Shift from Fighting to Intimacy

This week I’m inviting you to take the most important challenge ever for your relationship…
I am going to invite you to take special care of the relationship with your partner–if you have one.  And if you are not in a committed relationship, this is a technique you can use when you do get into a relationship.  Or if you have close family relationships in which your buttons get pushed, this information will be very helpful for you.

So if you’ve been in a deep, loving relationship you know already that sometimes buttons get pushed.  It‘s a fact that when we are in an intimate, loving relationship, our we get triggered, and the more deep, loving and amazing the relationship is, the more intensely we are triggered.  To be “triggered” means that some issue in our subconscious is activated which puts us into fight-flight mode.  Thus we react unconsciously, and often afterwards we feel that we were not in control.  We literally react as though we are fighting for our lives.  

When this kind of fighting happens, many people begin to second guess the whole relationship.  But here’s the deal:  it’s actually natural and normal to be triggered when you love someone.  And again, the deeper the love, the more intense the triggering can be.  What this means is more potential for fighting and thus destroying the love.

Being deeply in love and in relationship with another person is so powerful that we come face to face with our own issues. Usually when we get triggered, what has happened has little to do with what’s actually happening now and everything to do with something that happened before you were five years old. That’s why our subconscious is triggered, because these events are not stored in our conscious memory.  Remember that these events aren’t necessarily traumatic in and of themselves–although many are.  Sometimes it’s just that to a child they were traumatic.  For example, Daddy gets a new job and suddenly begins leaving each Sunday afternoon to go out of town to work and comes home on Fridays.   This is not traumatic in and of itself to to a four year old who is used to being with Daddy every night, it can be traumatic and leave the child feeling abandoned by her father, a feeling which can then be triggered by her partners in later years.  No one–even in the best of circumstances–makes it through childhood unscathed.  So we all have “stuff” that can be “triggered.”

In a new relationship, the disagreements that trigger our old stuff usually begin to occur fairly quickly after the glow of new love wears off.  These disagreements usually lead to some form of fighting and the pattern will continue throughout the relationship at varying intervals–unless some strategies are implemented to prevent the disagreements from leading to fighting.  Some couples fight more, some less, but only on rare occasion is there a healthy, strong love relationship where there is no triggering–thus no conflict.

Most people either lose the relationship because they don’t know how to deal with conflict and fighting.  Or even more sad, they stay in the relationship but numb out and no longer feel the intimate emotional or sexual connection they did in the beginning.  Some people I’ve coached say that they never fight anymore.  But they know not to bring up this or try to talk about that.  Avoidance with your partner is no better than fighting; in fact, it’s a sign that one or both partners have checked out emotionally and are no longer invested in the relationship, at least with their whole hearts.  As issues are not discussed and resolved, doors close and more doors close, and ultimately, the relationship dies.

The good news is that conflict can be used to bring more intimacy in the relationship.  There are techniques that will actually help you to work through the conflict and then become closer and feel more connected as a result.  I am going to share one powerful technique and invite you to use this technique every time you get triggered–or your partner does–for the next 30 days.  Let this be a test and if it works for you, you can use it every time.

So here’s the technique:
Once one person is upset-either you or your partner–take a moment to STOP right there.  Once both people are upset, it’s more challenging to STOP.  Once the subconscious issues are triggered for both partners, it’s very dangerous territory.  Then the unconscious reactions take over and you’re both fighting for your lives.  This is when things can get frighteningly ugly and people say things they regret.  Over time, this kind of fighting will kill the love.  Fighting brings a lot of negative memories into the psyche regarding the other person and the love can begin to diminish.

It’s a good idea to talk with your partner about this process and have them agree to it with you.  You can do it yourself, but it will work better if your partner understands it also and you both agree to some ground rules.  And here are the ground rules.

Let the first sign of upset be like a signal of danger and a STOP sign.  Tell your partner that if either of you gets upset, you are both going to STOP talking and take three deep breaths together.

If there is one person who is NOT upset (yet– it’s only a matter of time.  If one person is triggered and things continue, the other gets triggered, too) that person should very gently say, “Okay, let’s stop for a moment and take three deep breaths together.”  Then literally breath in unison with each other.

Now, one person should decide they will HOLD THE SPACE for the other.  If there is one person who was not upset yet, let this person do this first.  In HOLDING SPACE, you will agree to do nothing but LISTEN to your partner.  Let him/her get out what they were feeling upset about.  Agree in advance to only use “I” statements.  Not, “You don’t  do this; you always do that.”  Instead, “I was feeling as though I’m not important to you because I told you about this important event I needed you to attend and you scheduled something else.”  It’s the listeners job to just listen and not respond or interrupt while their partner is talking.

Now the listener says, “I get it.  I understand you and what you’re upset about.”  There is no defending or arguing.  Just hear your partner and accept what they are feeling and ask, “What do you need now?  This lets your partner know that they are important to you and their feelings count.

You change the entire dynamic by holding space while your partner expresses themselves in a safe (and actually sacred) space, and then communicating that you “got it” –and will take it seriously –which is obvious in your question: “what do you need?” This will bring you and your partner to a higher and more sophisticated level of dealing with your upsets than most people ever experience in their relationships.

5)  Now AFTER this is resolved, if the partner who was the listener needs to express their feelings, the roles are reversed.  The other person HOLDS THE SPACE and the same process is followed.

If you “make a deal” with your partner to use this process of holding space with each other — and each of you gets to have your turn expressing without blaming, it will change everything for you.

But remember: Only one trigger at a time. Hold Space. Do the few minutes of work together.  And enjoy the rewards of deeper intimacy that comes with both you and your partner being heard and feeling resolved.

How would your relationship (or future relationship) be different if upsets that used to trigger “huge fights” can now become two people taking turns expressing themselves, and doing a little bit of work for a payoff of deeper intimacy and love?

I invite you to find out!

Love and blessings,

Pamela

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