So the smoke has cleared from the fight with a person you love. You’ve lived through the energy of a fight, you’ve opened your heart during the fight, and you’ve stopped the fight in its tracks. (And if you haven’t done those things, click on those links and learn how!)
Peace reigns once more, and everyone’s on speaking terms. You’re out of the woods, right? Nope. Not yet. You’re close though. But let’s talk Preventative Care here. How do we grow and learn from our disagreements, become better partners and better people? How do we build emotional safety in our relationship?
Well, we can start to construct a foundation for how to argue in the future. The goal is for those heightened arguments and periods of disconnect to grow shorter and less tense.
How do we do that exactly? Be a scientist. Then, be a therapist. Then, be a teacher.
I know. That sounds hard. But it’s not. At least it doesn’t have to be. Let me explain.
Step 1: Understand The Events.
Be a Scientist.
Analyze. Analzye. Analyze. Leave the feelings out for now.
You’ve already ran the gamut of feelings and processed those through. That’s the hard part. Now, either alone or with your loved one, start to replay the disconnect and try to understand what happened. When did you feel your heart starting to shut down and fear set in? When did the panic that you may not be loved or loveable set in? Identify the word or phrase that you heard or didn’t hear, the physical gesture or lack thereof that caused you to filter your energy through your power center or solar plexus instead of your heart.
Step 2: Identify What You Needed (and will need in the future).
Be a Therapist.
Discern what you needed to feel safe during the argument. What would have helped you stay in your heart space rather than shutting down?
For example, you may want your partner to hug you or hold your hand or come nearer to you. You may need your partner to listen to you before interrupting. You may prefer that your partner repeat what you’re saying in his/her own words to ensure that he/she is accurately hearing you. You may need a ten-minute period of quiet time in the midst of an argument so that you can regroup your thoughts.
Step 3: Help Your Partner Learn to Love You Better.
Be a Teacher.
Share what you’ve discovered through delving into the replay of the argument. Share what set you off, how you interpreted what was said or not said, done or not done. Share it in first person. Hint: If you’re saying a lot of sentences that start with “You,” you need to regroup. The statements should be “I” focused. Example: I felt this way when this happened. I thought you meant this when you said this.
And then come the juiciest bits. Let your partner know what you need when another argument or disconnect happens. Teach your partner how to keep your heart safe when you’re afraid.
When we consciously learn how to argue with our loved ones, we start to build intimacy. Intimacy is that lovely feeling of being fully understood, accepted, and loved by someone. It’s like having your differences and vulnerabilities wrapped in the most beautiful bubble wrap, labeled fragile, and handled with the delicate touches typically reserved for newborns.
When we take the time to understand ourselves through our reactions and fears, and then share that with our partner or loved ones, they can understand us better too. That creates emotional safety.
And don’t we all want to be more understood and feel safe?