Love is inherent in conflicts. But not every way to resolve them is constructive.
Now my team and I offers exercises that will help improve relations with a partner.
Save them and perform them every week as homework.
After 8 weeks you will see the result.
- Learn to notice why you are getting out of yourself this or that situation, watch your feelings: what hurts you, makes you angry. Try to trace the “boiling” point.
- In a quarrel, there is a time when the conflict goes beyond what is permissible and grows into rudeness and insults. Learn to not bring the quarrel to this point.
- The key to resolving any conflict is to understand the partner’s feelings. Try to put yourself in his place, listen to what is hurting him.
The eight training “How better to quarrel”
Issues of upbringing.
In every respect, there are sore points, the discussion of which leads to unchanged conflicts.
At the same time, the dispute is even useful and forms part of the relationship, because without conflicts there is no development. But in the culture of the couple’s quarrel, there is much work to do to reduce conflicts or resolve them more constructively.
Many quarrel in an aggressive way, which hurts both partners, or stuck in recurring discussions. Replace this behavior model with the productive one.
Do a short job every week, with which you will learn to recognize certain phases of quarrels and develop the ability to feel dangerous moments in communicating with a partner. After 8 weeks you will see the result.
Problem: annoying topics in a relationship
Why do not you ever close your toothpaste? Why did you put your glass on the dishwasher, instead of immediately removing it there? Why do you leave your things everywhere?
Each pair has such themes. However, there are also situations in which an explosion occurs. Stress, overwork and lack of time are typical triggers for friction. At such moments, communication is reduced to a verbal skirmish, as in the film “Groundhog Day”, ie. Plays the same scenario.
Scroll in your head for a typical day or, if you do not live together, a week / month. Trace, when there are quarrels: in the morning with the whole family, when everyone is somewhere in a hurry? Or on Sunday, when after the weekend you again “part” on weekdays? Or is it a trip in the car? Watch this and be honest with yourself. Most pairs are familiar with such typical situations.
Think about what exactly are experiencing stress in quarreling and how you can fix it. Sometimes a simple way helps – to plan more time to deliberately organize the transition from one to another or think over farewell (instead of quarreling each time). To what conclusion you would come, just try it. Talk to your partner about what he feels in such annoying situations, and think together about what you both want to change.
Important : this task is a kind of warm-up exercise. Who could recognize the situations fraught with quarrels, most likely, does not know why he is so angry or that he is so hurt. Nevertheless, changing a pair of external situational variables is a step that will help to soften recurring conflicts.
Problem: why am I so angry?
Now we’ll figure out why in certain situations you react particularly keenly. Remember the question from the previous week? It was about a situation that often causes a quarrel. Let’s watch your feelings at this moment and learn how to curb them. After understanding why you lose your temper or take offense, you can express your emotions differently.
Take a piece of paper and a pen. Imagine a typical quarrel situation and take the position of the internal observer: what happens at this moment within you? What annoys you, angers, why are you offended?
Most often, the cause of anger and conflict is that we are not noticed, not taken seriously, we feel used or insignificant. Try to formulate as clearly as possible in two or three sentences that you are hurt.
Important : it is possible that the partner really harasses you or does not notice. But maybe your feeling is deceiving you. If you came to the conclusion that the partner did not do anything wrong, but you still get angry with him, ask yourself: How do I know this situation? (A) I have experienced something similar in my life? This question is an “additional task”. If you feel that the answer is positive, try to remember or grope this situation.
During this week, try to understand why you react so sharply to a particular topic or a certain behavior of a partner. If it comes to quarrel again, try to stay calm and watch yourself and your feelings. This exercise is not easy, but it will help you to realize much. (During the training, you will still have the opportunity to tell the partner that you do not like it, until you are in a hurry with the accusations.)
Problem: I can not say “stop” in time
In quarreling, things often come to a critical point, from which the conflict erupts. To identify this point and then to interrupt the dispute is difficult. However, this stop can help break the habitual model. And although, stopping the quarrel, it is impossible to resolve the differences, at least, it will avoid meaningless insults.
If this week again there will be nagging or argument, watch yourself. Ask yourself: where is the point at which a stormy discussion turns into a real quarrel? When does it become rough? This moment you will know by what you feel uncomfortable.
Try at this moment to interrupt your dispute by telling yourself “stop.” And after that tell the partner that in this place you would like to stop the quarrel. Choose for this, for example, the following words: “I do not like this anymore, please, let’s stop.”
If you are already on the verge of a breakdown, you can also say: “I’m on the verge, I do not want to continue the argument in this tone. I’ll go out for a while, but I’ll be back soon. ” Such interruptions are difficult and some people seem to be a weakness, although this is a sign of strength.
Tip: If your relationships are many years old, often you both know where the point at which the most bad behavior begins in a quarrel. Then talk to each other about it, give a quarrel a name, invent some code word that will be a stop signal. For example, “tornado”, “tomato salad” – when one of you says this, both try to stop the quarrel.
Problem: power struggle in relations
Usually for any conflict, not more than half an hour is enough. (More on this – in exercises 5 and 6 weeks). But many quarrels often last much longer. Why? Because they are turning into a power struggle, one wants to dominate or control a partner, which is impossible and undesirable in relations.
This task will help you understand what you are really trying to achieve: do you want to receive an answer to a question? Clarify something? Or be right / right and win?
Read these two sentences:
- “My partner should change as follows: …”
- “My partner is to blame for this, because …”
Finish these proposals in writing and see how many demands and reproaches you make to your partner. If there are a lot of them, it is very likely that you want to change the partner according to your ideas. And maybe provoke long quarrels, because you want to reverse the course of things. Or use a quarrel as a kind of “revenge” for the insults that were committed earlier.
If you now realized this, you took the first step. The second step of the training is to devote this week to the topic “power and control” and respond (preferably in writing) to the following super 5 questions:
- Is it important for me to have the last word for me?
- Is it difficult for me to apologize?
- Do I want my partner to change radically?
- How objective am I (objective) in assessing my share of responsibility in this situation?
- Can I go to meet someone else, even if he offended me?
If you honestly answer, you will quickly understand whether the topic of the struggle for power is close to you or not. If you feel that this is the main problem, learn more about this topic, read, for example, books about it or discuss it with your friends. Only after the struggle for power is at least slightly relaxed, the training will work.
The problem: “You do not understand me!”
Many hardly listen to each other. And during a quarrel this is even more difficult. However, the desire to understand what is happening inside another can help in emotionally charged situations. How to reduce the intensity by means of empathy?
The analysis of the issue with the partner is preceded by a kind of phase of clarification and observation. The task is not to respond in a dispute with a replica to a cue, but to ask yourself what is happening in the soul of your partner. In a quarrel, few are genuinely interested in the experiences of an opponent. But this kind of empathy can be trained.
In the quarrels this week, concentrate on how to listen to your partner as attentively as possible. Try to understand his situation and his position. Ask him if he does not like it. Ask what does not give him peace. Encourage him to talk more about himself, to speak out.
Such “active listening” gives the partner the opportunity to express himself more openly, to feel understanding and to be ready for cooperation. Train this kind of communication from time to time throughout this week (including with other people with whom you have conflicts). And watch whether the front “warms up” from this.
- Advice: there are people with very developed empathy, always ready to listen. However, in love they often behave differently: because they are too emotionally involved, they can not afford to give the other the opportunity to express themselves in the conflict. Ask yourself if this applies to you. If you really are the one who always empathizes, maybe even concedes, concentrate on the communication strategies with which you will get acquainted next week.
The problem: remember everything. Start gradually!
If you lay out during a quarrel all the claims that have accumulated over the years, this will lead to bitterness and frustration. It is better to identify one small problem and talk about it.
Before you start a conversation with a partner, think about what kind of conflict you would like to talk about and what really needs to change or what you would like to see other partner behavior or another form of relationship. Try to formulate a specific proposal, for example: “I want us to do more together”. Or: “I want you to talk to me if you have any problems at work”, or “I want you to clean up your apartment one or two hours a week.”
If you start a conversation with a partner with such a proposal, you will need to consider three things:
Recollect and realize again the advice to “learn to listen” from last week and check whether you have included the phase of active listening before the phase of clarification. Those who are serious about the hearing, sometimes there are not so many problems at the stage of clarification.
Be persistent in your desire, but show nonetheless understanding. Say, for example: “I know that you do not have much time, but I want us to do a little more together.” Or: “I know that you do not like to wash dishes, but we can find a compromise, because I want you too to take part in cleaning the apartment.” Keeping a friendly tone when using this technique, you will achieve that the partner at least understands that you are important to these issues.
Careful with soft “I-messages”! Even if the proposals “I want …” correspond to the already familiar strategy, which says that in the case it is necessary to say “I-messages”, do not overdo it. Otherwise, it will seem to the partner as fake or too distant.
It is important to really confine yourself to one question. After all, next week you will be able to discuss the following specific problem.
Problem: it will never change
Opposites attract, or two boots – a pair, – which of these two types can you give a better prediction for a love relationship? Studies say: similar partners have more chances. Some family therapists believe that about 90% of the conflicts in the pair are due to the fact that the partners have little in common and they can not balance their differences. Since one can not change the other, he must accept it as he is. Therefore, we will learn to accept the “cockroaches” and “weaknesses” of the partner.
Step one: focus on one quality of the partner, which you do not like, but with which he will not part. Laxity, introversion, pedantry, stinginess – these are stable qualities. Now try to imagine what will happen if you make peace with this quality and say to yourself: here it is, and it will not change. With this thought, people often experience not frustration, but relief.
Step two: think about how to solve the problems arising from this together. If one of you is slovenly, the housekeeper might be the solution. If the partner is too closed, show generosity, if he does not tell much – maybe it’s worth asking a couple more questions. Exercise acceptance is one of the main components of family therapy. This ability can be decisive in order to experience more joy and intimacy in a relationship in which there have been violent scandals before.
Problem: I can not immediately quit the quarrel
In the eighth, the last part of the training, we’ll talk about how to reconnect with each other after the conflict. Many are afraid of quarrels, because they feel they are detached from their partner in conflicts.
And indeed, even quarrels that were jointly stopped by the stop signal or in which understanding was achieved lead to a certain distance. Agree on some ritual of reconciliation, which will end the quarrel and which will help you to get closer again.
Think together with the partner, what ritual of reconciliation will affect both of you is beneficial and will seem consonant with your relationship. It should not be too pretentious. Some people are helped by a physical contact – a long hug, for example. Or a joint listening to music, or a tea party. It is important that both of you, even if at first it seems artificial, each time turned to the same ritual. This will make it easier and easier to take the first step towards reconciliation and you will soon feel how closeness is restored.
Of course, we are not talking about the need to begin to follow all the advice at once.
Choose yourself two or three different tasks that you like most, and try to follow these tips in conflict situations.