Commonly couples will share that they need to work on communication when they get into a conflict. After some initial discussion and self-reflection what can float to the surface is insight into individual contribution and an opportunity to become allies with one another versus sparring partners.
Take a moment and reflect on a common issue that you and your partner might have. Do you find that one of you says something that triggers the other and Boom! A heated discussion ignites...
Is there a common set of characteristics that play out when both of you disagree?
- Who raises their voice?
- Who swears?
- Who becomes the critic?
- Who points the finger?
- Who blames who?
- Who becomes defensive?
- Who doesn’t show any emotions?
- Who takes the higher road?
- Who tells who what their feeling?
- Who shuts down?
Are there sensitive topics or triggers that each of you use to get under the others skin? Who pokes the bear first? On one hand, emotions such as happiness, joy, and love can release neurochemicals that enable us to feel good. On the other hand, our bodies can also release neurochemicals that also satisfy an appetite to battle when emotions such as fear, anxiety, shock, or anger are experienced.
It seems like a no-brainer. Do more healthy activities and make more healthy choices to experience the release of more healthy neurochemicals and avoid or minimize unhealthy behaviors to mitigate the release of unhealthy neurochemicals.
If only relationships played out that way...
While in a relationship, patterns of interaction can seem unpredictable, there are patterns, that can be identified, and strategies implemented to help break the pattern of frustrating behavior.
A strategy to consider for overcoming challenging topics or triggering events is to walk around it. When a situation arises in a relationship, one or both partners, can become immediately triggered or respond in some way, shape, or form.
Our default settings take over and we manage, cope, behave, or respond according to how we have adapted ourselves to feel safe, secure, or stable in similar situations. Frequently, that default setting can look and feel like our fight, flight, or freeze response. Which, doesn’t put us in a mode to be open, curious, understand, and respond to our partner.
Instead, try Identifying what is happening in the present moment, and externalize it from each other. Defuse the situation by removing the focus from a back and forth battle and place it on the table.
Literally, place it on the table...
When you place it on the table, and walk around it, you create the opportunity to become partners and look at the problem, situation, etc. as allies and try to figure out how, why, what is going on that has led to the current moment. Versus, continuing the normal pattern of behavior and becoming enmeshed in the moment and allowing the problem, situation, etc. to overcome both of you.
Next time you experience an argument. Take a pause, identify the topic, externalize it from the two of you. Literally, put it on the table, write it on a napkin, a post it, and then mutually look at it and work together to identify what it is? Why is it present? How it’s triggering one or both of you?
Then notice how…
- You work together rather than battle one another.
- Your conversation becomes more about understanding one another.
- Your body feels less triggered.
- Your voice, tone, and speech changes.
Notice how it may be more about other facets of your life than each other.
Next time you feel like battling with one another try something different. Instead of engaging in it, try to walk around it...