How often have you remained engaged in a conflict with your partner, sometimes for hours, only to finally disengage, cool off in your corners, reconnect from a completely different space and resolve the conflict in less than three minutes? It's happened at least two hundred times in my marriage. But over the last several years, both my husband and I have become much better at the skill of taking a pause. (for us, this usually means walking away to create some physical space until one of us can re-open) The moment either of us senses that rise in tension, the tell-tale sign of tight lips, the slight shift in tone that indicates that someone has become defensive or reactive, one of us walks away. And when we come back with openness and accountability, we speak directly to the heart of the issue and resolve it within minutes. 5 Secrets Of Happily Married Couples
Leila lays out her steps to conflict resolution beautifully and clearly in the interview. Here's an abbreviated version of what we discussed:
1. Notice when you're triggered. Pay close attention to your tell-tale signs. Leila also offers three concrete steps for handling the trigger in the Premarital E-Course.
2. Lovingly disengage by saying, "I'm feeling triggered right now and I need a few minutes." If you notice that your partner is triggered, find a way to lovingly disengage by saying something like, "I don't think it's a good time to talk about this. Let's take a pause." And if you can't find the words because you're too triggered, just walk away without saying anything. It's better than engaging in a conversation that will inevitably escalate into an argument.
Again, as Leila points out, disengaging doesn't always mean walking away. You can pause in the conversation and say, "I need a few minutes," then take a few deep breaths, feel your feet, notice how your body feels and practice mindfulness.
3. Shift back to a resourced state or, what Leila says, practice Shape-Shifting. When we're unresourced, we tend to say or do things that are damaging and that we don't really mean. But, when you can nourish yourself and come back to your center, you will be able to open your heart and take responsibility. Ideas for shape-shifting: take five deep breaths, drink a cup of tea, call a friend, journal, dance, take a walk or a run or practice mindfulness.
4. Come back to your partner and communicate with responsibility about your part of the conflict. Leila offers simple and effective communication skills in the course for this part of the repair process.