Can you avoid conflict in your relationship? Absolutely! And we don’t mean avoid as in ducking out of the room when it looms. No, we’re talking about negotiating differences without descending into recriminations, counter-attacks, hostility, hurt feelings and battle scars. We never go there, and you don’t have to, either.
We have a process which we use to make decisions, solve problems and create mutual solutions. You too can apply this in your relationship, and the more you do it, the easier and the more enjoyable it will become.
Set The Scene
When breaking patterns and forming new ones, it helps to be aware of all aspects of what you are doing and to bring your own presence and consciousness with you to the experience. When you and your partner have a decision to make or a problem to solve, approach it with a sense of adventure. This is going to be something different than you are used to doing. The two of you are on the same side and are looking to find a creative answer together.
Start by choosing a time and place that allows for a relaxed exchange. (That rules out breakfast time before work!) Make sure you are both comfortable and that you won’t be interrupted or hurried so you can give each other and what you are doing your full attention. “Start out by holding hands or being in physical contact, and proclaim to each other that you are on the same side and are looking for a place of mutual agreement. Relax, empty your minds of everything and prepare to enjoy yourselves!”
Communication is to relationship what breathing is to maintaining life. Virginia Satir
Fully share your thoughts and feelings to the issue, speaking one at a time. Practice active listening. This means paying full attention to what your partner is saying, and to their body language too. Do not be preparing your answers in your head while your partner is talking. Pay attention and truly hear what your mate is saying. It’s a great opportunity for a deeper sense of intimacy and getting to know each other even better.
Be very careful with your language. Avoid using the finger pointing “you” and speak from your “I”. Don’t say “You closed the window”, say “I’m feeling hot.” When you are sharing about yourself, and not making accusations, each of you will be able to relax and trust that you are working together toward a solution.
Statements which begin “You never” or “You always” are usually ones that generate far more heat than they do illumination. The actual difficulties cannot be clarified when they are being buried under a slag heap of wide-ranging, irrelevant denunciations. Maggie Scarf
Don’t criticize each other’s sharing. Just listen and learn. You are both involved in a process which will bring forth unexpected new resolutions. Trust the process and stay open. As you continue to share, you will find that something new and unexpected begins to happen: other solutions, ideas and possibilities begin to appear. These are not ideas or positions that come from just one of you. They are something different that emerges from your joint selves, from your union.
Take your time. Don’t try to rush toward a final outcome. Enjoy the time together talking, listening and being heard. Enjoy being accepted and not criticized. It feels so good to remember and experience that you are truly on the same side. Keep open to discovery, without pushing for being right or wanting a specific forgone conclusion.Can you avoid conflict in your relationship? Absolutely! #quote #relationships #marriage #dating Click To Tweet
Trust the Process
When first practicing this process, you or your partner may falter, but that’s OK; the other person can help keep things on track. If you find yourself getting defensive, argumentative, or losing that feeling of connection with your partner, remember this is something you both want. Speak about how you are feeling without blaming. Reiterate to each other that it is your belief and intention to find mutual solutions. Gentle physical contact and facing and looking at each other always helps. “Even though you might not see it yet, believe a result is possible, and that the two of you want to reach it together.”
Expect the Unexpected
“The results of this process are quite surprising, and you will discover a real sense of pleasure at tackling the issue together. As ideas, viewpoints and feelings are exchanged between the two of you, the results go way beyond either of your original concepts, and you will reach a place that works for both of you that neither of you imagined initially. It is not a product of compromise, but rather something your openness and acceptance of each other has created. You may have changed your position as a result of this process, but you have not been forced to give anything up.
“After using this approach on a few problems, you get a feel for it. Literally. A sense of delight and intimacy arises when you find a mutual solution. Your positive experiences accumulate and bring with them assurance and peace, combined with the knowledge that acting in union you can find answers and resolutions that are far more than either of you have conceived of alone.
“This style is something that can be cultivated. Seek for the positive and come from love. It feels and works so much better than manipulation, force, pressuring, anger, self-righteousness, control or separation. Most of all, it is important to remember that this is not some hard, heavy struggle. You are playing: sharing your individual selves while actively co-creating the “we.” This is a dance you are doing together; make it light and make it joyful. We wish you much delight as you experience this process and the surprising transformation it brings.”
This post is a rephrasing and summary of a chapter called Our Process in our latest book “How Two: Have a Successful Relationship”. Quotations within the text are all directly from that chapter. For a more in-depth understanding of this process, get our book from Amazon.