This post is a marriage-spin on a parent/child post that I recently came across:
You were stressed-out and tired. I was stressed-out and tired. We weren’t getting along and the argument was escalating because neither one of us was trying at all to contain it. I was claiming that you were selfish, emotionally-distant, and inconsiderate— all traits that incidentally perfectly described my own behavior.
The fight finally reached a boiling point and we both blew like twin volcanos. You were too busy advocating for yourself to acknowledge my perspective. I was too busy advocating for myself to acknowledge your perspective. Mirror images of each other in pain and disconnection wrapped up in anger. It was ugly. The kids were going to hear us from all the way upstairs.
Then I took a breath and stopped. I reminded myself that you and I both have the same basic needs to be heard, considered, and loved. I reminded myself that sometimes loving someone means putting aside your ego and digging deep to do loving things even when you don’t FEEL loving. I was half of the problem in this dynamic and I was one of only two people that held the keys to improving it. Positive and negative behavior have equal opportunity to take root in this relationship.
So instead of continuing to insult you and see myself as a victim, I just stopped and listened. I held your own pain hidden in the anger with the same consideration that I held my own pain. It made me sad. It made me reach out and touch your arm and apologize. Your stance softened, and it compelled me to hug you. “I don’t want you to feel like I don’t care about you.”
That hug gave us the opportunity to connect with each other again and remember that our relationship is what matters. Not who wins the argument or who is stronger than the other. It worked. The fight was no longer our focus. The connection we had with each other was back intact and stronger than before. Loving first and taking the time to stop from reacting automatically with harsh words, actions and nonverbals is incredibly difficult. But no one said this was going to be an easy ride.
(*Phrases of this post and the whole last paragraph are taken from http://giraffetalesblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/i-hope-you-learned-a-lesson/)