Have you ever wondered how a casual conversation with your mate can somehow end up an argument?
Maybe you two started out talking about something as mild as the weather and in some way one or both of you were triggered and ended up shutting down.If you’re tuned in to yourself and your partner, it is almost palpable when either of you (especially you) shuts down.Communication either stops completely or turns into conflict. And if you’re not tuned in, the disconnection and distance is the same but you probably feel confused about what exactly happened!
Joan and Sam are sailors. They love taking their cruising sailboat out for week-long adventures in waters they’ve not explored before.
They work together excellently when it comes to sailing. Joan is the navigator who has studied the charts and advises Sam, the usual captain, the best course to take.
They both know when their boat is off the charted course and they work as a team to make the necessary corrections. Neither wants to risk running aground, crashing into rocks or getting lost.
In other areas of their relationship, however, Joan and Sam do not communicate or work so well as a team. In fact, part of the reason they usually spend their leisure time sailing is to avoid the tension and fighting that otherwise erupts.
Their main source of conflict is their two daughters who are now young adults. Both are in college and, according to Sam both need to learn how to fend for themselves.
He is ready to cut them off financially and sees his daughters as spoiled and needing some real life lessons. Joan vehemently disagrees and wants her daughters to have financial as well as emotional support while they study hard and prepare for careers in the “real world.”
Holidays, visits and phone calls with their daughters are usually tense and even argumentative. Joan is afraid Sam is driving their children away and Sam fears their daughters will never make their own way in the world.
Needless to say, outside of sailing, Joan and Sam’s relationship is growing more distant and disconnected.
Check your own course.
When your relationship seems stuck in a place you never wanted to go, it’s time for a course correction. During difficult times, it might be easier to look to your partner as the primary (or sole) source of the problems between you two.
“After all,” Joan might think to herself, “it is Sam who is being so stubborn and extreme.” As tempting as it may be to blame your mate for the disconnection between you, make a different choice!
Rather than searching for which one of you is the problem or the stubborn one, take time to check in with yourself. Think back to a recent conversation with your love that turned into an argument and try to remember how you felt as the conversation escalated.
Do your shoulders tend to tense up? Do knots form in your stomach? Recognize the body signals that you are feeling triggered. Maybe there are specific thoughts that come to you when conflict is revving up.
Sam often thinks to himself that Joan doesn’t respect him or his ideas. “She always rejects what I have to say,” he might believe. When you begin to notice that your course change doesn’t feel good, you can make corrections and shift it.
Take the lead.
Once you realize you are shutting down during communication with your partner, you are in a wonderful position! You can now consciously decide what you want to do next.
As painful as it is to feel misunderstood or rejected, it can be empowering to remember you have choices. You don’t have to play out the same arguments with your mate over and over again. You can take the lead and be the one taking steps toward opening up rather than closing down even more.
You may want to ask your love to give you a few minutes to clear your head before continuing to talk.
During that time, breathe deeply and dismiss from your mind all of those disempowering thoughts. You don’t need them! Instead, assure yourself that a loving, connecting resolution is possible.
It can also be helpful to ask yourself what this conflict is really about for you. Getting down to your core feelings can help you more easily see what you truly want.
While there are no guarantees that your partner will follow your lead and make the course corrections you have, you will probably feel more ease.
You also aren’t contributing to the argument the way you were before which can only help. Ultimately, as you get more in touch with how you are feeling and what you want, you can more effectively and lovingly communicate.
For more information on how to get your communication back on course, visit http://www.StopTalkingonEggshells.com