Five Tips for
Fighting Fair in Relationship
- Raphaella Vaisseau
1. DIFFERENT PICTURES - Sometimes a misunderstanding is simply a result of each having a different “picture” of what you thought it was going to look like (“it” could be the day, the agreement, the future, the love, etc.). When you notice disappointment (i.e., an appointment missed), before making your partner wrong, first check in with yourself about your own expectations in the situation. Step back and ask yourself, “What was my picture of what was going to happen?” “How is that different from what took place?” Share the pictures and the information with each other in an open forum. Let go of your picture so you can see your partner’s picture with an understanding heart. That way, you can learn how each other thinks, and, as you become more and more skilled at doing this, you will start to check in ahead of time what pictures are being created at the time you’re having a conversation, making plans, and/or making agreements.
2. BUTTONS – We all have “buttons” from childhood or from times in our past when things have not gone as we thought they would. They are as real as a button on an elevator. At a time when you felt hurt, disappointment, betrayed, etc. when you were too young or inexperienced to cope with the feelings and may not have understood what happened, the experience registers in your subconscious as an injury, mistake or simply as “bad” and a “button” is created. (You might say to yourself, “I’ll NEVER do that again” or “I’ll NEVER let that happen to me again.”) Later, when your “buttons” are pushed, if you are unaware that’s what they are, you return to the “floor” you were on when you had the initial experience and often your reaction in present time is as if you were still in that same old place. You are, in effect, five years old (or however old you were) and you act out the emotion from this little child place. However, now you are no longer a child. You are an adult and have more choices available to you. When you understand the process, you can teach your inner child how not get your buttons pushed, and/or, when your buttons do get pushed, teach your inner child how to respond from a grown up place.
3. NO SHAME, NO BLAME – Take responsibility for your own actions and emotions. Use challenging situations (we all have them) as practice to effect change in our behavior in the future and to improve our own ability to respond to these same challenges. In conversation with each other, use language like, “When this happens, I feel _________” instead of “You make me feel ________.” “It’s probably because __________” or “It might be because ______” or “I don’t know why yet, but it seems like every time ________ happens, I feel _________.” It’s by doing this process that you can not only learn yourself what buttons you have and reframe them (heal them), but you can teach each other what buttons you each have and how your different pictures are created from the same words or actions. Relationship is all about learning. Understanding brings greater empathy with each other so you can resolve misunderstandings between you without adding hurt and pain to an already sensitive situation.
4. THERE’S NO RIGHT OR WRONG – ONLY WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T WORK - This may sound odd, because we all know there are rules in our society and in our world. However, stating this out loud keeps you out of judgement and detached from proving who’s right and who’s wrong (which never works). It’s all about results anyway. What works to bring you the results you want? Joy, prosperity, fulfillment on all levels. What doesn’t work? Life can be as simple as doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t work. Playing the right and wrong game is a lose-lose situation. There’s seldom joy in it.
5. THE BOND BETWEEN YOU – Before, during, or after a disagreement, misunderstanding, or situation in a relationship, it’s okay to ask questions. Such as, “What was your intention?” (It’s usually good.) And, “Is our bond threatened?” (i.e., Is the love still present? Do you want to stay together? Did something major happen that is outside of the relationship boundaries that were agreed upon?) If the bond is not threatened, then the process is on safe ground and you can proceed with getting to know each other on a deeper level. If the bond is threatened, you’d probably want to abandon the process of “getting to know each other” and discuss if the relationship can continue at all. If the relationship bond is safe between two people who want the relationship to work, it’s all about figuring out how to do it.