NOT fighting in your relationship is just concerning as fighting too much. Healthy relationships should go through constant phases of CONNECTION, DISCONNECTION, and REPAIR.
Even though feeling disconnected from your partner can feel pretty bad, it’s a sign that growth needs to happen. Couples don’t need to be afraid of conflict…in fact, it means that both people in the relationship are starting to drift too far away and need to find their back together.
The REPAIR phase, if done right, can help you feel heard, seen, and understood in your relationship. REPAIR is what keeps couples connected.
Where many relationships get stuck is when they move from disconnection to repair and it goes bad, so they stay in disconnection. Frustrated and annoyed, they try to go back into repair by doing the same things that didn’t work before, and then, when it still doesn’t work, they give up. Disconnection becomes their norm until the couple does something to interrupt the pattern.
Possible pattern interrupters are…
- Listening to your spouse without trying to push any of your agenda.
- Taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings without blaming your partner.
- Asking for what you want in the present moment vs bringing up the past.
- Responding with love, compassion, and curiosity.
- Asking your spouse what they need to feel listened to.
AND….my favorite pattern interrupter…the FEEDBACK WHEEL! Done correctly, the Feedback Wheel can end the nastiest arguments and help you grow into a healthy relationship.
Here are the steps to take if you’re starting the feedback wheel:
- Say what you saw or heard that upset you. This is the hardest part. Refrain from using triggering and blaming sentences. Here’s an example of what you can say…”When you came home from work and walked past me.“
- State what you made up about the situation or the story you told yourself. So, in the above example, “When you came home from work and walked past me, the story I told myself is that you don’t really care about me.”
- State how that makes you feel. State how that makes you feel, NOT what that makes you think. “That made me feel sad and lonely.”
- What would you like? This is where you state your request. This may not happen the way you want, but at least give your spouse the chance to step up and know what would make you happy. “I’d love it if we could connect after work for at least 15 minutes.”
- Let go of the outcome. WHOOOAA! This is the biggest step. Letting go of the outcome means that you put this out there, and then step away. Your partner may be able to hear this OR they may get defensive. That’s ok. You did nothing wrong. Changing your communication pattern can be hard on your relationship…even if it’s for the better.
If you’re still struggling, recognize and acknowledge that you’re stuck and seek the help of a couples counselor or marriage therapist to improve your relationship. A skilled couples therapist can help you see where you need help, and give you the tools to move from REPAIR to CONNECTION.
Knot Counseling in Lakewood, Colorado specializes in helping couples come back together to create healthy relationships. Using simple, though not always easy strategies, our couples counselors help you revitalize closeness and connection.