Remember, confrontation is about reconciliation and awareness, not judgement or anger.”
― Dale Partridge
“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” John Lennon
Do you seem to keep having more and more conflicts over things that upon reflection don’t matter that much? What is behind this unproductive way to grow strong and effective partner relations?
Self-Reflection: Your dad was right counting to ten or twenty is a good idea when an argument starts escalating. By getting rid of pinches – yes, this is really important. How do we do that? This is where time release conversations come in. Dr. John Gottman’s research on how the “Masters of Relationships” manage conflict, indicates that 70% of couples problems are perpetual, ongoing issues and unresolved over the years. These problems are related to differences in personalities, styles of interaction or preferred ways of doing things, learned habits, poor listening and problem solving skills, trigger words, inability to actively listen, low tolerance for differences and so on that set your mind off on the wrong path. The “masters of communication” seem to have developed a way to deal with these irritants in their relationship by having open and constructive conversations every once in a while about the same issues that inevitably show up again and again. They talk about how and why these issues are bothersome at this time; how they feel about the issues; what their concerns, feelings and hopes are about these sticky issues (usually about topics such as sex, money and family relationships) and what they want to have happen and what an effective resolution looks like. They learn to develop new mindsets and emotional filters on how they perceive the issues and how they can collaboratively solve these problems with their partner.
Self-Coaching Challenge: I believe that pinches in relationships of any sort are signs that we need to stop and re-kindle or establish more effective ways to communicate. If your relationship has a lot of pinches, think of the pinches as a sign that you and your partner’s need to “clear the air” on this subject and something needs to be talked about and dealt with in a productive and caring way. Research shows that out of conflict and with caring, respectful conversations opportunities for greater closeness and understanding can be developed. Understanding what the real causes of a relationship pinch provides time and means of going beyond the surface to discover how the pinch impacts each other and what it really means to each individual. Timely and caring conversations can provide an important path to preventing relationship erosion and go a long way for renewal and re-establishment greater openness and closeness.
This weekend take your own relationship audit and identify one issue or recurring problem you would like to work on and resolve with your partner. Then sit down and have a caring confrontation over a pinch that has been bothering and build a plan to move forward. Good Luck and remember no one cares what you have to say until you show them you care.