It's almost impossible to have a constructive conversation when we're driven by anything other than love and a desire to heal the relationship. So, I wait it out. I own what I'm experiencing and how I'm feeling, and I allow myself to push gently at the edges of the pseudo-issue until the bubble begins to deflate and the real underlying issue starts taking shape. Still, I let my heightened emotions run their course. And then I wait for the moment of quiet and intuitive connection to I ask myself:
"What are you REALLY upset about?"
This question allows me to redirect my internal monologue from the pseudo-issue to the real issue. I continue to ask myself more and more specific questions, all the while staying in tune with my higher self. I explore how my personal story might have affected my response to this situation.
"When I think about my story, how does it make sense that what he’s doing would upset me?" I continue to ask questions, paging through a mental slideshow of possible explanations and waiting for the one that "clicks."
If he said something I felt was insensitive, the questioning process might go something like this:
"Is it what he said?" Not so much.
"Perhaps the tone?" No, he usually speaks like that.
"Was it the timing?" Yes, the timing!
"What didn’t I like about the timing? I’m busy?" No more than usual.
"I’m overwhelmed?" That's it—I'm overwhelmed.
"Why is being overwhelmed a problem?" (And so on...)
Almost invariably this process ends with a realization that I’m disappointed with myself in some area of life and it has transferred to this argument. Alternatively, I might realize that my partner is currently embodying a behavior I struggle to accept in myself, which makes it difficult to see in my significant other.
For example, if the conflict arose because I'm feeling overwhelmed, I might be triggered because I believe that reaching that emotional breaking point means that I am weak, and I cannot accept weakness in myself. My story has told me that I value personal strength.
Either way, the argument was brought about by a conflict I've experienced with my own values, and ultimately, the whole issue has very little to do with my partner's actions and everything to do with my own frame of reference for the world. The circumstance has merely shone a light on that hidden side of me.
This is hugely liberating (and also sometimes quite irritating when I’m desperate to wade around in the blame pool) because it hands me the power—and the responsibility—to reconcile my own story with the argument we’re in.
As soon as we reach this point, the argument just seems to crumble into an honest, vulnerable moment of sharing our deepest quirks, wounds, and fears with each other, every single time.