The Ideal Relationship — What’s it look like? Have you ever been in one? When I’ve asked clients, they’ve said things like:
We’re deeply connected.
We stay open to one another.
We never fight.
Notice the last statement. Do you know couples who never fight? Does anyone come to mind? Likely not.
How about we change that last statement to “we navigate conflict well?” How does that change your perspective?
Conflict happens in all relationships. The biggest question is, how do we deal with it? What if the ideal relationship is not “conflict-free” but “conflict-resilient?” What does that look like?
It looks like this.
I trust you to stay in the fire with me when things get tough. I trust you to hold your own upset and speak your truth to me respectfully when you’ve cooled off. I trust you to hear my side of things.
Trust. Yes, conflict is all about trust. When we deal with conflict poorly, trust diminishes. When we navigate conflict well, trust increases. It’s that simple.
The real opportunity in conflict is how you and your partner can feel closer than ever afterwards. To build confidence that you can deal with hard stuff, without attacking, blaming, checking out, or numbing. What would that be like?
As I said in my last blog — 4 Relational Conflict Styles – Which One Are You? – the ideal partner does not fix, blame, or abdicate. Instead, they take responsibility, deal with their hurt feelings and then focus on repair, not the damage.
Here’s a simple process to put repair into action.
But first, before I give you the goods, I want to say this. To repair after conflict, give up needing to be right. Give up having to prove anything. Get over needing to be justified. That’s staying in the damage. That’s an adolescent perspective.
An adult, on the other hand, shows up fully to listen, hold their response, and hear their partner. That fosters connection and repair.
I once heard it said – In this life, do you want to be right or do you want to be loved?
So, here’s the short version of how to repair. Maybe you’ve done this already. But… can you do it consistently?
1. The first person speaking has the floor for 5 or 10 minutes, whatever is agreed on; set a timer and use an object to show who has the floor. Only the person with the object may talk. The other person is focused only on listening. For the person speaking, speak about your feelings. Use “I” statements (no “you did”.) Speak to essence, not story, as you have limited time and the clock is ticking.
2. When the timer goes off, the person listening speaks back what they heard said, in their own words. No responding or reacting. Your only job is to show that you fully heard your partner. That’s it. When you’re done, you ask, “Did I get everything?”
3. When you’re done, pause and take a breath. Switch who speaks and who listens.
4. Remember, no problem solving, no focusing on who’s right and who’s wrong. This is about practicing relational consciousness (“we” not “me”).
5. Notice Hooks & Triggers. Notice where you get fired up. Breathe, tell yourself you’re ok, love yourself, get present again. It’s your issue, don’t project it onto your partner.
That’s it, super simple. And yet often being guided by a relationship coach is a great way to build this into your relationship.
And remember, as we get better at repair with our partner, we cultivate a deeper trust. A trust based on a proven track record to get through hard stuff. We trust in each other’s strength to stay in the fire when conflict happens.
Originally Published on stuartmotola.com