Love

There's Only 2 Critical Tips For Fighting Fair In Relationships

Photo: InesBazdar / Shutterstock
couple standing back to back

When your significant other does or says something that upsets you — depending on the size of the affront and the depth of your reaction — you might shut down and stop listening, especially if your partner's tone conveys judgment or derision.

You may withdraw for a period of time or retaliate with criticism of your own. Either behavior results in a negative circle of energy and delays understanding and healing. 

As a result of your shutting down, your suffering will be prolonged. Conscious awareness of the impact of your anger is your best bet for breaking the cycle.

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Here are 2 tips for fighting fair in intimate relationships

1. Cool off

Wait until your "heat" has died down. You will then be able to think on a rational and self-reflective level. This process should result in you being able to say to yourself something like, "I got triggered by what my spouse said and went into an old place in which I felt abandoned and powerless and wanted to strike out and inflict the kind of pain I experienced."

You should also say, "Since I actually love my partner, I don't want him or her to experience this level of distress so what I will come back with will be a reasoned illumination of what has happened inside of me, what I surmise has happened inside of my partner, and between us."

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2. Allow time to heal

When you're ready, begin a healing process. This may take a few minutes or days.

When you're finally ready, begin with an invitation to heal such as the following: "I'd like to talk with you about what happened between us recently that caused such upset." Once you have the green light to have the discussion, make sure that your review of the events is delivered without a derisive tone, without judgment, and with the spirit of reconciliation, respect and friendship.

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All of this boils down to absorbing and utilizing the concept of emotional intelligence. The concept goes to answer the question, "What is going on with my partner right now?" This is what psychologists refer to as having an Internal Working Model of another person. The regular use of emotional intelligence has the power to lift us out of our primary preoccupation with ourselves and to invest in "the other." 

All by itself, the application of this attitude has the power to repair ruptures caused by activations of the red zone, or the primitive part of the brain. As you employ this approach to healing more regularly, your relationship will develop a sense of its own unique history, providing reassurance that it has the strength to weather storms and emerge stronger than before.

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Dr. John Gerson is an experienced clinical psychologist. He helps his clients explore their core issues and move toward a healthy, fulfilling life.

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