5 Steps to Help Couples Turn Conflict into Intimacy

How many times have you gotten upset with your partner and addressed it while being in a highly emotional state? For most couples, this is a common occurrence. Something happens and you both proceed to resolve it in a time of heightened feelings. In order to avoid this, once the temperature heights up, follow these steps:

1) Take space. One of you, usually the calmer one, should ask that physical space be taken. This should be done in a way that both of you feel supported and there is an agreed upon time that you will both meet back up. If you can both stay in close proximity, then it is suggested to avoid any feelings of abandonment. If one of you needs to leave agree on approximate check in times until you can both come back together.

2) Match and Move emotions. If you’re feeling sad, then play some sad music or a movie to evoke the emotions. Once you get a good cry, find a way to express the emotions using your body, i.e., dancing, working out, hugging a pillow, etc. This allows the charge in the body, consisting of uncomfortable sensations, to dissipate so that you can figure out thunder lying issue.

3) Identifying Unmet Needs/Feelings. Now is the time to begin asking yourself about the feelings that arose during the interaction that set you off, i.e., not feeling heard, feeling unsupported, etc. Write down your thoughts, process away on paper or express verbally to a close and trusted friend. This allows you to tease through more of the charge so that when you return to your partner you can be as concise and clear as possible.

4) Ask for what you need. Once you identify your feelings, you’re able to discern what to ask for. For example, if you’re feeling unsupported by your mate then figure out what it would look like if your partner was being supportive. Identifying what you need is not enough. Would he or she be making time to listen, hugging you while you speak? The important piece here is to be objective and provide your partner with clear and concise ways that your needs could be met in the future.

5) Express gratitude. Thank your partner for listening and caring enough to take space. Ask each other how that process was and discuss amendments that could be made in the future to make it an even smoother process.

Following these steps prevents partners showing up when the water is boiling. It allows the triggered person to tease through the charge and return with a clear and calm presence so that a conversation can take place. This creates trust, and each is willing to move through conflict as a team in the future due to not feeling emotionally beat up by the process. Partners begin to learn about each other through learning what works and what doesn’t. This process becomes one of personal and interpersonal discovery. We begin to see the person(s) behind the mask and reach a depth of knowing that most people crave. This knowing that comes from moving through conflict together is called intimacy.

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