Sometimes you can learn a lot about love and how to shift relationship conflict by learning from someone else’s “mistakes” or gaining wisdom from someone else’s shifts in thinking.
This is one of those times.
Jack and Pam were at a crossroads in their relationship.
He was tired of the misunderstandings that seemed to crop up with his partner Pam and that he never seemed to do anything “right” anymore according to her.
Pam felt like she never said or did anything “right” anymore either and she was just tired of the constant irritation and fighting.
Neither of them knew how to navigate through their conflicts, especially with love and kindness so they came to us.
Once we started talking, they soon realized that blaming each other and trying to prove how right they each were wasn’t going to get them where they wanted to go.
And where they both agreed they wanted to go was a deeper connection and back to the love they had once felt for one another.
Like a lot of couples (including us in our previous marriages), they had fallen into the trap of taking each other for granted and forgetting how to treat each other with love and care.
As we talked about what treating each other with “love and care” might mean to each of them, here are a few aha’s they had about how to shift relationship conflict…
1. Not instantly making the other person wrong
Both Jack and Pam realized that there was an almost instant flinch negative reaction to most anything the other said or did.
For whatever reason, it had somehow become a habit to criticize the other and to make him or her wrong.
As we talked, they could see that that was not who they were or even wanted to be and that it was a habit that they could break.
They saw that if they allowed some space between the supposed “trigger” and their response, they could make a kinder, more loving choice that just living on auto-pilot.
2. Listening and being open to hearing the other’s point of view
Pam said that she’d quit listening to Jack a long time ago and seemed to spend her mental time while he was talking making sure she got her points across, constantly interrupting him.
Jack told us that he’d quit listening to Pam and usually tuned her out because he never seemed to be right or good enough so why bother.
They both realized that if they gave each other the attention they wanted and stayed present, without interrupting, they could then decide what’s best in the situation without taking sides.
We all crave to feel important to the people we love and one of the most obvious ways you can show that is by your attention.
You can ask questions if you don’t understand and you can find out more about your beloved than you already knew.
Listening and opening to hearing the other’s point of view doesn’t mean you agree.
It means you are showing love and care that’s essential for a healthy relationship.
3. Forgetting what their love means to them
Like so many couples, Jack and Pam had lost track of what their love and relationship meant to them.
They came to realize that they didn’t have to go through life believing all the negative stores and assumptions their minds made up about the other’s motivations.
They saw that they could actually have discussions without accusations when they allowed their thoughts to settle and they got calm.
They felt moments of love as they talked and started reacting differently to each other.
They were on the path to so much more love between them.
Jack and Pam aren’t real people but their relationship is a composite of many of the couples we’ve coached.
If you’re in a similar situation where you’re trying to shift relationship conflict, ask yourself this question…
What does love and care look like to you?
Then go and be that and see what happens.