Couples who engage in verbal or physical abuse need to either get help on both an individual and relationship level or leave the relationship. Ongoing verbal and physical abuse takes a huge toll on everyone.
This article is not about abusive fights—it's about the regular run-of-the mill fights in which each person gets angry and gripes at their partner. Often, the issue that they are upset about doesn't even have much importance. In fact, the next day, they often can't even remember what they were fighting about! One partner may have been triggered into irritation, which triggered their partner, leading to a fight that the two can't remember a reason for. Often the underlying issue is about control—one wanting to control the other and the other not wanting to be controlled. While the presenting issue may be about time or money or parenting or sex or chores or messiness, the underlying issue of control may still ultimately be at fault.
This article is not about the fight itself, either. It's about how you get over fights and back into loving connection with your partner.
What do you do after a fight?
• Do you shut down, withdrawing your love to punish your partner?
• Do you sulk and act miserable?
• Do you keep sniping at your partner, letting him or her know you are still angry?
• Do you insist on an apology?
• Do you keep trying to get your partner to understand your point of view?
• Do you try to 'process' with your partner to get them to take responsibility for their end of the fight?
• Do you continue to blame your partner for your feelings?
If you do any of these things, then you are continuing to try to control your partner, using various manipulations to get him her to change.
Reconnecting After a Fight
None of the above choices will lead to loving reconnection. Loving reconnection occurs when you:
• Do your own inner work after the fight to see what triggered you and how you would rather have handled the situation.
• Stay disengaged until you are able to open your heart to your partner.
• Let go of the insistence that your partner must apologize or own their end of the conflict.
• Stop trying to 'process' the conflict until the two of you are open to learning with yourselves and with each other. Even then, the processing needs to be about yourself, rather than about your partner.
• When your partner shares his or her learning, accept it with compassion and caring.
• When you realize that the issue you were fighting over is not important, decide to just let the whole thing go and reach out with warmth.
It might seem contrary to creating a loving relationship to just let it go, but actually this is often what creates the reconnection necessary to be able to talk about it lovingly at another time.
"But," you might be thinking, "is it loving to myself to just let it go? Aren't I allowing my partner to treat me badly by letting it go?"
The truth is that you have no control over whether your partner treats you badly. If your partner is treating you badly, the best thing you can do is learn how to take loving care of yourself in the face of the negative treatment, rather than trying to get your partner to change. People often treat us the way we treat ourselves; rather than focusing on how your partner is treating you, why not focus on how you are treating yourself?
When you focus on being loving to yourself, not taking the things your partner says in anger personally, and not trying to control or change your partner, you will find that it is easy to get over fights and lovingly reconnect. Moving into compassion for your feelings and allowing them to move through you will let you keep your heart open and reconnect with your partner, when he or she is also open.
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