In my last article, I explained that if you’re feeling angry with your partner, your first instinct may be to attack them – but attacking or blaming them can make them feel unsafe and cause them to get defensive and “shut down” or pull away from you.
In this article, I want show you what to do instead to overcome arguments and actually bring your partner CLOSER instead of push them away.
When you’re in the middle of an argument or power struggle, conflict resolution is often counterintuitive – what you should do is often the exact opposite of what you feel the most compelled to do in the moment.
The good news is, there are specific skills you can learn to dismantle arguments and help overcome power struggles in your relationship.
One of the most powerful ways to overcome arguments in relationships is to OWN YOUR EXPERIENCE, rather than divert the attention or blame away from yourself.
This can work wonders in ALL of your relationships in your life, not just in romantic relationships.
When we’re feeling defensive, we tend to want to divert blame away from ourselves, and often onto our partner. Even if we’re in the wrong, we can still do this because our brains are hardwired to want to be “right.”
When we’re diverting the blame, we often use sentences starting with “you.” This is the verbal equivalent of pointing the blame directly at the other person.
Statements such as, “You drive me crazy…” or “You’re pissing me off…” or “You made me so angry when you did that…” will cause your partner to immediately go on the defensive.
The way to stop diverting the blame is to start connecting with and OWNING your experience.
Instead of saying, “You made me so angry when you did that…” – try simply saying, “I’m feeling angry right now.”
When you take responsibility for what you’re experiencing in the moment, you can get the same message across without holding your partner responsible for your feelings.
This can often get to the root of the problem quickly and actually bring your partner CLOSER when done correctly.
It may sound simple, but this is one of the most challenging communication skills for people to learn since it’s counterintuitive to the way our brains are wired.
When you take the time to get in touch with what you’re feeling and share your experience in the moment, your partner can actually HEAR you and will be much less likely to get defensive or “shut down” on you. This is essential to opening the lines of communication.
Instead of repeating old destructive relationship patterns, this can help end recurring conflict so you can safely connect with each other in a way that brings you CLOSER, rather than driving you further apart.
Once you get into the habit of owning your experience, it will help you understand and appreciate each other’s differences so that both of you can be yourselves with each other and live an authentic life together.
You’ll no longer need to try to change or manipulate your partner in order to get your needs met or keep the peace.
Since this skill is counterintuitive, it might feel unnatural or even a little scary at first, and it’s likely going to take some practice – but it can really change your relationship and your life when you learn how to use it correctly!