What to Do When You Hate Each Other
As I’m writing this, Bae and I are mad at each other. Pissed. We haven’t spoken in hours and to be real, sometimes it be’s like that.
So what do we do to get unstuck? Right now, neither party is budging. We’re equally upset, equally frustrated. Both of us think we’re right. Walls are up. Egos are present. And no one wants to make the first move. Ya’ll know how it is.
I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that have worked for us over the years. These are small steps both you and your partner can take to work toward resolution. The key word here is “work.” When pride is involved, none of these steps are easy. But trust that they are worth trying. Your relationship is worth it.
Tip One: Find the God in Your Spouse
Think about how God views your spouse. Hopefully, (if you’re with the right person), God felt Bae was fit to be your mate. Think about the qualities that make him/her everything and more on the good days. Now let’s be honest, getting to this place can be difficult. It’s not easy. A strong mental effort and the willingness to think beyond the present moment is required.
Tip Two: Restore the Positive Energy
For me, negative energy is a no go. Therefore, even when I’m still upset or don’t fully agree that I’m in the wrong, I’ll sometimes come forward to resolve the conflict simply because I don’t want to spend my night or my weekend surrounded by sour energy. Sometimes it’s just my desire to restore our home and “keep the peace” that pushes me to make the first move toward resolution. So at times, it’s less about who won the argument and more about how can we get back to a peaceful state of living.
Tip Three: Reflect Your Partner’s Feelings
Ok, now this next one requires some emotional intelligence and spiritual maturity. Close your eyes and silently recap the major sound bites that your partner said during the disagreement. What were Bae’s main points? And more importantly, what feelings were expressed? Think hard. Try not to put your own reactions in the mix, but instead think about what they actually said and felt.
Another helpful angle...if you had to objectively describe to a third party what your partner’s argument was, what would you say? Sitting with your partner’s feelings can be useful because it allows you to quiet your own frustrations and actually hear what your partner is trying to say. It may take you 20 minutes to get to this place. In my latest experience with this, Bae’s viewpoint came to me while I was watching TV on the couch. He was in the office and we hadn’t spoken for about 20 minutes, but as soon as I was in a mentally quiet space, I could better hear and empathize with his feelings in my head.
I know for my husband, having his feelings acknowledged and verbally recognized is a really big deal. One technique in couples therapy is to have each partner reflect the feelings they heard their spouse say back to their spouse. For example, the wife might say, “So John when I don’t help you find your keys in the morning, you feel alone and that I don’t care.” This is a seemingly simple exercise, but a powerful one indeed. It lets your partner know that they were heard and that their feelings matter. It also allows your partner to feel more understood and (hopefully) less inclined to keep their wall up. Progress toward peace is usually a lot smoother after each person genuinely feels they are heard. I encourage you to try it.
Tip Four: Get the Heck Away From Each Other
A marriage and family therapy professor in grad school once said, “Give each other some space for crying out loud! Go do something! Don’t just sit there and keep fighting, yelling, huffing and puffing!” Go read! Go in the next room and take a shower! Take a walk around the block! Get some ice cream!” When I first heard her say that, I laughed and thought it was cute. But I find myself repeating her words in my head if Bae and I have been fighting for longer than we should. Taking space definitely helps. It allows us to cool off and “get a grip” lol. But simply going in a room to pout with your arms crossed won’t do the trick. Make sure you take the time to do something you enjoy. Something that will bring you back to center. Prayer, ice cream, listening to Beyonce, whatever. Taking space is a simple tip, but one that will really change the trajectory of the disagreement. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and with more patience to work toward resolution.
Again, these are a few tips that have worked for us over the years. Please know...everybody fights. You and your “dream” partner won’t be exempt. But it’s all about how you bounce back from conflict that matters.
Until next time...