Learn How to End Recurring Conflicts in Your Relationships

Learn How to End Recurring Conflicts in Your RelationshipsWhen you’re in the middle of an argument or power struggle, conflict resolution is often counter-intuitive – what you should do is often the exact OPPOSITE of what you feel the most compelled to do in the moment.

The good news is, there are specific skills you can learn to dismantle arguments and help overcome power struggles in your relationships.

Instead of repeating old destructive relationship patterns, you can learn how to end recurring conflict so that the trust is restored between the two of you – so you can safely connect with each other in a way that brings you CLOSER.

These Conscious Communication Skills work in ALL of your relationships in your life, not just in romantic relationships. Here’s the first one:

Ask Vs. Tell

Unless your intent is starting a fight, when you’re sharing something with your partner, it’s best to stay away from any kind of communication that TELLS them what to do or how to be.

For example, it’s best to remove any statement starting with “you should…” from your vocabulary, because it often comes across as a covert attack. Even if you don’t mean it that way or you’re just trying to be helpful, it immediately puts your partner in the defensive mode.

Instead, try asking questions that begin with “how” or “what.” Asking “how” or “what” questions can completely change the tone of a conversation. This works in all communication.

Rather than saying, “You should really do __________…” try, “How can I support you in getting this done?” or “What can we do to fix this?”

The first statement is likely to get a defensive response, while the second two statements come across as supporting, as though you’re facing the problem as a team.

You’ll want to steer away from “why” questions as well - because unless you’re genuinely interested, they can cause your partner to feel interrogated.

Questions such as, “Why haven’t you washed the dishes yet?” or “Why aren’t you ready to leave yet?” can also lead to defensiveness, and what you want to do is remove that defensiveness.

If you want to discover the true motivation behind your partner’s words, actions, or feelings – instead of asking, “Why are you feeling that way?” try something like, “Would you be willing to share with me why you’re feeling that way?” Instead of causing your partner to become defensive, you’re now working WITH them.

Own vs. Divert

When we’re feeling defensive, we tend to want to divert blame away from ourselves, and often onto our partner. Even if we’re in the wrong, we can still do this because our brains are hardwired to want to be “right.”

When we’re diverting the blame, we often use sentences starting with “you.” This is the verbal equivalent of pointing the blame directly at the other person.

Statements such as, “You drive me crazy” or “You make me so angry when you do that” will cause your partner to immediately go on the defensive.

The way to stop diverting is to start connecting with and OWNING your experience. Instead of saying, “You make me so angry when you do that” – try simply saying, “I feel angry right now.”

When you take responsibility for what you’re experiencing in the moment, you can get the same message across without making your partner responsible for your feelings.

It may sound simple, but this is one of the most challenging communication skills for people to learn – it’s counter-intuitive to the way that our brains are wired.

When you take the time to get in touch with what you’re feeling and share your experience in the moment, your partner can actually HEAR you and will be much less likely to get defensive. This is essential to opening the lines of communication.

And Vs. But

“But” is a powerful word. When you say the word “but” – you basically negate everything you said right before it.

For example, when you say things like, “I love you but I need some time to myself right now” what your partner actually hears is, “I don’t really love you.”

“I love you AND I need some time to myself right now” is much softer, and it doesn’t negate the fact that you love them.

These skills take some practice, and they can really change your relationship and your life when you learn how to use them correctly!



Five Ways that Guarantee Emotional Connection when Romance Fails

Five Ways that Guarantee Emotional Connection when Romance FailsAfter hours of work preparing your partner’s favorite gourmet food and dressing up in sexy clothes, your heart beats a little faster as you hear his key in the door. Your skin tingles as you put your arms around him. But in an instant, your heart sinks. He barely makes eye contact. He gives you a perfunctory kiss, tells you he is exhausted after a tough meeting at work, and proceeds to pour himself a large drink.

Disappointed that your partner didn’t notice the enticing aromas from the kitchen, or the music that you both called your ‘special songs’, you try and engage him again with tasty hors d’oeuvres. He nibbles on a few appetizers and makes small talk. You are desperate for him to hold you, and tell you how much he missed you that day.  You want him to notice the effort you made to look alluring and create a romantic atmosphere. But he is focused on how much he enjoys his drink, leaving you feeling invisible.  You sit really close and start caressing him, but he remains impervious to all your romantic gestures.

Feeling disheartened, you try to please him by putting the finishing touches to the meal that you have slaved over most of the day. After all, they say that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!’ Perhaps if he is excited about the cheese soufflé and the beef casserole in red wine that you both swooned over on your honeymoon in Paris, he might appreciate you and want to get close.

Anger and fear choke you as you spoon the casserole into your mouth. Your partner enjoys the food and thanks you, but he isn’t lit up with desire for you. What have you done wrong? What did you miss out? Has he gone off you? Does he have a mistress? These are the questions that plague you as you try to keep your hope alive while serving that chocolate mousse dessert that he raves over. He is enthusiastic and has second helpings. Yet with each mouthful he savors, your bile rises. You can’t believe that all the trouble you took and all the hours you spent looking forward to this romantic evening have crumbled before your heartbroken eyes.

Why doesn’t romancing your partner get you the closeness you want?

Your partner can’t be emotionally intimate with your hair do, perfume or sexy clothes. He can’t be close to your food, or your music. These things actually come between you and your partner. Sexy clothes, romantic music and great meals become substitutes for you the person. If you get your partner to focus on these outward appearances and actions, then he can’t reach you, or make a connection with you as a person. He can’t share himself with you, and he can’t reach you because the emphasis is on food, music, or physical appearance.

So what’s the difference between romance and emotional intimacy?

Romance is making your partner feel attractive, special and desirable for short periods of time by spoiling them. It usually means putting on an act to create a certain image that you can’t sustain. You hide much of yourself in an effort to look, sound and feel perfect.

Emotional intimacy is about sharing your authentic self – good and bad. The connection you make with your partner is based on the actual moment-to-moment experience you both have. It’s a genuine exchange of experience without having to censor, sweeten, or otherwise spin it to get a particular outcome. You and your partner can then have a pure, clean connection based on complete openness and acceptance. There is nothing more precious or satisfying.

So how can you entice him to be emotionally close?

  1. Tell him how you feel when you meet at the end of the day. Being open with him, invites him to be open with you. He doesn’t have to pretend if you don’t. He doesn’t have to go through the rituals that returning home after work entail, and nor do you. Living the moment as it is rather than through an ideal lens, means you are emotionally intimate and connected. No hiding, no game playing – instead you both have more energy to tune into each other.
  2. Spend time with him, instead of being busy doing things that you think he might like. When you give him yourself, unencumbered, he will want to reciprocate. You can’t be emotionally close if your mind is on making sure the food is not burned! If your priority is on making the perfect meal then you are telling him that his stomach is more important to you than his feelings and your connection as a couple.
  3. Take his emotional temperature and give him space to let out whatever is on his mind. You get to know exactly where he’s at, so you can join him. Be curious about what he feels and he will be interested in what’s going on for you. When both of you have shared where you are at in the moment, you both have more room for one another. Then both of you can feel safe enough to share doubts, worries and fears, the most intimate of all experiences.For example, your partner might reveal his fears about your reaction to something earlier in the day when he says, “I’m worried that you might be angry with me for not listening to you this morning when you mentioned the weekend plans.” Then you can let him know that you felt annoyed at having to take care of the details alone, and so the conversation flows, allowing you to get deeper into each other, in ways that foster healthy emotional closeness.
  4. Acknowledge and accept the tiniest compliments and subtle praise that your partner offers. Don’t brush it off as if it was nothing, or respond in a way that makes it a low priority. If he says, “Let’s sit together for a while before dinner,” hear it as him valuing your presence, and respond in kind. Avoid talking about the food getting spoiled or all the chores that need doing.
  5. Invite your partner to share activities with you. Put the emphasis on the companionship and closeness rather than on duty or expectation.  It’s sharing the most mundane of daily activities like putting the dishes away or pruning bushes in the garden that gives the message that you put togetherness over trying to impress and get something in return. Share memories of what these chores bring up for you. As you do, you weave strong threads of intimacy that belong to you the couple.   When romance doesn’t satisfy your longing for emotional closeness these reliable moments of connection will sustain you.