One of the things that I’m trying in my relationship with Mr. C is to make sure that we have constructive conflict. Conflict happens as part of any relationship. It’s normal. It’s natural. But, many people (myself included) either avoid conflict or we aren’t taught how conflict is supposed to work.
My marriage was an example of this. We didn’t have healthy conflict. We saw many therapists and one relationship therapist turned us on to Gottman’s method for couples :
The goals of the Gottman method are “to disarm conflicting verbal communication, increase intimacy, respect, and affection, remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations, and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.”
It sounds awesome in theory, but it was hard to do. We didn’t get too far. It wasn’t our therapist fault. I got put on bed rest and couldn’t continue in the therapy sessions. My pregnancy was high risk so I didn’t want to discuss stressful things that could endanger my baby. So, I chose to stop it. The baby’s life was more important to me than working on my marriage.
I stifled the pain and frustrations of my marriage and focused on my baby. I was determined to carry my pregnancy to term so we in essence avoided the conflict. It wasn’t healthy. It was unsettling. We didn’t fight fair. Our foundation wasn’t built on solid ground and it began to crack after Munch was born.
We couldn’t communicate to save our lives. Neither of us had learned how to effectively communicate in relationships and that has moved into a major reason why we don’t communicate well now. Good communication is essential to anything you want to do in a relationship and let’s be real…co-parenting is a relationship.
I realized that I couldn’t do it alone with co-parenting, but I had to shift how I let things affect me. However, in my relationship with Mr. C this shift in poor communication was not something that I was willing to sacrifice. I was okay being alone. Learning how to communicate mainly through texts and emails was something I’ve gotten used to in co-parenting, but I needed a man that would talk to me, lead me and love me through our issues. Especially those that involved communication.
I am learning to be more open with Mr. C. To express my discontent on issues or frustrations in a way that he will hear me, but not make me feel as though I’m blowing things out of a proportion. I needed to make sure that we are practicing healthy communication behaviors. So, I did what I do best and began to research effective ways to communicate and how to have healthy conflict resolution.
I focused on my communication skills and wanted to research “fair fighting” and healthy conflict. I needed to know how to communicate my dissatisfaction in a relationship without it escalating into World War III. I wanted to be able to increase intimacy, respect and affection like in the Gottman method without either of us cussing each other out and I wanted to make sure that we understood our end goal was always to be heard and respected.
-To Be Continued-