“Left the toilet seat up? I have to leave it up or I’ll pee on the seat in the middle of the night, how much would you like that?” How many times has a fight started off with something as mundane as this? The truth is most couples have the same kinds of fights over and over and they can’t seem to stop. Follow these suggestions and you can start to end the fight and get back to intimacy together.
Fetting angry is one thing, holding on to resentment is another. Resentments not only color our own day, but they are also destroyers of marriages. This is why most couples have the same kinds of fights over and over. Studies show that the longer a member holds on to resentment, the less likely there will be long-term marital happiness. Letting go of resentment is simple but not always easy. It requires owning our part of the problem and having empathy for the other person combined with a willingness to forgive. In the end, it comes down to would you rather be right or happy?
When your partner says something that is triggering, take a breath or too and refocus. Rather than reacting, you want to be proactive. Think about where you would LIKE the conversation to go in that moment rather than going off and taking it somewhere else. It helps to identify your triggers in advance. Being consciously aware of the things that you are reactive to, can help you get the distance you need so that those triggers are not running your life. This can be challenging and may require some outside help identifying triggers.
As we get to know our triggers, we are also looking for ways to stay calm. Our triggers are activated by our brain’s natural defense mechanisms. When our defense mechanisms are activated, the most mundane statement can appear like an attack. Studies show that when we engage in mindfulness, mediation, and/or prayer, we develop another part of our brains and shrink the part that’s always looking to fight or run. The key to being receptive is keeping calm!
We all have an inner critic. When that voice is active in our minds, we need to beware. This voice is present to help us watch out for risks. When allowed to run free, however, this voice will poison our daily experience. The problem is the critical voice is grounded in judgment. Judgments are two-dimensional, they never represent the whole picture. Judgments can help us navigate potential dangers by avoiding risks that appear unmanageable. However, when allowed to run rampant, our inner critic will limit what we hear and see when not filtered by our rational mind. When allowed free reign, our inner critic will frame everything as negative, including the words and deeds of our partner.
Most couples have the same kinds of fights over and over. Every argument involves two people. Disengage from the argument. As much as we want to blame the other person we probably have some responsibility. The only way we could not is if we refuse to engage in the discussion at all. Taking responsibility for your own part of any mess is the most sure-fire way to disengage. It will also help you begin to move towards healing! Taking responsibility and cleaning up our side of the street WITHOUT being judgemental or critical of our partner is key. We model the kind of behavior that will build intimacy when we do this. If your partner insists on continuing to attack you after you you may have a problem involving verbal and/or emotional abuse in your partnership.
The basis for intimacy is a sense of safety, empathy, and caring communication. We can experience feelings of fear, anger, blame, and frustration. How we express these feelings will be the difference between whether our relationship is growing in intimacy or diminishing. Expressing our feelings from a stance of personal responsibility and concern will be far better received. When we allow the feelings to take us and come out in a messy jumble.
Choose to be vulnerable and ask for what we want. You will do far better than when you beat your partner over the head with your feelings. Keep digging on this topic, look for more tips!