Conflicts with your partner so often occur when the two of you are not in sync. The dance of distance or disconnection happens in a variety of circumstances and for a number of reasons. Some examples are:
- Each person has a different set of needs in the moment, e.g. one is eager to engage in conversation while the other just wants to complete a project or read a book
- Energies aren't aligned at the time, e.g. one is in high gear and the other is moving slowly or simply wanting to relax
- The two of you are operating in different realms, e.g. one wants emotional support while the other feels like exercising or meditating
- You're encountering a clash of perceptions, beliefs, or values
- You each are communicating on a different wavelength, e.g. one is expressing feelings while the other is attending to specific content
- Your love languages don't jibe, particularly during times of strong need, e.g. desiring words of affirmation versus requesting physical contact
When you and your partner are out of step together, consider the following basic, yet effective ways to reconnect:
- Be aware of when you feel disconnected from your partner, noticing accompanying emotions, bodily reactions, thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. It will be helpful to identify any of these that represent patterns for you.
- Make an effort to be present, understanding, and compassionate with yourself and your partner amidst your differences.
- Discuss the current situation with your mate as clearly and cleanly as possible, using I statements to express your feelings, desires, needs, values, and/or requests. Refrain from labeling, blaming/shaming, discounting or demeaning your partner.
- Ask your beloved questions to clarify his/her intentions, needs, emotions, etc. Paraphrase some of what you hear to show (attempted) understanding.
- If necessary, decide to handle the next similar situation with less reactivity and more skill.
Life presents numerous opportunities and challenges to tolerate, accept, and sometimes even appreciate individual differences. Intimate relationships can often provoke our egos and serve as viable tests of our willingness and ability to accommodate one another - to graciously, constructively resolve conflicts.
Toward graceful dancing,
Your Relationship Coach,
Jim Sharon, EdD is a licensed psychologist and couples' coach who has over four decades of professional experience serving thousands as a counselor, as a life and relationship coach, and as a seminar and retreat facilitator. Dr. Sharon has authored two books and many professional publications, most recently, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship (with Ruth Sharon, MS), published by SkyLight Paths, 2014. Jim and Ruth have been married since 1970, have raised three adult children, and have two young granddaughters.