Phil: When we were writing the newsletter last week, Maude complained that I was irritated and impatient. I wasn’t fully conscious of that until she pointed it out. A lot of the technical aspects – for example, photo production – are in my domain, and sometimes I feel the weight of these and other responsibilities.
We talked, and the conclusion was that obligations like that are a form of control, of ensuring that things are done the way I like, and that Maude, being a perfectly competent person, could take them over and would do them her own different way. Plus, of course, we both understand that Maude contributes to our life together in other ways that cannot be directly compared. There is no exchange rate. We each support the relationship in our own way.
But we want to write this week not about the conversation, but about how we talked. My initial reaction was to ask for time to go to the farmers market so I could mull over what caused my impatience, but I realized that was an avoidance response (fight, flight or freeze), so we sat down to talk about it.
Despite my being a conflict-averse person, this is not a hard thing for me to do, because neither of us bring hostility to the table. We each trust in the benevolence of the other and trust that we will find a mutual understanding. We do this by talking honestly in the first person. It generates empathy and changes our understanding, and by the end creates a wonderful sense of intimacy.
We have had this experience so many times now that my tendency to conflict avoidance is silenced by the trust I have in a solution that leaves both of us feeling really good and close.
We have written elsewhere in detail about this process that we use, but I want to emphasize here something that we find is really important, even though the reason is not clear: keep in physical contact. Hold hands, link arms, rub shoulders, touch knees; whatever it is, it has a transformative effect on the conversation. I hypothesize that billions of years of evolution have created a body language that soothes and calms and speaks of cooperation, a language that has no words yet contributes enormously to the conversation.
So my closing injunction obviously has to be “Keep in touch” and you should leave a comment below!
Impatience? Irritation? How do you deal with them? Such feelings don’t have to escalate #marriage Click To TweetMaude: Impatience? Irritation? What is going on here?
That’s what I was asking myself the other day as we sat down to get our newsletter finished and ready to send out. Phil seemed to be annoyed and in a hurry, and was responding in a short clipped manner without his usual loving responsiveness.
I wasn’t having any of it! This is not how we relate to each other. I mentioned my confusion and dislike for the energy, and said it didn’t feel good or right.
A general call for exploring what was happening was put out and we retired to the living room to find out. This blog is not so much about what was happening in that particular incident, but more to the point, how we handled it and what we experienced as a result. On this day, we sat together on the couch holding hands and leaning into each other. We talked and shared and wound up feeling closer and more intimate than we had at the beginning of the conversation.
Often couples handle a feeling of distance or disharmony with avoidance and conflict. We find it important to recognize this is not the way to respond.
In order to have a different approach, you need to be able to call on trust; trust in the other person, trust that you both want and can find a mutual solution. The very act of coming together from this understanding creates an intimacy between you and draws you naturally closer. You are both consciously entering a place where you know each of you wants the same thing. The sense of separation or discord seems to naturally dissipate.
Something which seems very simple, but that we have found has profound consequences, is to come into physical contact while seeking mutuality. There is a soothing, calming sense of connection that occurs almost instantly which really changes the entire dynamic.
We have outlined Our Process for finding those mutual answers and you can read further on that in our most recent book and in several of our blogs. Suffice it to say that the usual techniques of good communication like speaking from the “I”, using active listening, non-accusatory language and not making lists are all helpful to finding your mutuality.
The key in these situations is to recognize your priorities quickly and address them. Are you aware you are out of sync with your partner? Is that something you want to continue, or is that just reflective of something else going on? Is it your priority to have a peaceful, loving relationship without estrangements? Are you really in too big a hurry to take time to clarify with your partner and reconnect when necessary? Do you want to cause your partner distress and are you aware that you are doing so? If you feel treated in a manner that doesn’t reflect your relationship, do you stop and confidently bring it to your partner’s attention?
These are just some examples of how you can apply awareness to behaviors within your relationship and keep them aligned with what you both truly want.