What keeps you stuck in a fight?
You know the experience, you start a conversation to get on the same page with your partner about the housework, the kids, the plans for the day.
And before long…
“That’s not what I said!”
“You always take things the wrong way!”
“I never get what I want in these conversations!”
“I always have to be the one to take care of things!”
“You don’t listen!”
And you are stuck going around and around, restating what you have said multiple times, clarifying what you meant to say, and watching as you both get more and more frustrated and defeated.
It is so easy to go from a calm conversation into a circular, escalated fight. You had a simple request that turned into a big fight or one where you don’t even remember what you started talking about.
And the truth is these conversations go so poorly exactly BECAUSE we are not clear what we are really having trouble with.
Did you know that every time a conversation goes poorly it is because we do not realize and address the real issues upsetting us?
Think about that: You are talking about the laundry, what to have for dinner, who does more for whom, and then you are in an unpleasant and upsetting argument. But EVERY time this happens, the real issue causing that fight is something else entirely.
The real reason driving each of these fights is the emotion, the meaning, and experience we are each having about the laundry, our sex life, and our financial life.
In a disagreement about laundry, the struggle can be about feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. It can be about feeling a lack of autonomy. It can be about feeling taken for granted.
We get stuck and go ten cycles of who folds more laundry because we never talk together about what we need to talk about.
We assume our partner understands what we are trying to say, what we need, want, or how we feel. They assume we know the same.
And yet, despite being smart and capable and insightful, we miss this stuff ANY time we are having an unproductive fight.
Listening to what your partner is telling you about their experience is the key to getting through pointless, unsuccessful fights.
These underlying conversations get glossed over OR weaponized rather than as the place for meaning and connection. We miss the opportunity to learn and create permanent resolution because we have not found a way to talk about what is happening in a way that puts us on the same side of the struggle and into meaning and connection.
Learning to get underneath those infuriating struggles and get together to understand and support each other is easier than you think. There is a process to help you create this powerful connection and healing.
Below is the step-by-step process to lead you through it. Head to my Instagram to have me walk you through it with a video about each step over the next several days.
Take time and go through each step focusing on creating connection and understanding.
Create some time together free from distractions. Choose a time when you both are feeling energized, engaged, and committed to the health of your relationship.
Create a shared goal of what topic is most pressing to create this change
Take time to listen to your partner and ask the questions that get to your partner's real experience and needs, taking turns to each fully listen to your partner, free from your own opinions and experiences.
Reflect and ask questions to make sure you fully understand your partner and that they feel fully heard.
Switch places and work to share your feelings and experiences with care, to create the best possibility for your partner to hear and understand you.
Once you both feel heard and understood, talk together about what you have learned about each other and the meanings underneath this struggle.
Based on that learning, create goals and agreements about the topic moving forward.
Identify the tools you need to repeat this process the next time the topic comes up.
Thank each other and commit to repeating this process with the next topic that comes up.
Taking the time to go through this process when you aren’t angry or upset about the topic is critical to bringing cooperation, engagement, and care to the process. Doing so creates the atmosphere of collaboration needed to solve your challenges for good.
If this sounds daunting, or if you try this and struggle, reach out! I am offering a workshop to walk couples through this process, so they have the support and guidance to ensure the permanent resolution of these struggles.
Offered both in Seattle or over Zoom, there is an opportunity for different learning needs to learn this process. Sign up here. Hurry, there are limited spots for both workshop options!