Relationships can be the most exciting and the most challenging aspects of our lives. The degree to which humans enjoy relationships varies, with some people seeming to enjoy isolation. Whether you are socially anxious or vivacious, outgoing and bubbly, there is something here to help you understand how you relate to others.
Relationships can truly bring feelings of ecstasy; but they can also make us want to kill each other. Whether you’re hot under the collar or hot in the bedroom, often depends on how you deal with conflict.
We just can’t stop arguing
If your relationships with the world and with yourself are maintained in tip-top condition, other relationships will flourish.
Lack of love is just how you feel; it’s never real, because love is pure positive energy. All matter consists of a balance of positive and negative energy, you can’t lack love any more than you can lack skin and bone; Nevertheless we all feel unloved at times.
Some people fear conflict, particularly if there was a lot of conflict in their parents’ relationship. Others fear abandonment, especially if they’ve been abandoned before.
We often work with bereaved children. For those bereaved as children, the naturally occurring fear of loss can cause defensiveness.
Many people have obsessions about relationships. Are your thoughts about a partner helpful? Would it help to work on your thoughts with someone who has been through the same thing?
Try not to think of people as either good or bad for you. Life is a blend of positive and negative, and the same is true of people.
Relationships aren’t either right or wrong; they go well sometimes, and they go badly at other times. There is middle ground, and you can find it, together or apart.
Conflict will occur in every relationship. Your partner doesn’t have to agree with your every opinion or choice, but they can still love and support you. It’s ok to argue.
When you’re not arguing, it is a good idea to sit down and agree some rules for conflict times.
It’s cruel to say things like “Well maybe we should just finish it”, or “Why don’t you just walk away, then?”, during conflict, even if that’s what you feel at the time. It’s normal to feel that way, but unkind to say it.
How realistic is it, to agree not to shout in an argument? Not very, probably … but you can agree to ban certain words, not to mention each other’s parents … all sorts of agreements can be made about your arguing technique.
It helps to form a relationship game plan – what is ok in a disagreement and what will never be acceptable to you? Remind yourself not to criticise the other person, and if you can find something to validate, praise them. Show that you are doing this not just for you, but for them too, because you never want to hurt your partner.
My argument game plan has a complete embargo on bringing up the past, labelling or name-calling. We have to stay on the subject we started about, or write down the next topic and put it in our fights bag, for next time. Sometimes we even take a topic from the fights bag for fun! This helps me to see that confrontation doesn’t kill, and it’s better to live with an hour of heated argument than a lifetime of things which are not as you want them.
Using your partner’s emotional sensitivity against them, is totally unacceptable, as is using something confided in confidence when you felt good about each other.
Try not to opt for premature closure of conflict, with “I can’t cope with this conversation” or “That’s it, I’m closing the subject now.”
Try to stay calm, if you can, and avoid words like ‘always’ and ‘never’, which come from the Child within you. Try to stay in Adult and not lean towards Child (it’s-not-fair!) or controlling parent (you-really-should…)
Mid-argument, try to set your feelings aside and really HEAR your partner’s feelings. Repeat what they just said, saying “So you’re saying ….”. Often if they’re very angry, they might have said something they didn’t mean and this will give them an opportunity to reply “Well, what I meant was …”
Ideally, nobody should walk out in the middle of an argument, but exceptions can be made according to each individual’s personality, so that you both feel safe. Perhaps you can agree a signal for ‘time-out’ and both go to pre-arranged zones for a cool-off time. Promise in advance to accept the other’s signal, regardless.
Feed in some positive statements like “I don’t agree with you, but I do love you.” And whatever you do, don’t fall in the trap of “I love you when you’re angry!” because that’s when the pots and pans are about to start flying, without the aid of a poltergeist!
Taking a bath together is a great bonding experience – just not with your boss!
A long term relationship becomes a delicate dynamic balance of control and vulnerability: Struggles arise when one person sticks too far to one side of that dynamic.