Is your relationship a battleground?
Want to know how you can get the upper hand?
My guess is that you will engage in one of two strategies to win this war.
Strategy 1 – Maximising
Maximisers are very good at pushing forward and getting their point of view over, often loudly.
If you’re a maximiser you are probably shouty and determined that your partner hears you, so if they move away from you, you shout more.
Strategy 2 – Minimising
Minimisers take their energy in and disappear into themselves when it all kicks off.
You might withdraw physically, go into another room or walk away, or emotionally just shut down.
The Monkey and the Turtle.
These two strategies are so common that in Imago Relationship Therapy we use the metaphor of the Monkey and the Turtle.
The Monkey jumps up and down and bangs on the turtle’s shell, demanding that they come out and discuss things.
The more the monkey bangs, the more the turtle retreats into its shell. This infuriates the monkey, so it bangs harder.
And so it goes on.
Sometimes the turtle gets soooooo fed up it comes out snapping. The monkey then is taken aback and wonders what all the fuss and shouting from the turtle is about.
“Calm down dude, I was only saying…”
Whether you’re a monkey or a turtle, you will want to know how you can win this power struggle, so here’s the answer.
You can only lose.
Survival Behaviour Sucks
The strategy you are applying is one you created in childhood.
As a kid, you had very little power, so you worked out a way of surviving the challenges of living in your family.
You did a good job – you’re still here!
You can pat little you on the back and thank them for helping you out when things were tough at home.
It’s time to update that strategy to one that works in adulthood now. Arguing does not work.
The more you argue with your partner, the more disconnected your relationship feels.
Even if you think you’ve ‘won’ an argument, it leaves the one you love wounded and moves you away from the loving relationship you want so much.
What To Do Instead If You’re Stuck In Your Relationship
1. Slow down and ask if your partner is available to hear you. If not, wait until they are.
2. Have what John Gottman calls a ‘slow start up’. This is where you talk about the important thing gently rather than attacking with “you do this” and “you do that”.
If you criticise, you will get defensiveness – they come as a pair.
3. Validate. Listen to what your partner has to say back and see it from their side. This will demand that you put yourself aside.
It’s a powerful way to connect. What we all crave is to be understood by others.
If your partner feels like you are truly doing your best to understand them, they will soften and your conversation will become far less reactive.
If you’re a maximiser, your challenge will be to contain your emotion. You won’t die if you say less and give your other half a chance to speak.
If you’re a minimiser then it will be to stay and express what’s going on for you. Saying nothing and keeping your head down won’t work.
In both cases, it will involve sitting with uncomfortable feelings and becoming the safest partner possible.
Is it more important for you to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling you’re having right now or to have a long term, safe, loving, and connected relationship? (Hint: if it’s the first option, then you’re in trouble!).
Get Better At Your Relationship Without Going To Therapy
The “Getting The Love You Want” couples weekend workshop aims to teach you stuff like this over two days. By the end of the workshop, you will learn:
- The crazy stuff you do in your relationship is normal
- Why you do the crazy stuff in the first place
- What to do instead of the crazy stuff so you can have a close, loving relationship with your other half.
Interested? Click here to find out more.