This year has been a trying time for so many couples I’ve spoken with. Things have changed in the dynamics of living situations, work situations, school and so on. When you’re going through stress and are fatigued, sensitive, it can be easy to show up as our worst selves. We don’t like showing up this way and don’t like when our partners show up this way. I want to share with you a few tips that will help. These have helped myself and my clients.
- Assume you and your partner are not intentionally trying to hurt you. It creates a wedge between the two of you. When we are hurt, frustrated or tired, it is so easy to snap at the ones we love. While we’re doing it, we don’t want to create distance. It’s as if a monster has crawled into our bodies and taken over. Try to remember, “My partner and I love each other and all will be well again in due time.”
- Do not blame the other person or make them wrong. There are two sides to everything and both people are entitled to their side of the story. We all form stories when we are talking with others. It’s normal to interpret what someone says or does from the place we are at the moment in our lives. If we have wounds that are needing to be dealt with, we will have a trigger. This other person’s behavior is triggering it in us. Hurt exists inside of us to be healed. Relationships are the best place to heal our hurt, although it’s no fun in the moment. It can bring us closer together once we’ve dealt with it. When we blame the other person for our upset, it also creates a wedge between the two of you. If we honor our partner’s side, it usually goes over much better than when we point the finger.
- Allow you and your partner to have the feelings that arise. If we are hurt, our feelings show up out of nowhere. They are painful and intense. There is a safe way to honor you and your partner’s feelings. One way is to breathe and let them flow without trying to get them to stop. Another way is to excuse yourself and feel them, kind of like a time-out. The last way is to become the observer. You can say or think, “I’m having an emotion right now or my partner is having an emotion right now.” Observe it like a stream of water flowing. Don’t try to change it. Don’t try to stifle, fix or stop it. Just allow it to be. If someone tries to get you to stop the emotion, you can say, “It’s ok to have an emotion. I’m human. Please just let me have it and I’ll allow you to have yours.” When emotions are intense, it is the worst time to try to have a conversation about what happened. This will help in speaking in a kind way from your heart when you’re able to move into having a rational conversation about it.
Conflict is normal in relationships and can prove to help grow each person in it. I hope these tips have helped you.