Have you ever daydreamed about having a “magic wand” that you could just wave about and have people do exactly what you want?
I’m guessing that like most of us, having access to such a wand would make life significantly simpler and less stressful especially in our intimate relationships.
That being said, a bit of the proverbial good news/bad news is applicable let’s start with the not so good news that you already know…
The sad unmistakable truth is that a magic wand has yet to be developed and is still only relegated to make believe and fairy tales.
The good news is that we have a few steps that can assist in bridging the communication gap when conflict arises and poses enormous challenges between you and your partner.
Just in the manner that a magic wand will never exist, no intimate relationship will ever be immune to conflict. We know from our own experience that “pain is inevitable and suffering is optional” as Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami so aptly proclaims.
Let’s examine the 4 Steps and see where they can be incorporated into your relationship today.
Step 1. Take A Pause for the Cause… Your Relationship. Dana often reminds me of the “pause” that separates us as humans from our friends in the animal kingdom. Simply put, we have the unique characteristic to take a personal time out before reacting. This is especially true in our intimate relationships when it’s easy to sometimes let our emotions get the best of us. All of us are guilty of reacting to something said or done and then immediately lashing out and making hurtful emotionally charged statements that are not always easy to take back.
The “Pause” whether just a moment, an hour, or a day provides the opportunity to allow the initial energy of the situation or comments subside in order to gather your thoughts and then respond from a place of peace instead of conflict.
Step 2. Let go of being right and choose being happy. This is one of the most simplistic in theory and yet one of the most challenging to actually adopt into our daily lives. We instinctively know that no one is perfect and yet we sometimes hold ourselves and our partners to this unrealistic ideal that’s simply never attainable. It’s this attachment to perfection that causes immeasurable and needless suffering. This step is certainly not about sweeping relationship challenges under the rug or remaining silent until the “final straw” that breaks the proverbial camels back has occurred. Instead, it’s finding the gratitude and gift in any given situation and where we accept the lesson that resides to finally be addressed fully and learned. More often than not, miscommunication is the real culprit when conflict arises between couples. This is where clarity and context can more times than not begin to solve whatever issues have arisen.
Step 3. Know you and your partners Love Style. We highly recommend Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages Quiz. We’ve added this to our annual Relationship Check-Up conversation and are ardent believers of the power of knowing your love style and that of your partner. It’s this knowing that provides access to proactive behaviors that a couple can incorporate into their daily lives that reduces relationship conflict before it even starts.
Step 4. Learn the Art of Conversation. We are not born communicators. Communication is a learned skill and as the Dalai Lama points out, “Dialogue is the most effective way of resolving conflict.” The key is understanding that dialogue is synonymous with “conversation” and not necessarily communication. The two are often thought to be the same but they are radically different. Communication is often our “telling” someone what we think. In relation to conflict, this can often place the one receiving the telling into flight or fight mode. Conversation on the other hand takes the importance of “listening” first and responding second. It’s the exchange of words between a couple from a non-threatening and non-confrontational standpoint that allows for healthy dialogue to replace defensive posturing.
In the end, all of us desire to be heard and acknowledged. Intimacy requires remarkable trust that we earn when our words and actions are congruent. When we show up for our partner in not just the big ways, but in the small ones that often are more powerful and lasting.
Conflict can certainly be avoided by following these steps but can never be eliminated nor should it be from our intimate relationships. Conflict can pose a healthy tension for “stability” and “desire” to cohabitate in our relationships when framed properly.
Follow the 4 Steps and turn conflict into conversation to open a new doorway into greater intimacy to further connect and enhance your relationship.