We have been talking a lot about how to strengthen our relationship foundation but, what happens when things get tough? Today we are going to talk about what to do (and what not to do) when things are hard.
No matter the relationship, we are going to have struggles and fights. No relationship is perfect and we will have differences that we can’t seem to get past. So, what do we do when those moments happen? To we call each other names? Do we walk away and ignore each other? Do we forget to show each other love, even in those tough times?
Healthy fighting, (and yes, there is such a thing!) Begins with empathy for your partner. It beings with trying to see their reality and things from their view point. Then we must add mindfulness to the conversation. Be there. Listen. Be open to hear and understand. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own viewpoint or our own position that we fail to hear what our partner is saying. I know this is easy to say, and can be hard to put into action. But, when we have practiced the skills to keep the connection strong, it can translate to healthy fighting!
Sometimes the topic or situation becomes just to much. When that happens, time out’s are a healthy way to take a break and take some time to refocus yourself and calm down. But, how does one do this without it threatening the relationship?
First, plan for time outs ahead of time, when things are good. Just like you practiced fire drills in school, the more you practice when things are good, the easier it will be to carry out then when things are tough.
How to set up a time out.
- Pre decide on the amount of time it will be. Maybe it is 15 minutes or even 30 minutes. Deciding ahead of time how long it will be will take away the mystery of “when will we talk again”. It also can be added to if needed, but always have the check back with each other at the end of it.
- When a time out is called the conversation stops. No last words, last digs or comments. When one of you calls a time out, it is respected.
- Separate. Take the time out and use it for you. Practice your self soothing plan (which we will talk about further in this blog)
- At the end of the time out, come back together and repair. Repair before Resolve.
That is so important. Most people thing that you have to resolve the issue before you can repair the relationship. Actually, it’s the opposite. When you focus on connecting with each other, you will be more likely to hear and be open to each other. So, do something fun together. Take a walk, watch a show, play a game. Take time to re establish the connection before you dive back into the topic.
John Gottman has found about 69% of all issues are unresolved with relationships! That’s a huge number. It can stem from fundamental differences, the way we were raised and the way we see the world. He states,
“ I think it’s about perspective . If you can accept that many of your problems aren’t going away, then you can focus on what to do about those issues when they come up. As a first step, quit trying to solve the problem. It’s wasted energy. Instead, focus on achieving perspective, empathy, and, ultimately, dialogue.”
This perspective comes from building those love maps, focusing on the bidding process and becoming Dream Detectives.. (which will be part of your HW and we will talk about in a little bit!)
So, you have set up a time out plan and are ready to use it when needed. What next?
Well… What are you going to do to help yourself calm down and relax? This is where self soothing comes in. It is what you do, during that time out time to help yourself calm down, recenter and refocus.
What does that look like? Well..that really depends on you! Do you like to clean? Go for a walk? Play video games or read a book? Maybe a hot bath or riding your bike? It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as its healthy (no binge eating or drinking please) It keeps you within the time frame decided on..(so no 3 hour movies) and it is something that will help you get back to you.
Home Work Time!!
I want to challenge my readers to put this into action… I hope you take me up on it!
- I want you to explore what will work for you for self soothing. Brainstorm some ideas to practice on.
- Set up a time out time frame with your partner and talk about what that looks like for you.
- Become a Dream Detective. Take a look at some of the perceptual problems that you are having. See if you can recognize patters within the conversations. Are there statements that are kept being said over and over with the same results?
Then, make up a new way of sharing your feelings or expressing that theme. What are you trying to express? Is it an issue rooted from childhood? Maybe a hidden fear or concern? Try to get to the root cause of what is behind the words and feelings.
Once you’ve done this for your side of the position. Try to do the same for your partners. Can you dig deep and try to see if from their side? Get curious about what deeper meanings it can hold for them.
Like all things, this process takes time and practice. The more you practice the better you will get.
Don’t forget about our Facebook group! I am loving all the activity in it..and if you haven’t joined us yet, then what are you waiting for! Let’s continue the conversation there!
The link for our Facebook Tribe Group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/holisticpathwaystribe/