- updated: Jul. 06, 2023
Let’s start with the basics.
Do you want a deep-rooted positive bond with your partner?
Do you take responsibility for your role in the relationship problem you’re having?
Do you believe you know your partner’s real intentions and wishes?
Do your emotional reactions interfere with talking through conflict with your partner?
Do you believe that you are entirely responsible for your behavior, regardless of your partner’s behavior?
Do you believe you are justified in raising your voice to your partner, walking away during an argument, or refusing to engage?
What do you do to de-escalate conflict with your partner?
How do you demonstrate respect for your partner and that he or she is interesting, important, and valued?
Right about now, are you thinking, but what about how my partner behaves?
I get it. You’re thinking it’s not fair. Why should I go through all that when my partner doesn’t even listen to me or do what I ask for? Okay. But are you getting what you want by retaliating with your own negative behavior?
Retaliation makes sense when two people are in a boxing match, where counterpunching is what makes the sport. In competition, opposing sides are about winning. Do you really believe you can have an enduring, positive relationship when one of you is a winner and the other a loser?
How about a relationship in which both of you are actually on the same side? Being on the same side means finding a way to “join’ the other person, not counterpunching. You don’t have to agree with the other person, but you can’t be in opposition to or derisive of him or her. Assuming you want an enduring positive relationship, fighting for who wins by punching better, just won’t do it.
So what’s an already angry, hurt, frustrated person to do? The answer is: Say what’s on your mind in such a way that the response you get is likely to be at least close to what you’re hoping for. Easier said than done, right: Maybe.
It depends on whether you and/or your partner are able to “put a lid on” emotional expressions of anger, hurt and frustration. At least one of you has to exit the “boxing match” dynamic. And, by the way, it only takes one of you to stubbornly resist being provoked into boxing, if you want to begin a positive, effective relationship dynamic. Eventually, either you partner learns to trust you and then willingly joins you on the same side; or, you learn that a healthy, positive relationship is not likely with that person.
So, if you and/or your partner need help taking off boxing gloves, I think I can help.