Dear Coach Laura,
My significant other and I had a really big fight recently. I didn’t like the way I behaved and I know that triggered him. I am afraid this may happen again. Can you give me some advice on how to prevent reacting so badly?
Dear Emotional One,
You have summarized the classic behavior that indicates, “What you are fighting about is not what you are fighting about.” Check in with yourself. What is the issue at hand? If you were arguing about something small (that you know can come up again) chances are there is a deeper issue. The key to changing the pattern is identifying what is really going on. In order to identify what is really going on, you must stay engaged in the issue without being entrenched in it. Here are the basic steps. I recommend getting professional help with them if your issue comes up repeatedly.
Step 1: Avoid making your point over and over. Let go of having to be right. Focus on what you really want. That is, to understand what is the underlying emotional triggers and create harmony within. You may want to look to what is frustrating to you about your OWN life. Are you projecting it on the relationship? If so, take ownership of that fact. That is the gift of surrendering being right.
Step 2: Be willing to be uncomfortable. Start asking yourself questions. What am I feeling? What do I want to be feeling? What do I need to really feel better?
Step 3: Allow yourself to be open to other possibilities you otherwise wouldn’t see about the situation. Think about his point of view. Contemplate it as a possibility instead of rigidly defending your own point of view.
Step 4: Commit to a win-win solution. It can only be a solution for you if it’s a solution for him too. You need to play on the same side. That is, inside your loving relationship.
In his book, Passionate Marriage, Dr. David Schnarch encourages readers to create inter-dependent relationships. If you are getting stuck in a pattern, chances are you are in a codependent pattern. Look to take more responsibility for your stuff.
Yours In Joy.