When Fighting, This One Thing Makes Or Breaks Us

(Note: Originally I wrote this blog in 2016, after taking my first long-term relationship training course.)

I remember the last time I felt completely misunderstood and unseen. Feels really bad, right?

And even worse, it was my husband of 13 years who did not seem to understand me. At all. Until recently, I would have let it go, silently brooded and put my indignation on a growing pile of resentments.

I would have remembered a lover from years ago. The one who really understood me. The one who read poetry, like I do. I would have silently longed for a ghost from the past and endured my “fate”. I would have been thinking about how I would die,  and my husband would discover my diaries. All my incredible thoughts would open his eyes and heart, and he would be filled with regret and longing. But then it would be too late…

Remembering this I feel pathetic. But, if I am honest, I did sometimes have such romantic thoughts.

But not this time. Not after 9 months of training as a “love warrior” with The Relationship School®. By now I had some arrows in my quiver. And not only did I know they were there, but the reflex to use them was in my bones (what a good feeling).

“Right now I feel really unseen and misunderstood.” I said.

My husband was getting used to this also. Instead of getting stressed out, and offering his usual “Oh I am sorry,” while quickly putting as much space as possible between us, he slowed down and turned to me, looking me fully in the eye.

“Oh.” he said.

I breathed. God, I felt like shit. I was filled with a mixture of anger, despair and exacerbation. I could feel my heart pounding. It took a lot of effort to return his gaze. My mouth turned dry. How I longed to hit and run! All I could think of was to continue breathing. Part of my mind offered angry retorts: Oh – is that all you have to say?!! I am fucking alone over here!! Another part answered: I hear you, yes, this feels like shit, just breathe. Breathe. This is energy, a wave, let it move through. The previous part offered more profanities. I breathed.

“Hearing you responding nothing but “oh” I feel even more alone. I feel insignificant and uncared for.”

“Oh.” he says again, looking like he is thinking very hard, stressed.

I snort a bitter laugh. I breathe. I can barely contain myself from shaming him, but I know better now.

He gulps. Then he seems to summon all he has: “I do want to understand you. I really do. I feel lost. Where do I start? What could I say, so you would believe me?”

I release a big exhale. My face softens. I can access my heart slowly… “Well, what did you hear thus far…?”

And so we continue talking. My husband staying with me, returning my gaze, leaning in. He has become a love warrior. When my voice gets snide he does not flinch. Or maybe a little. He continues to lean in. He even reflects back what I am saying. He continues to look at me. I talk and talk. He is still not getting it. And he is still here, trying to get my world. My eyes fill with tears and my heart opens wide in one swift unexpected movement.

From bitter to sweet in just a few breaths.

So, here is the one thing that makes or breaks my world in a fight:

Willingness. My husband trying to understand me with all of his heart.

My nervous system is calming down, I feel my brain getting less foggy. My vibe shifts in a way that seems less threatening to my husband. He regains more of his ability to listen and stay with me.

Finally we are moving in a cycle toward connection -– this time our direction is “virtuous” instead on “vicious”: A love cycle instead of a fear cycle.