“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is an often quoted line from the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that unfortunately also describes a way that many people live their lives.
While we know that sometimes you get into situations you’d rather not be in…
…And it may be helpful to look at these situations and realize (as a coping tool) that if something doesn’t kill you, it may make you stronger…
We’re not sure that’s the best way to go through life.
We’ll explain because…
This is especially true in our intimate relationships after the first rush of intense attraction– or the “honeymoon period”– starts wearing off.
This is when those differences that never seemed to bother us before start bothering us big time.
Arguments and fights can happen next because we’re so wanting things to be the way they used to be (or even better) and we think that if our partner can see our point of view–everything will be okay.
Well, it usually doesn’t work that way.
In fact, it can just get worse because you each get in a groove and keep repeating the same argument over and over–with the same result.
But it doesn’t have to be this way and it doesn’t have to end up with one person giving in to the other’s way.
If you don’t see eye to eye with your partner or anyone else who’s close to you and it ends up in an argument or fight, you’re certainly not alone.
The two of us have had our share of misunderstandings and arguments and they might have gone on and on but we learned a few things.
One of those is how to avoid conflicts (or at least when they come up, how to get resolution and re-connected more quickly).
Here’s our story…
In the first years of our marriage and life as business partners, we struggled with how to deal with finances– even though we were soul mates and very deeply connected.
Otto has always been a “spender-type” and Susie, a “saver-type”–and we’ve certainly driven each other crazy over this one big difference over the years!
One particular big problem was over the word “budget.”
You start a business–you create a budget–right?
That was according to Susie who had been the library director at a university for a number of years and was used to creating and working with budgets.
But not to Otto.
He would get really upset, feel restricted and angry– even when the word was spoken and our spender/saver difference seemed to really get out of control.
It wasn’t until Otto looked at why he was so triggered by the word and told Susie about it that we started to soften around this issue.
He had worked as an ad/sales representative for radio stations for many years and budget to him meant that someone on high was dictating to him what he could and couldn’t do. Budget meant restriction.
When Susie could understand where Otto was coming from and when Otto could understand how a budget that he helped to create could be useful, we could get on the same page with the idea.
The important shift for us came when Otto realized that a budget could be a guideline for success and when Susie realized that what Otto really wanted was the freedom to create and expand our business in powerful ways.
We started listening to each other and could actually appreciate where we each were coming from–and stay open to new possibilities.
We decided not to use the word “budget” (we used “plan” instead). And then after several years, Otto realized that the word “budget” didn’t have a charge for him anymore.
And we actually began working together to create our finances the way we wanted them to be.
For this to work, we had to give up our pre-conceived notions of how it “should” be or how it was in our previous lives.
We had to start from scratch to finally understand one another and move forward together.
What we learned became the basis for our “Stop Talking on Eggshells” and “Magic Relationship Words” book and audio programs that have become so popular.
In your relationship, if there’s an issue that comes up again and again, take the time and gather the courage to get out of your destructive groove.
Stop what you’ve been doing and saying and start all over in your mind.
Pretend you have had your mind swept of all previous thoughts around this topic and start over.
Start over and listen to each other–not a regurgitation of your favorite argument but rather talk about your motivation and feelings.
Of course you each need to take some time to identify exactly what the feeling is underneath your strong belief and stand.
Otto had to get to his feeling of restriction and be willing to share it with Susie in order for us to understand one another.
Susie had to be willing to not get defensive but just listen.
This is incredibly powerful and it works.
Both of you need to do this and if your partner isn’t interested, try it anyway.
If your partner wants to keep holding on to being right and is emotionally abusive, it may be time to consider if this relationship is one you want to stay in.
If you need some help to clarify your situation, or knowing whether to say or go–check out our “Should you stay or should you go?” program at www.StayorGo.com
As always, if you are being physically abused, get help and leave now. After you are safe, you can find out if he is willing to get help and if things can change.
Arguments and fights don’t have to come between the two of you.
And you certainly don’t have to use them to make you “strong” as Nietzsche said.
You can be joyful and loving in your relationships–and still learn to be strong.