“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”Helen Keller
Relationships, including healthy relationships, tend to have their difficult past their dark secrets, their painful memories, we “better not touch.” Couples with good relationship and communication skills may dare to touch some old wounds and find overdue healing and peace. The COVID-19 lockdown created a quiet time; perhaps your relationship has been waiting for. Craving to address a topic that has long been lying under the surface, only coming up on occasion, when stress and arguments lead to a flare-up, uncovering wounds we tried to soothe but never really healed.
When you want to use your time to finally address each other’s pain, make sure you provide for certain parameters: create an atmosphere of calm and trust, utilizing your joint favorite tools, time, and space to establish such a setting. Assure each other of your mutual love and trust and commit to accepting that the other’s intention is to address their own pain, not to blame and accuse. And then follow up on this commitment during the conversation!
If necessary, while you are speaking and notice your partner getting upset, slow down, and repeat your commitment. If you are the one getting upset, don’t let the trigger come up, instead request for the calming and reassuring you need right now. Even better, say to your partner, if you are capable of expressing it, that you are dealing with your own trigger and that you know, your partner never intended to hurt you. You don’t have to hold back with your memory of getting hurt, but also truthfully acknowledge your partner’s pain.
When your partner has spoken, reflect, what you heard, don’t turn to ego, accusation, and prematurely pointing to your own hurt. You get your turn for your own story, which you will tell frankly without hiding your hurt and without assigning blame. If you stick to these rules and your relationship has a solid basis, it shouldn’t be hard work to come to empathy, understanding, and love. After all, you picked each other once, and you chose to stay together until now. This doesn’t mean there are no painful feelings or regrets -even anger coming up. However, this time, the one who matters most to you is truly present to share your pain, and therein lies enormous potential for healing- for each of you and for the relationship.
- How well do you practice reflective listening?
- Try googling word phrases like reflective listening, couples communication, how to talk to your partner, etc., then practice some of the things you read.
- Can you name two topics you and your partner have worked through during your COVID-19 time together?
- Can you name three things you love most about your partner? Now tell your partner!