins, the other loses. You are a team, so if one loses, in reality, the other loses as well. Disconnection.
Aside from taking a break from the conflict, there are a few other tricks that may help to disarm the emotion. When you’re feeling angry go have a look at yourself in the mirror. Sometimes the sheer ridiculous look on your face is enough break the spell. Some have tried holding water in their mouth for 30 seconds. Hey, whatever works, right?
As for venting, you can vent about the issue, but NEVER make it a personal attack. Explain to the other person your thoughts and feelings about what he or she has done or said. If what you’re about to say could be experienced as an attack, BITE YOUR TONGUE! Don’t say that next thing that will lead to more suffering and disconnection. Take a break.
BITE YOUR TONGUE BEFORE YOU SAY THAT NEXT THING THAT COULD MAKE IT WORSE
Try not to globalize, meaning, avoid using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’. When we use those words it indicates that something is more permanent and therefore, more difficult to change. These words only lead to hurt and further disconnection.
Contrary to popular belief, you can fight in front of you kids. However, you must prearrange a topic to fight about with your partner. This is a wonderful opportunity for you role-play and teach your children how to fight properly. If they don’t see you fighting at all, they will not learn how to do it right.
You now have the proper education and tools at your disposal. Give it a go. Remember to take that break once emotion becomes involved, and book an appointment to resolve the issue.
Lots of love!