The difference between happy and unhappy couples is how well the couple repairs after a dispute.
What begins as a simple disagreement can turn into yelling, name calling, and not speaking to one another for days.
Sound familiar? We've all been there. The good news is that you can interrupt this dysfunctional dance and restore harmony to your relationship.
These top 10 tips will help you and your partner reclaim a happier and stronger union:
This can stir up past wounds that land us in hurtful arguments with one another that seem to go nowhere. This can leave us feeling exasperated and hopeless. It is important to develop greater awareness of when and how conflict happens, and to discover new tools like skillful communication to better manage these challenging moments.
When we get triggered our nervous system is in fight/flight/freeze mode. First order of business is to de-escalate. Tips and Tools: ground, breathe, re-establish connection to oneself (I’m ok, even though I’m upset.) Thinking goodwill towards our partner and saying to ourselves phrases like “I want to work this out with my partner.”
Say it inside your head or out loud: “I am angry. I am sad. I am ashamed.” Self-validate. Cry if needed. Spend time with your feelings.
Summon self-compassion—this was not the outcome you wanted, you didn’t intend to lose it. Imagine how you would feel toward a friend who had made this mistake. Remind yourself you won’t feel like this forever (you won’t, I promise!)
What is the message or learning here? What are the unmet needs? What do I want/need? What does my partner want/need? Notice how you feel about allowing things to be as they are or being imperfect?
Try to relax and allow the free fall of not grasping to fixed ideas and concepts. While initially this may feel frightening, it is inherently an enlivening and enjoyable experience. The art of listening is that you don’t need to agree or disagree with what you are receiving. Try to be curious and open to what is being said.
Both the listener and the receiver need to be engaged, in a place of mindfully taking on the responsibility of communication as a creative act. What we say, and how we say it, matters. Allow for the back and forth of communication. Being for the other person not seeing them as your enemy (although it may feel like that sometimes!)
Taking responsibility not just for your desire to be received, but for the partner’s availability...what can help them feel receptive? Recognize that you are in fact asking for something.
Often we feel like we’ve got the point, perhaps you think you have heard it before which can lead to an impatience when your partner keeps speaking. The key to listening is giving the other person the experience of being heard. Remember that the person speaking is your friend, and there’s some measure of truth to what they are saying (certainly their experience, but also the situation they are speaking about).
When someone brings a grievance to us our natural and unconscious response is to be defensive. We listen for exaggerations, inaccuracy, and for a judgmental tone of voice in our partner. This is to say that to do an apology well is not easy.
If you offer an apology, there are 3 ways to muck it up:
- Don’t put a BUT in there. I’m sorry but....(negates apology)
- Don’t apologize for the other’s feelings.
- Don’t apologize to shut down the conversation.
Recovering from a fight can take time so allow yourself to move through these steps spaciously.
Even if you both agree that the fight is over practice extra kindness and respect until your relationship is back on track.
For your convenience, I offer telephone or online therapy. We can connect for sessions while you're in the comfort of your own home or office. All you need is an internet connection and a private space to talk.