3 min read
There are times in relationships when it feels like all you ever do is argue.
It may have started with a big blow-up that never really got resolved, but then, it’s everything. All of a sudden the thermostat being set at 23 degrees instead of 22.5 has led to screaming and bags being packed.
We’ve all been there… I’ve been there. It seems impossible to shake the feeling that the most important person in your life is for some reason trying to punish you, ruining your day, week, or even month. When you become this upset, your thoughts can be so irrational you may begin to think, "She turned that up just to sweat me out," or, "She knew I was feeling hot today." Conversations quickly escalate or you may have stopped talking altogether. You know you don’t want to live like this, but you’re at a loss. If enough time has passed, you are likely convinced you have tried everything, therefore the problem cannot be you. It’s them! It’s their fault and they need to change.
This thought is a seductive one. The idea that in a relationship sometimes it’s just the other person's fault and therefore things remain stuck until they address their problem is a very appealing one. It absolves us from any personal responsibility and the discomfort that arises when we need to change.
The problem with this approach is that if both parties are thinking this way there can be no resolution, no compromise. Instead, the conflict continues and resentment builds.
It may be that with time the situation will calm and things will return to normal, but in the absence of resolution there is no progress. Without progress the issue simmers. When the next argument arises (and it will) it’s as though no time has passed and quickly things can revert back to the original hurt with both people quickly reaching their boiling points. The intensity of the conflict reinforces the feelings of resentment, and in some cases we being to question the relationship itself.
So now what? How do we move from where we are to where we want to be? Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
1. Don’t apologize if you don’t mean it.
2. Don’t agree to change something you have no intention of changing.
3. Don’t bully your partner with threats or ultimatums. (It probably doesn’t work for you so why would it work for them?)
1. Try to shift your focus from your partner to yourself.
2. Take a moment to consider how you feel and what you want (be mindful).
3. Honestly ask yourself, "Do I want this relationship to work?" If no, check out my post on how to make a big decision. If yes, see #4.
4. Conduct an honest self-inventory: What’s going on for me right now? Am I under any extra stress? Am I sleeping, eating, and taking care of myself? How are these things impacting my ability to compromise and work things out?
Now, I hear you, those of you who are shaking your head and feel that I have misunderstood. It’s not about me, you’re shouting. Well, you’re not completely wrong. Your partner has the same responsibility to the relationship; first, to the common goal of making the relationship work, second, to practicing mindful reflection and compromise. Managing conflict in this way is not easy. It requires a lot of effort, dedication and practice. If you would like some support or are not sure where to begin, give me a call and I can help.