Ever said the words: “I just hate conflict?” If so, you’re in good company with roughly 90% of the world. Nobody likes to fight. Everybody wants to avoid awkwardness and pain. But what if pain isn’t the only thing you push away when you back off from the tough stuff?
Listen in this week to learn how avoiding awkwardness could also be blocking the closeness you crave in your marriage. You’ll also get a fresh perspective on how to conceptualize conflict in a way that makes you and your sweetheart stronger than ever before.
Mentioned in this Episode
- The Gottman Institute
- Mark your calendar for “Lucky in Love”
- a virtual coach-a-thon coming to you March 13-17, 2023
- REGISTER HERE
- Check out the Defying Gravity Revolution – a Candice-led community of Bees committed to stop wondering if they married the wrong guy so they can enJOY the marriage they imagined when they said “I do.”
- Grab your free e-copy of “Wife on Purpose” and the companion workbook HERE
- If you’re a coach who wants to up the trauma-informed factor in your sessions and your business, join the Trauma-Informed coaching interest list HERE.
- Follow Candice on Instagram and Facebook
‘s Up, Bees?!
What comes up for you when I say: “Married people fight. It’s part of the deal.”
Give yourself some time before you answer.
Take a pause to really hear the feedback coming from your body as well as from your brain.
Your brain is likely to spit out the answer you think is “right” – which makes sense because all through school, humans are rewarded for adopting and regurgitating commonly held beliefs.
Good news today is that there’s NO right answer, we’re just looking a little closer to uncover the truth as YOU see it.
So listen again: “Married people fight. It’s part of the deal.”
Now pause and listen to your automatic thoughts while also tuning in to signals from your body.
When I slow my response way down in that way, I see that a big part of me agrees. Of course, married people fight. Fighting is an indicator of where someone’s passions are placed. It shows us what’s important to them.
When I slow my response way down in that way, I also notice that a not super tiny part of me believes that fighting is a problem.
Means that the couple is out of sync. Or maybe not right for each other.
Especially if the fights are really intense or last for a long time or take a while to reconcile.
My unconscious “rule” around fighting seems to be – fighting is okay, so long as it’s infrequent, mild and short-lived.
Which isn’t right or wrong – it’s just good for me to know.
Because shining light on my automatic beliefs gives me a clue into how I’m approaching my marriage and what I’m likely to make it mean if he does this or I say that.
It’s not that I have to change ANY of my automatic thinking.
It’s just helpful for me to know what it is so I can consciously decide if I WANT to run my life and my marriage by the rules of those automatic beliefs.
It’ll be helpful for you too.
So one more time – what comes up in your body and brain when you hear me say: “Married people fight. It’s part of the deal.”
Give yourself time to tune in to your nuances answer.
Do you have opinions about what kind of fighting is “allowed”? What are those rules and why do you have them?
I suggest taking some time to journal on your answers – just to show yourself your expectations around how marriage is “supposed” to go.
You can do it now if you like. Pause the podcast. I’ll wait.
You done? Awesome. Congratulations to YOU for taking the time to get to know yourself and the rules you’re working with just a little bit better.
If you’re like most humans, I’d guess that you found at least a little bit of a fight aversion hanging out in your psyche.
Most humans prefer to avoid conflict because we think it’s scary. We freak ourselves out by telling ourselves how much is at stake.
We might be right about that.
We also might not be.
For the rest of this episode, I’m going to borrow from Dr. John Gottman, a recognized expert in the marriage and family therapy field, and use the word “rupture” in place of conflict.
What exactly is a “rupture”?
Something that invites a disconnection between you and your husband is a rupture.
Could be anything from he didn’t make the bed to he slept with his assistant.
Ruptures comes in all sizes and intensities and MOST PEOPLE believe – at least a little bit – that avoiding ruptures is preferable.
Why is that?
Well – it’s because:
you’re worried that a rupture could be final – the death of your relationship
or even if the relationship continues – you still worry that something about the relationship died with the rupture… your closeness, your connection, your attunement to one another, your dreams for the future, maybe those things are compromised or unsalvageable now
you also might be thinking that a rupture means something about your relationship skills
o you’re too sensitive
o he’s too controlling
o neither of you is capable of compassion
o and on and on
If any of that sounds close, know that you’re not alone. Many people view ruptures that way because at least a small part of them believes some version of: the fewer ruptures, the better.
That could be true… but I don’t think it is.
I believe ruptures can be a sign of a mature, advanced relationship – especially when you two figure out how to weather the ruptures well together (we’ll talk more about that in next week’s episode on repair).
Ruptures CAN serve to help you get to know yourself AND your husband even better.
Because ruptures are almost always tied to things that REALLY matter to one or both of you.
They reveal your core values, your deeply held beliefs.
Awareness of each other’s cores values and deeply held beliefs CAN strengthen your relationship because you can choose to take those values and beliefs into account in your day-to-day goings on and in your big decisions.
Honoring – or at least considering – what really matters to your husband as you construct your day is likely to build trust between the two of you. Same thing goes in reverse.
Notice that I said “honoring” and “considering” – NOT “deferring to”. This is a BIG and important difference.
“Honoring” and “considering” means that you have his preferences on your radar and you accommodate for them – when you can do so without going against your own preferences.
That’s different than “deferring” which would mean that you prioritize his preferences over yours always and no matter what – that’s NOT what we are doing.
That’ll just lead to resentment and Bees don’t have time for that.
What I am saying is that you use your ruptures to identify BOTH of your values and beliefs.
Then you bring all of that information to the decision-making table and figure out – together – how to proceed in a way that you’re both comfortable with.
That’s the kind of collaborative problem-solving exercise that makes relationships stronger. Makes them stick.
And if you choose to believe – on purpose – that repair is a viable option after a rupture has occurred, you’re going to be a lot less alarmed by the rupture and a lot more curious about it.
Which means you’ll get to learn something new about your husband, about yourself and about the way you two relate to each other.
More information is more power – so bring on the ruptures, I say.
Here’s how that might look:
Like many couples, my husband and I subscribe to different financial strategies.
He’s more of a risk taker, more of a spender.
I’m… well… not.
So when he makes a purchase that I think is unnecessary – either because we already have a perfectly good version of the thing OR because the thing he’s buying is WAY more expensive than I’m comfortable with – I tend to feel threatened.
I think things like:
he doesn’t care about my preferences at all
he’s wreckless with our resources
he doesn’t think long term and I’ll have to mop that up somehow
When all that’s rattling around in my head, I end up feeling dismissed, hopeless and afraid.
And then angry – because angry feels more powerful and humans tend to shy away from vulnerability.
My coach perspective sees what’s happening here and knows that nothing’s gone wrong, my brain is simply coming online to protect me against perceived threat.
Of course it is.
But my wife perspective only sees that he’s selfish and inconsiderate – which could be true, but also might not be.
Next step Is to for me to purposefully bring my coach and wife perspectives together for a little chat. Both sides contribute without cutting the other side off or dismissing the other side’s perspective.
Here’s how that’d go:
Wife me expresses her fears around husband’s spending pattern and what that means for our financial future. Wife me is allowed to talk openly about feeling hurt because husband isn’t considering my preferences.
Coach me offers up alternatives to explore – he could think of spending as an upgrade that does protect our future – but doesn’t demand that I adopt any of it. Coach me just lays things out on the table for wife me and coach me to examine together.
That is the part that is VERY important and most wives are VERY bad at it.
When there’s a rupture between you and your husband, it’s is ESSENTIAL that you do not add a rupture with yourself to the mix.
What does that mean?
It means that you don’t tell yourself that you’re “overreacting” or “too sensitive” or “difficult” or “judgmental” or “being a baby”.
Because talking to yourself that way just creates a rupture with you. Rupturing with yourself will only make it harder to repair with him because a ruptured you can only bring a fraction of yourself to the conversation.
A ruptured you leaves your very real pain to cry alone in a closet somewhere while you’re self-judgy you puts on a brave face and makes the best of it.
That’ll just lead to resentment and Bees don’t have time for that.
So let’s go back to me and my financial ruptures to practice playing this out in a useful way that keeps ME connected to ME so that I can more authentically reconnect with him.
Wife me gets to raise a red flag around how he doesn’t seem to be considering what matters to me.
Coach me honors that it makes sense I’d be hurt and angry if it’s true that husband isn’t considering me.
Coach me also offers that maybe husband didn’t intend to ignore my preference and was just caught up in the excitement of the purchase or genuinely thought the new thing would uplevel our lives.
Wife me then says – yeah, maybe. But the impact is the same and I don’t like it.
Then coach me holds wife me in my hurt and fear. Together we feel my pain all the way through. We validate that it’s okay for me to want him to spend our money differently. I can keep that desire forever if I want to.
After coach me and wife me have bonded together to hear my concerns fully, without judgment or requiring me to let anything go too soon, here’s what WILL happen – the energy of my pain WILL subside. Every. Time.
From there, coach me and wife me can work together to find creative ways to approach the spending conversation with husband in a way that’ll be more purposeful and less charged.
Notice that I don’t rupture with myself by requiring myself to be understanding or make the best of him making a choice that I don’t like.
Instead, I let my opinion be valid. I sit in support of myself and let my emotions wash through me. Then I approach it with him in a useful way – more on that next week when we talk repair.
When I stay connected with myself during a rupture with him, I’m so much better equipped to consciously decide what to approach with him and what to let go.
Not because I think I don’t have a choice – but because I can more clearly see all of the choices available to me.
Ruptures ARE going to happen in your marriage, Bee.
Your job is to see them as an opportunity to get to know you, know him and know the relationship even better.
Your job is also to be sure you don’t turn a rupture with him into a rupture with you.
Your concerns are valid. Always.
When you listen to them long enough, you’ll find your way to a useful resolution.
Sometimes that’ll mean you choose to hash it out with him. Sometimes you’ll choose to let it go. The important point is that you are choosing based on a solid connection with you.
Hear me say – again and again – what you decide to do matters much less than whether or not you stay connected with yourself as you do it.
When you believe that ruptures are going to happen and they are something you can handle, staying connected – to you AND to him – is SO. MUCH. EASIER.
So let’s do that. You in?
If you want some practice staying connected in all the ways as you advocate for a marriage that better aligns with the one you imagined when you said, “I do.” – you’ve gotta join us for “Lucky in Love” week starting tomorrow, March 13 and running all week.
You’ll come ready to create something you want in your marriage, but don’t yet have OR ready to ditch something you have in your marriage and don’t want anymore.
Us Bees will help you see how powerful YOU can be in your marriage – and we’ll do it in 5 days.
Once you proven to yourself how powerful you are, you’ll of course want to keep creating even more of what you want in your marriage – over and over again – for the rest of your life.
You deserve that and your marriage does too.
Go to www.candicetoone.com/podcast – click episode 27 for the show notes, then register for “Lucky in Love”.
Can’t wait to meet you.
Choose courage, Bee and keep on flying!