Have you ever sat at a restaurant or coffee shop and found yourself intrigued by the conversations that waft passed you? Observed other people and their engagement and wondered what led them to interact in this manner? How about when you see a young couple in a restaurant so engaged with one another that even the waiter or waitress has difficulty interrupting – to get their attention to take their order or deliver their food? Does it bring a smile to your face or ignite an inner glow in you – remembering how delicious those treasured moments were and are?
So what about when you see a couple- whose connection appears broken – the body language so hostile or at best non-existent or dismissive on one another? Ever wondered what could have brought this couple to such a hostile or negative engagement with one another? And especially so when they are married? –As couples what has happened to the commitment they made to one another? It saddens me when I hear or see a couple that have lost their connection or feel that it’s OK to let hostile feelings prevail. I wonder when was the last time that this same couple were intimate and so absorbed in one another as lovers that had eyes for no one else. I wonder how long the connection has been broken and given the hostility each display wonder what it will take to reconnect and feel and express a more loving connection to one another. Days? Weeks? Or is this all that is left?
From my experience in talking with women or couples who have lost their connection to one another I know that many couples once loving to one another use hostility and unkind words as a common form of communicating to one another! Which is a sad state of affairs!
Don’t let Feelings of Hurt Mount Up
There was a time when this same couple had eyes and ears solely for one another -when the prospect of seeing one another or spending time together brought palpitations to the heart. So what happened? From my experience things typically move to this extreme state due to an argument that has not been resolved. Or several! And one party or neither party is willing to openly and calmly discuss the issue. So it becomes the norm to repress feelings and not deal with the issues. What happens next is a tsunami of undealt with issues. When left unresolved or not dealt with – pretty soon a whole lot of NO go zones develop – topics that are not discussed – and feelings of hurt that have been left unresolved mount!
So what can you do to avoid this happening to you? It might not sound easy as first but with practice it becomes easy to do. It takes commitment to build a lasting and loving relationship – one that stands the test of time! Commit to dealing with negative issues as they arise. Calmly without blame! Learn to overcome one difficult conversation at a time – let nothing go unresolved.
As Einstein said ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’
Recent research in neuroscience and in particular the chemistry of the brain shows us that when conflict arises feelings of safety, wellbeing and care are threatened. And when that occurs we feel stressed or ‘attacked’ – our sense of self-worth and value is challenged! Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin are released into the blood system, which for women particularly thwarts intimacy and a sense of feeling safe- And while acting to protect you in fact inhibit your ability to feel that it’s safe to connect again let alone soon!
When I first married my mother gave me some very good advice. She said ‘Never go to bed on an argument…’ Very wise words! Wise words but as I hear from so many couples not always easy to follow or practice!
Hurt Does Not Dissipate!
But think about it! I’m sure you’d agree that it is so much more difficult to sort things out the next morning or several days after the event! Hurt felt does not dissipate! It festers over time – on what was said and what was not! And as the time elapses the negative feelings harboured increase – potentially becoming even bigger than the original issue that caused the conflict or argument in the first place – making connecting and communicating meaningfully with one another even more challenging… Being in bed lying next to your partner with unresolved hostility is never a pleasant place to be! Instead of love and affection the bed becomes a playground of aloofness and anger.
Don’t let this happen to you– seek ways to resolve it quickly! Without emotion – Or pointing the finger – so NO blaming!
Don’t risk your relationship moving to a NO Speak zone as the norm…Get into the practice of sorting out conflict or disagreements in a manner that has them resolved speedily.
An Example of Connection Lost
Let me give you an example of a couple I observed last Sunday which left me feeling very sad for all concerned…
As I’ve mentioned earlier I love to people watch. It’s a favourite pastime when I am out and about. And being a relationship strategist and communication expert, I love to observe the body language and covert communication gestures of those seated around me. And it makes my heart sing when I see a couple truly engrossed in the presence of one another.
Last Sunday I witnessed the worst example of a couple who had lost rapport and were clearly out of touch with one another. I was in a small café at the entrance to a shopping mall, when I could not help but notice a table of three seated at the entrance to the mall. It looked as if the couple and their son were having a light lunch. A typical Sunday pursuit for some – so nothing unusual in that! No Nothing! Except for the body language and the disconnect that was clearly observable. I could not help but notice that the gentleman in question was sporting a very large and expensive set of head phones that was plugged into his iPhone. And as if that was not a conversation breaker, very neatly perched between him and his partner was the weekend newspaper – neatly obliterating from view sight of both his partner and his son!
So he could neither hear nor see those opposite him!
Now I’m not an advocate of lengthy cell phones conversations taking place when you’re with company – and am at best aghast when I see a young couple sharing time together and see that one or both are engrossed in texting or speaking to an absent third person via cell phone. Acknowledged or not it sends a clear message that the absent party is more important than the person sitting opposite…but tuned into an iPhone- reading the paper AND holding the paper to obliterate those seated opposite takes the cake – is one of the most extreme cases of communication shut down that I have ever witnessed!
This couple were having lunch together not only in silence but effectively devoid of even eye contact! What messages do you think they were relaying inadvertently to one another? And as importantly what messages were they communicating to their son? What lessons and values was he picking up about loving relationships, the importance of conversation, communication and valuing others? I wondered how did this relationship slip into being so unhealthy and uncaring. Where did the respect go? Cause that is really what happens when one person in a relationship or both refrain from dealing with issues. By failing to resolve the issue, ignoring one another is effectively a form of punishment.
Not speaking to one another rather than attempting to resolve issues when a disagreement occurs is inadvertently a means of dismissal. It says that the issue or my being right is more important than our relationship! And more often than not arguments and disagreements arise due to poor communication – misunderstandings of what each person wants!
Don’t let this happen to you! It’s relatively easy to get the connection back – that is if you are willing to do something differently and to learn some new techniques to connect.
But let’s imagine if you will a situation where you and your partner have moved to a ‘NO SPEAK’ zone – much like the couple I observed in the coffee shop. If this is you or your experience– then write down how you feel. No blames! Just write down how YOU feel – and then write down how you would like to feel. Get in touch with the difference between the two states….And then ask yourself how committed are you to take action and do something about it?
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be discussing a few strategies that you can adopt to assist you in moving through disagreements or conflicts when they arise in a healthy and positive manner. So stayed tuned! And if you have liked this article please like or share or add a comment below.