Figuring out how to communicate with your spouse and feel heard in times of conflict can be challenging. Passions run high and you probably both know exactly how to press one another’s buttons. But do you know how to hear each other and bring the conflict to a close?
When I work with couples I often help them to really listen to what their mate is saying. We all know how to talk, so it might sound funny that a couple would need a professional to help them hear, but that is sometimes what is needed.
All of us complain about something. “It’s too hot!” I’m cold.” Some of us complain to another. “Turn off the light.” “Why didn’t you remember to call?” These phrases are how most of us communicate our discomfort with our mate. We feel a discomfort and we speak about it right away.
We learn this habit when we are small. That’s how we were taught to understand ourselves. We learn what works and what doesn’t. Then we tell someone what isn’t working. If you think about it, you can hear this kind of talking in just about every situation you find yourself in; work, school, family, friends, and relationships.
I was thinking about what it takes to believe in a relationship. You know, where you don’t wonder “will my relationship last?” and you just have a sense that life is good and you are happy with your person. Maybe you don’t doubt as much.
So as I was thinking about this I was wondering how I know that my relationship is good. And the word that kept coming to me was belief. I believe it is. I feel it inside me and I don’t question it. My belief isn’t brick solid, it’s more fluid than that. I remember it most of the time. But there are times I feel unloved and terrible and during those times I can’t remember to believe.
I was thinking of being little recently and I recalled the image of me and my younger brother. I was about 10 years old and he was about 7. We were pulling at opposite ends of our dog, a dachshund. It was something we did every night before we went to bed. One of us would begin the fight and say, “I get to sleep with him tonight! You slept with him last night.” The other would answer, “No, you slept with him last night it’s my turn.” And then the pushing and pulling would begin.
This went on night after night. I can’t remember how it ended or if I ever felt like I won. I just remember this is what we did. And when I recalled the memory recently I thought, “That’s love. That’s the chaos of love.”