It's 3 am
Your partner is asleep on the couch. You just got done having the same fight for the third time this month about bills, sex, in laws or kitty litter. You cannot sleep because you are replaying the fight over and over. Sound familiar? Read on.
Our relationship with our partner is neurologically the safest and most dangerous relationship we engage in. Both. at the same time. Its the safest because we are often our truest selves in the context of these relationships. I mean, who else knows your secret cereal habits? It is also the most dangerous because when the possibility of loss of the relationship comes up, it threatens our survival. Or at least, that can be how our brain and body reacts to it.
We need connection to survive and procreation is how our species survives. Biologically and evolutionarily, this is why we form these partnerships. Therefore, their level of importance in our lives is no surprise. Here is the thing, when we fight or there is a potential loss of the relationship, our body gives off survival signals. These signals can turn a rational loving adult into a dog fighting over a bone. Perhaps you have seen this in some of your conflicts with your partner?
How do we continue to resolve conflicts with our partner from the rational loving adult place and not the dog with a bone place? Here are some tips for dealing with feelings during a fight:
Cool off- take a break from the discussion and set a time for you both to come back with communication prepared. Don’t spend this time stewing-move that body and nourish that spirit. Take the time to do something replenishing and life giving so you can gain some clarity on the situation.
Communicate from love and not fear- There is a difference between guarding things that are important out of self love than out of scarcity or protection. A good way to test your motivation is to ask yourself if there is an expectation attached. If you are hoping that your communication will change your partner and not you, you are most likely not coming from love.
Make the implicit explicit. Say what you need. Out loud. With words. Clearly. If you expect the dishes to be done by 9pm on Tuesday evening. Say that. A simple “can you do the dishes” is not enough.
I know that these are big tasks. More on them later. For now, know that conflict is inevitable in a relationship that involves humans.
***Disclaimer: This blog post is solely the opinion of the author. It is not a substitute for mental health services nor does it constitute a professional relationship. If you are seeking mental health services, please contact a therapist in your area. If you are experiencing and emergency, please dial 911***