Since passion can be a drama queen, flaming into rage or fury; since romance sparks great fervor and desire; since conflict crushes confidence, creating cleavage, loss, and ire; to keep from burning, we must step out of the fire.
Within nearly 50% of the couples I have worked with, conditioned triggers set the stage for a passion play. Over time, certain topics or comments become the hot buttons that, when pressed, produce predictable responses that can set them off and decimate their day. I’m sure you have seen such ardent displays, or been a misanthropic member of the cast. When such reaction patterns exist, they must first be overcome, or held in check, before climbing down the stairs to deeper things.
“Is dinner ready yet?” “What am I, your personal chef?” “You sure looked hot in that sexy little apron” “So it’s all about sex and food, right?” “Why do you always have to be such a bitch?” “Because you are such a dickhead.” “Fucking cunt! Why can’t you ever just answer a simple fucking question!” “Because you are such a stupid fucking asshole!” “If I am so stupid, then why is it that I have a college degree and pay the bills?” “If you are so great, then why do we have so much debt? Pay the bills? Shit, we barely make it from month-to-month!” “If you would get off your fat ass and go to work, instead of shopping all day with brainless sluts, we wouldn’t have so much debt!” “You are such a fucking asshole!!! Get away from me!!! (throws iron skillet across room)” “You fucking bitch!!! I could call the cops on you for that!!!” “Go ahead, call ‘em; and we’ll see who they believe!!!”
When suspenseful sagas such as these exist in a relationship, before looking for causes, we must stop the conflict. The most effective method I have discovered for accomplishing this involves teaching couples how to emotionally disengage through time outs, self awareness, and self control.
Time Out: Until we have gained enough self awareness and control to resist that urge to emotionally engage in the conflict, we must remove ourselves from the situation. When couples plan ahead for this, it reduces the potential for associated insecurity, indignation, or despair. Working with a therapist or coach, we can receive instruction, practice, and useful feedback. When taking a time out to prevent destructive perturbations; we are not threatening to end the relationship, showing less interest, or disrespecting our partner; we are investing in our love and happiness. If you can’t control yourself yet, or if your sweetie can’t resist; then step out of the fire, you must insist. You could take a walk, go to the beach, grab your iPhone and start reading, get back to that project, meditate, do your yoga, or exercise.
Self Awareness: Learn more about what makes you tick. Many of us have unresolved issues; such as inadequacy, victimization, or loss of control; which generate defenses such as being a know-it-all or needing to be right, focusing on unfairness all the time when things are normal; or trying to control everything around us because we are not controlling ourselves; respectively. Although we can dive deeper into these things later, it is important to start seeing them, so we can understand and interrupt the cycle. DO NOT TRY DOING THIS WITH THE PERSON WHO TRIPS YOUR TRIGGER! When you realize you have issues that are fueling the foray, then you will pause before blaming and attacking your paramour. Meditation, journaling, and spiritual growth can help with this.
Self Control: Focus on what you can do to prevent or extinguish the flames, rather than attending to what your honey says or does. You are the only person you can really control. If you feel tempted to fire back at them; then simply slide on your safety, set your weapon down, and express your love in clear and simple ways. A therapist or coach could aid in the identification of your issues, defenses, and causes of the conflict; which could help you keep the drama queen at bay.
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