Address the Issue
If you sweep things under the rug, eventually someone will trip over the lump.
In my experience, it is best to wait for the fire to die out before revisiting the source of the inferno. For the passionate, this is not easy.
It is all too tempting to hash it out, right there and then, while still flush from its heat. Sometimes this can result in a hefty helping of the Silent Treatment; the heartburn kind. Often, conflict is like an episode of Three’s Company; something or someone has been misunderstood or not completely transparent. Purely open communication is
…the ability to fully express your perspective to your partner and, brace yourself, seeing things from your partner’s perspective.
It is best to wait until both parties are calm and ready to listen to revisit an issue. The aftermath of an argument takes time.
Often couple`s therapists will use tools for listening like the ‘speaking rock.’ The person in possession of the rock is the only one allowed to talk. This means that the one without the lump of stone is to listen. Corny! But it works. If nothing else, a huge spotlight exposes how often we interrupt one another – especially when we don’t like what we are hearing.
I once read on Pinterest,
‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Steven R. Covey
Something to think about the next time your partner is holding the rock. If an apology is in order, and it probably is, see my article on apologies to better your approach.
Do Not Use the Car.
Fight the urge to approach the ‘we should talk’ conversations when driving. Why, you ask?
You have a captive audience. Literally, your partner is trapped with nowhere to go. If they are not ready for this conversation or you are not abiding by the sharing rules of the speaking rock, you will land yourself in a bigger argument and possibly on the receiving end of the Silent Treatment.
Trust me on this. Getting out of the car to walk is so clické, but young couples everywhere have been there. Perhaps, it is their flair for the dramatic. But as we get older no one has time for walking (or the shoes because, let`s face it, these talks always happen when we are dressed up) and more often than not we are on the highway.
Avoid Tight Spaces
Even if you have all the best intentions and you promise yourself not to let the conversation become heated the odds are that it will blow up in your face. Cornered animals tend to jump to the defensive. They turn rabid and snarl. When strapped in and forced to start straight ahead there is nowhere for the anxious energy to go. People need their space and freedom to truly express themselves, especially when threatened. Body placement says a lot about what we are communicating; standing wagging a finger, sitting with crossed arms or even pacing are all conditioned ways to process and respond. We pick these up in our childhood and they are our own coping mechanisms.
Not only does the trapped person need an outlet for this energy but it serves the partner well to bear witness. We take greater cues from one another’s body language than words, especially from our partners.
When a driver is backed into a conversation and stopping is not an option, I promise you that they are visualizing pushing you out of the moving car. Okay, if it was meant to be, they may drop you at the next corner even in their fantasy.
Regardless the mental message is the same; SHUT UP or GET OUT!
But to avoid the drama that would certainly follow that scene, not to mention criminal charges, the driver may opt to white knuckle the rest of the drive. They may pick up speed and begin to drive recklessly and erratically. Do not kid yourself. They are not distracted by the conversation. They are trying to get home as fast as they can to get you the hell out of the car.
Do not confuse the passenger seat with a soapbox or the car with an interrogation room. If…I mean when, an ugly conversation needs to take place, let it be somewhere that offers an escape. At least at home, if a door has to slam, no one is left on the side of the road (in uncomfortable shoes).