So you’ve had a blowout with someone in your life. This someone is very important to you, they may be your spouse, your live-in mate, a really good friend, or someone at work. You have been dealt a blow, and you feel very strongly about it. Perhaps trust has been violated. This is a basic foundation for any relationship. Maybe someone does not believe what you did or did not do. I’ve seen these two things happen to people close to me. They both handled it very differently, in their own way.
Some handle it with great emotions and a lot of drama because they feel slighted. Then they moved on feeling differently toward the person that slighted them. Some handle it by sweeping it under the rug, waiting for just the right moment to say something. “Oh, can’t do it today we are having dinner with friends. I can’t do it tomorrow, my spouse has a job interview and they have to be on their best behavior. Best to not rock the boat. The day after that is Saturday and I have worked hard this week, another argument is not what I want. Better put it off till next week. That feels better.”
Putting it off over and over and over. Not good. Those are just excuses to not get into the fray again. Kinda can’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid high drama. But avoidance is not good for really important things like a violation of trust. Those should be handled at some point, sooner rather than later. Sweeping anything under the rug means sooner or later the rug will be so full of crap that it will lift off the floor. All these little things add up. Sooner or later you have to deal with all that crap. Better to deal with it as soon as it seems prudent, with calmer emotions.
One thing I learned from a long-term relationship is what I call the three day rule. Any time we had a blowout, a disagreement, or not seeing eye-to-eye, letting it sit for three days seems to work wonders. It’s really hard to be angry at anyone or anything for three straight days. Anger takes a shitload of energy and no one on the planet has that much energy in their reserves. What helps is getting back to a normal routine. Routine puts humans in their comfort zone. Three days is also not enough time to have forgotten what was so important that pissed everyone off. Take three days off with the agreement to discuss it on the third day. That puts the responsibility back into the picture. Yes we pissed each other off, and yes we have agreed to discuss it when tempers are dormant and we feel more centered. Great! So far so good.
Finding the right time on the day you revisit this is easy. Pick the time you are both up, freshly awake. If at all possible do it first thing in the morning. Get up earlier than normal if you have to both be at work. If a relationship is at stake, it’s worth the extra effort. Have a cup of coffee so your brain starts percolating and turn off your phones and put them down for the entire meeting.
Discuss timing briefly the day before. “Hey let’s revisit that thing tomorrow morning over coffee. Does that sound like a good time? Let’s set aside an hour where nothing is going to interrupt us and where we are devoted to solving this, because I really want to resolve this thing that’s between us.” Even practicing your speech to ask your mate/friend when a good time to talk is important so it comes out right. Practice makes perfect and helps your confidence. If it’s a co-worker or other situation, do lunch.
You are sitting over coffee waking up. You both have decided to be here, uninterrupted to patch up this relationship before it gets worse. I would urge you to keep these guidelines in mind any time you have a discussion:
- Turn off your cell phone, the radio, the tv. All of it. For the entire time you are talking. This should be non-negotiable and doable.
- Do not bring up the past unless it is the thing that upset you. As in, don’t bring up something from last month, last year, and how you hate how they put a new roll of toilet paper on the thingy the wrong way and how they hate your mother’s hairdo. Yeah, that’s a no no. Keep the discussion moving along and focused.
- If the other person keeps avoiding the important stuff and can’t say on target, bring them back, gently, as often as necessary. If they say, “Hey did you see that red bike the other day I pointed out? That’s the cool new Red Racer model and I really want to save money for it and…blah blah blah.” There goes the focus and the discussion out the window. Help the other person gently back to the discussion. You might say, “Hey yeah, that bike is great, but I would rather talk about this issue we have. It’s much more important than a bike. We can talk about the bike or even go see it, once we are done. Now back to the issue at hand.” Do this as often as you have to.
- Try and keep an even tone to your voice. Certainly don’t raise your voice.
- You can ask for divine intervention or guidance through the meeting. Nothing wrong with a little backup from friends in a lofty position.
- Keep yourself protected energetically so you don’t get hooked by high emotional drama. I use the tool called being the space for and have a loving intent for starters.
- Listen when the other person is talking, and ask them for the same courtesy. This can be hard, but good communication has three points: your mouth and your two ears. Your ears and listening are as important as talking and telling your story. If your friend/spouse/mate is not listening to you and just rambling on, let them know you’d like them to listen to you. It’s important for closure.
- If that doesn’t work, look up the idea of a talking stick. He who holds the stick speaks, the rest listen. When one person finishes speaking, pass the stick to the next person. It goes round the table till all the talking is done and everyone is satisfied. Let’s hope you don’t have to get to that point.
- Be open minded, and ready to compromise if you feel it’s right for the situation. But also stand your ground if something very basic and necessary like trust or fidelity is at stake. You know in your heart those very basic tenants that make up any relationship. And you know you should never accept less than is necessary to have a balanced, honest relationship.
- Expect what you need as a bottom line for your relationship. If you don’t get it, maybe it’s time to move on. (Fidelity, trust, etc. We’re talking the big stuff here.)
- Choose your battles wisely. Don’t go on and on about something small. Compromise and it’s okay to give in a little for lesser items. But….
- You should never end a discussion feeling that you have given in too much, just to make peace. It is not worth it. Make sure the compromises are real and attainable.
Going forward, make sure all the rugs in your home have nothing swept under them (figuratively). Shake them out regularly and ‘clean house’ and be confident that later on you won’t trip over an old issue hiding under that rug! Believe me, nothing is better than clearing the air and forging ahead with the confidence that nothing is going unsaid, or lurking in the shadows. Be confident you are on solid ground. Live in the light and shake out those rugs!