“Like all shocks, [it] should be cushioned by heightened presence of mind.”
-Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
I’m so relieved that 2016 is finally coming to an end, you feel me? I should have known when David Bowie passed away at the beginning of the year that this was going to be a shit show but I guess I did learn quite a bit this year, especially in regards to mindfulness. I’ve been dating my boyfriend Ebb for 4 years and the learning experience of being with someone for that long has really changed me for the better. Although I’ve grown into a supportive and understanding significant other, but it really hasn’t all been that easy. We’ve learned to treat each issue we come across as an opportunity to grow and become the people we want each other to be. In times of strife, we try to remember to do these three things…
Set your intentions at the beginning of the argument.
This will guide the conversation in a positive way, and hopefully provide a bit of a buffer for any falters in communication. In my case, when I get upset I often misspeak and it’s hard for me to word things in a way that actually conveys what I’m trying to achieve in the conversation. In practice, this would be as simple as taking a moment to think about what you want to achieve with the conversation before it goes any further and say it simply. Here are some examples of positive intentions that you can set:
“My intention is to…”
- Understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from.
- Understand what I can do to help you become less stressed.
- Help you understand why I find XYZ important.
With practice, it becomes easier to set meaningful intentions and the more you will understand what benefits your relationship. Remember that setting intentions isn’t just something you can say to pacify the other person, you have to actually feel it and behave accordingly.
Listen with patience.
With most arguments, there is an internal narrative happening on both sides- meaning that both of you may try to assume to know the situation and motivations of the other. If the other person does not have their moment to speak and tell you the story from their perspective, it further fans the flame of irritation which can lead to a long and draining argument. Having patience when listening to your significant other is the best way to acknowledge and direct your internal narrative in a positive way and avoid making hurtful presumptions about what the other person is trying to communicate.
Express gratitude for the effort made by the other person.
When all is said and done, let your significant other know that you appreciate them and make a point to acknowledge what you felt went right in the conversation. You want your significant other to feel that arguments are an uncomfortable, but necessary part of a healthy relationship- not that they are painful and should be avoided, which can lead to issues with honesty and apathy. Criticism is never as effective as encouragement. It’s something that I struggle with all the time, but it really is the best piece of advice that I’ve ever received. Try it for yourself and let me know how it works for you!
At the end of the day, an argument in an otherwise healthy relationship doesn’t have to end in an all-out war. Most arguments can be deescalated by simply showing your significant other that you’re working with them (like a team), you’re trying to hear them out and that you care ♥
Still taken from a short film by Ebb Bayarsaikhan.