Conversations with your spouse can easily go down a slippery slope. If you’re willing to dig underground three stories, you’ll find the answer to your question: “How to save my relationship?”
To determine what is at the heart of any upsetting interchange, you can repeat a conversation on three different levels. Here’s an example.
Content triggers something you’re anxious about.
When my husband told me that he bought a CD, I asked him some anxiety-filled questions and he got upset. This interaction was not about the content, i.e. buying a CD.
What was underneath our reactions?
Emotions bring you insight.
A few days later we purposefully returned to the same conversation about the CD, and this time we got honest about our emotions. What made me upset? I was feeling insecure. Why did my husband over-react to my questions? He thought I wasn’t listening to him. This step isn’t deep enough down yet to uncover how to save a relationship.
Look inside yourself, not at your partner for the solution.
In another couple of days, we agreed to revisit the loaded topic of the CD again. This time we each took the risk to delve into issues of self worth and believe it or not, we ended up talking about sex. I was feeling overwhelmed by my sense of perfectionism and how that impeded my sexuality. My husband was struggling with how to make sex more meaningful.
That CD was a catalyst that deepened our relationship.
Intimacy happened only after my husband and I took the risk of talking about our fears. This leap was taken with no guarantees about how these self-revelations were going to be received. All of this could have ended in humiliation or rejection.
When you make the bold move to the Third Level conversation, you get to feel inner strength that you forgot you had. You actually are heroic because you’ve now know how to save your relationship.
Has this format been helpful for one of your marital disagreements?
Leave a comment below. Some of my students have told me that going to these three levels with one argument transformed their relationships – because the first time was the hardest. After that initial one, it got easier and easier.