Another day another outburst. Your fuse is running out and you have no idea how to solve problems in your relationship.
I know this life and occasionally still visit that side of relationships. And the truth is I love the side where we harmoniously solve problems a whole lot better than emotional outbursts.
What you will get out of this post
This post intends to show there is a more helpful way to solve problems in your relationship. It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. You don’t have to be crippled by anxiety every time you and your significant other encounter problems in your relationship.
We will explore what you need to know before you solve problems in your relationship. We will also discover why your significant other can’t hear during a heated argument. And give steps we can take to deal with our conflict in a healthy and useful manner.
- Why can’t my partner hear me during an arguement?
- What can I do before disagreements come up?
- How will knowing what to do help with in future disagreements?
- The 7 steps to take to help solve problems in my relationship
Why can’t my partner hear me during an arguement
An argument creates stress. When you or your partner is stressed, the body produces cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that negatively affects your brain’s functioning. This puts you on the back foot when it comes to solving problems in your relationship. Your partner can’t hear you or your hurt because he/she feels threatened.
When a person feels threatened, the body doesn’t know the difference between a real threat (like a tiger about to pounce) and a perceived threat. And because of this, the brain goes into primitive mode. Psychologist Daniel Goleman calls this the amygdala hijack when the part in the brain (amygdala) responsible for activating flight, fight or freeze overrides your logical brain.
Nothing makes sense
Your partner cannot hear a word of what you are saying when the amygdala has taken over the system.
His only concern is to defend himself from the situation. This plays out in a few of the following ways:
Fight- past arguments are brought up because he can’t think of anything new on the spot.
Flight- your partner literally walks or storms off in the middle of the argument.
And freeze- this is when your partner remains silent throughout the argument, so quiet you feel like you are talking to yourself.
In all the above scenarios, nothing makes sense to the other person. All his brain is telling him is, there is danger and he needs to protect himself. This gets in the way when you want to solve your relationship problems in a big way.
Your partner does not feel heard
I believe most arguments would come to a screeching halt if we decided to hear the other person out, first. Yes, this is an insanely evolved way of working things out. But it is worth considering if the aim is to solve problems in your relationship and not keep score of who is wrong or right.
To solve problems in your relationship first check childhood trauma
How we were treated as children affects the way we manage our adult relationships. If you or your partner grew up in a home where you were yelled at and then given the silent treatment, you may renact the same behaviour.
Childhood trauma that isn’t dealt with creeps into your everyday life. And it makes it hard for you to solve problems in your relationship. It goes back to the brain reverting to fight, flight or freeze. The brain believes the disagreement with your partner is the same situation as when you were a child and helpless. The brain then floods the brain with “coping”strategies it has employed before. Its only concern is to keep us safe and when the amygdala takes over there is no distinction on what is real danger and what is not.
What can I do before disagreements to help solve problems in my relationship
Now we know what happens during an arguement that’s causing you to feel unheard. You are not being heard because the amygdala has gone rogue. What can you do to decrease the chances of a heated and hurtful disagreement?
To solve problems in your relationship in a healthier way it is important to do some ground work.
- Know yourself or at the very least know what sets you off. As much as possible know your fears initimately, understand your traumas and your argument style, and then have the courage to communicate all of this to your partner.
- Ask your partner what his fears, traumas and argument style is.
- Put rules of engagement during a disagreement in place. Agree on the dos and don’ts during any conflict between you and enforce this agreement or accept when your partner enforces it. Remember this agreement comes about through a conscious decision and this must always override the ramblings of the irrational fight, flight & freeze. ( This is the hope, okay?)
How will knowing what to do help with future disagreements?
Once you have rules of engagement in place and have spent time talking about your childhood traumas, your disagreements will or should be less volatile.
Taking the time to get to know one another’s trigger points will help you read the situation better during a conflict.
For example, my husband knows that one of my biggest fears is abandonment.
This fear of abandonment shows up in many different ways and situations. But because we both know this, it has become one of the checkpoints before or during a meltdown.
My inner child sometimes interprets my husband going on a boys’ night as abandonment.
I then act out this fear. Before I was aware of this, we would have blown out fights or brooding silences.
This was no way to keep doing things. So to solve this problem in our relationship I needed to investigate where this fear came from and then explain it to my husband.
This knowledge has helped us almost eliminate this fight completely.
Rule of engagement around the fear of abandonment
My husband used to spring a boys’ night out on me. This would send me into panic mode.
We have since established I like to know what is coming up and this means he needs to let me know in advance.
This helps me have a stern talk with my inner child. And when I have a problem soothing my inner child, he( my husband) will remind me that this situation is not like my father walking away from my life.
The reminder is incorporated whenever a situation presents as the fear of abandonment playing out.
Side note: It is important to not use your partner’s fears and past traumas against them.
Helps you figure out how to show up and solve problems in your relationship
When you and your partner have a plan in place and you know what triggers the other, it helps you both show up better during a conflict situation.
When you know one another’s weaknesses you will also learn one another’s strengths. This knowledge is what you must draw on when engaged in a disagreement. The situation is the issue, not one another. So focus on solutions.
This is not to say hurt feelings cannot be shared or thoughts about how the other can show up better. But there is a way for all of this to happen in a healthier way. Find out how below.
The 7 steps to help solve problems in your relationship
To solve problems in your relationship you need to have the win/win approach. There is no loser. You either both win or both lose.
Pick one problem talk goals and feelings
Step one: Pick one problem to solve and steer away from other issues in your relationship. Solve problems in your relationship one at a time. If not, you go round in circles and nothing is accomplished.
Step Two:Give one another an opportunity to explain, in detail what you want. There can be no judgement during this time. Explain what your goals are in this disagreement and give your partner the opportunity to do the same.
For example: my husband and I used to disagree about whether our son’s grades are high level important. He believes grades are high level. I am more lienent when it comes to grades.
My goals: For our son to know he is worthy regardless of what his grades reflect. Turns out this was my husband’s goal too. His other goal was for our son to understand you only get out what you put in. I agree with this sentiment.
Now, what could have been a heated argument about who is right and who is wrong, was nibbed by a simple act of expressing our goals within the situation at hand.
Your goals are the points you are willing to go to war for. Help solve problems in your relationship by starting with clarifying your goals.
Summarise, brainstorm and win!
Step Three: Take turns explaining, in detail and again, with zero judgement how you feel. This can be as simple as (keeping with the above example), when you emphasize the need for grades to be the main thing, it makes me feel disheartened.
Step Four: It may feel like you are repeating yourself and you are. But it is fine because repetition is important to help you and your partner fully grasp what the other is saying or asking.
So in step three, you explain in detail and without any judgement the reasons for your goals (step one) and feelings (step two).
Step five: Mirror one another. Take the time to repeat what your partner has shared with you and give your partner the opportunity to summarise what he believes he has heard from you.
Fill in any gaps. Be patient, no one is under attack, always remember this.
Step six: Once you both on the same page, it is time to brainstorm at least three workable solutions. These solutions must solve the issue and benefit both of you.
Step seven: Pick the best solution and implement it.
Relationships are tough. It is hard enough to keep yourself happy and aligned and when you add another person, the stakes are raised.
But, like with anything we do in life, there are principles we can employ to help ease our frustrations.
Have a plan of action for how you fight and remember the issue is what needs a solution and not who is right or wrong. Be open and patient and operate from the place of the person you are working to become.
I wish you the healing you deserve, always.