When the two of you have a difference of opinion–or just don’t seem to be speaking the same language, what happens?
One (or both) of you usually gets mad, you fight, you feel hurt and you withdraw into stony silence.
One (or both of you) may pick at the other about all kinds of small things (the way he chews his food; the way she watches the Lifetime channel when you want to watch something else) and you can get really mean in your attacks. In other words, you have a full-blown fight that lasts for days, weeks, months or years.
So why do we shut down to each other and fight with each other?
Here are a few reasons…
- Fear—of getting hurt again and being made a fool of
- Some triggering event that we can’t forget
- Punishment for when we’ve been hurt in the past
- Protection against perceived future pain
- We don’t understand that other person, the situation or even how or why he/she is reacting to it the way they are
Here’s what we know to be true…
There will always be conflict and partners who love one another will always close to one another because you’re looking at two different desire systems. We think something needs to be changed or different in the other person—and the other person thinks that something needs to be changed or different in us.
Here’s the way intimate relationships usually work…
Romantic love ends or starts to fade away when there’s a commitment and the power struggle begins. This power struggle comes from our differences which translate into past experiences, habits, and looking at life in one way. Both people have different unconscious expectations and neither one talks about what those expectations are.
What happens is usually one or both adopt coping strategies for dealing with power struggles–We close to each other and withdraw; we start leading separate lives; we immerse ourselves in workaholism; we stop looking for excuses for being together. Withdrawing from each other becomes a habit or a rut.
If this is happening in your relationship, how can you begin to open to each other…
The truth is that someone has to take first step—to be the fire starter— and open first. Here are 3 ways to start the ball rolling toward the love and intimacy that you want…
1. Start listening to the way you talk to your partner and stop yourself if you get caught up in blame and drama.
We all get caught up in blame and drama but when it becomes a habit, stop yourself and become an invitation instead. Speak with an invitation of openness and authenticity rather than being accusatory.
Here’s a good example of what we’re talking about from our Magic Relationship Words program…
“I’d like to spend more time with you”— instead of this– “We never do anything together anymore and you never talk to me.”
Ask yourself—Would how I’m acting make me feel safe or feel like I could or would want to open to me?
2. Give positive attention—maybe the way you used to.
Of course we all change and are not same people we were when we were first together as a couple. But probably there’s something that you once did with each other that you no longer do. It might be something as simple as a smile when your partner comes home.
3. Don’t be afraid to say what’s true for you in a way your partner can hear.
Know that you deserve to be heard and your honesty just may open conversation that leads to resolution and closeness. When you stay with what’s true for you and what you feel, instead of pointing your finger at your partner, just may wake your partner up to what the real issue is for you and its impact on you.
We’ve seen it many times where deep intimacy is created when one person is willing to be vulnerable and just say what emotion he or she is feeling.
Something like this…
“I’m feeling really sad right now because…” is far better than “Why did you do this?”
There are ways to get that closeness and intimacy back that you once had and these are 3 ways to do that. Take a moment now and decide if you want to keep doing what’s not working or if you want to try something new that will bring you more of what you want.