You had a fight with your loved one. You are disconnected and hurt. How do you get back to a place of connection?
It does not feel good, one bit, to have a fight with your sweetheart. This is a process that is intended to help talk about the incident without getting back into the fight itself. It is more about understanding what took place and how to make it better. And how to get that feeling of connection back.
Some of the foundation pieces to have in place before you start this process would be the following:
- You and your loved one are no longer in place of feeling escalated or highly upset.
- You both are feeling calm and can look at the incident with a bit of distance.
- You can put the incident outside of yourself and really look at it as if it is on a stage before you.
- You both acknowledge the GOAL is to understand HOW things took place.
- You start with both knowing you each have your own separate “reality” of what happened. It is about perception, not facts.
- You stay away from CRITICISM, DEFENSIVENESS, CONTEMPT, and STONEWALLING as you talk about what happened.
- You choose to speak from the position of “I feel . . ” opposed to “You never …” language.
Your Way Back to Feeling Connected.
- Talk about how you felt. This is not about why or about what you think your partner felt.Take turns with how you each felt.
- Share what was going on for you – YOUR Reality. You each have a turn to do this. As one of you finishes sharing his or her reality, the other’s job is to reflect back what the general summation is of what they hear the other is trying to get across. This is not a time to attack or blame. Just tell what you needed in a positive way, beginning with “I needed . . . “
- Tell about anything that this discussion triggered for you. Help your loved understand what this conversation set off as far as memories for you. Each of you take time to think and share anything that your fight brought up for you. Let each other know if you understand.
- Be responsible by acknowledging any thing that you did that fueled the fight. This may not feel easy to do, but it sets a tone of accountability on both sides. Let each other know how you were set up for things to go the way they did. Example: “I have been sensitive lately.” or “I am over whelmed with all of our financial problems right now.” Tell your loved one what you regret and feel you need to apologize for. Let each other know if there is anything you still need to be able to let the incident go.
- Create a pro-active plan for what to do next time. Each share one thing they will do. Writing your plan down can be helpful and give a concrete feel that you have accomplished something toward making things better
It may not always look as step by step as mentioned above, but if you can better understand how the other is feeling and be willing to take responsibility for your part (and there are always two parts) and end with a plan of something you each can do, this will take you a long way to understanding one another and re-connecting. And isn’t that what a good relationship is about – understanding one another and feeling a wonderful sense of connection. I think so. Best wishes for your “after a fight” conversation.
Source: Bridging the Couple Chasm. Gottman Couples Therapy: A Research – Based Approach. By John Gottman, PhD and Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D