FIRST… MAKE SURE YOUR LOVE RELATIONSHIP RESTS ON ADEQUATE PILLARS AND ARE NOT MISALIGNED OR DAMAGED…
THE SIX PILLARS IN EVERY LOVE RELATIONSHIP
We all need to feel loved [Pillar #1] and to give love [Pillar #2]. Love is an emotion and as such is a feeling interpreted cognitively as a desirable response. As an emotion it serves the role of promoting and ensuring social bonding needed for accomplishing social goals. The act of loving and being loved can be romantic or non-romantic. When motivated or directed by romance both the need and its mental interpretation produce a secondary need for total acceptance and total belonging. We need the person we love to want our love [Pillar #3] and to love us in return [Pillar #4]. This mutual response tells both of us we belong to each other [Pillar #5]. In such a relationship the couple will have a feeling of being vulnerable to the power of the other [Pillar #6]. Interestingly, the mixture of affection and willing surrender to the power of the other person brings excitement and happiness. In such relationships all the Pillars (explained in italics) are well aligned. The ideal expression of this is in an aligned romantic relationship.
ROMANTIC LOVE RELATIONSHIPS
The six pillars of a romantic love relationship in one person must match those in the other person. The alignment does not have to exact; but both must respond in a relatively similar way and then in that relationships love and bonding occur simultaneously. The greater the imbalance or difference in each area however the less attached (bonded) or comfortable one or both people will feel in the relationship. When a person feels strongly capable or ready to love and be loved they become hopeful for, sensitive and/or willing to receive messages from their social environment. If the desire to show or experience love is weak participating in a romantic relationship becomes increasingly improbable. One may start, usually due to social or situational pressures; but the weaker the desire the less the person will be committed to the relationship and the less needed the four other pillars of romantic love will be and alignment is impossible. The stronger the first two elements the more desired the other four become in the relationship.
NON-ROMANTIC LOVE RELATIONSHIPS
Non-romantic love relationships are not very different from romantic ones though these are not necessarily or typically construed as loving. They contain the same six pillars; but the degree of matching or affiliation is not required to be high or strong for the non-romantic relationship to survive. Unlike romantic love, in non-romantic love a pronounced need for physical contact that supports bonding is not the goal. In both romantic and non-romantic love, weakness or misalignment results in shades of love that affect mutuality. At a very low level love/mutuality may be demonstrated as veiled disinterest presented as interest (as in: “We would love to hear from you…” or “…have you over for dinner” although the intension is very weak or absent). At a higher level of mutuality in a compromised relationship there is imbalance, such as in one-sided love, love expressed in a controlled or controlling fashion or based on rank, for example the forward, extroverted, wealthy or famous partner calling the shots. These relationships flourish when both partners need it; but only thrive to the extent that the disadvantaged partner puts up with the misalignment.
DAMAGED LOVE RELATIONSHIPS
These relationships are built on love-like feelings and interpretations, which may arise from needs such as to demonstrate power over others, establish territory and/or sexual need. Sometimes one or both partners may have need of a special type of one or more pillars, resulting in Pillars #5 & 6 being damaged. As such these types of love relationships are indicative of damage to one or more of the six pillars, which negatively interferes with true love-based responses. These relationships persist only as long as the needs exist.
… IF PROPERLY ALIGNED YOU NOW HAVE TO DO YOUR PART TO BRING INNER PEACE TO YOURSELF AND PEACE INTO YOUR LOVE RELATIONSHIP
RULES FOR ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
1. Practice showing respect, honesty and transparency towards your mate or the people in your love circle.
2. Desire & learn to understand the words and behaviors of your partner or friends, which means both your actions and words must be compatible with each other and each kept consistent over time.
3. Caring & empathy are essential.
4. It is necessary to have a strong desire for solving your problems but especially those between the two parties.
5. Clear, non-coded communication is essential.
6. Share intimate words & actions.
7. Make it easy for you & your mate or circle to experience positive reactions.
8. Quickly change & discourage your negative reactions, preferably by reframing and/or replacing the thought(s) that support them.
9. Maintain & assist interdependence; do not control openly or secretly.
10. Always strive to give understanding & forgiveness: fighting or conflict is not a necessary part of a loving relationship.
11. If you fight make it short, allow yourself the time to process the grudge to remove all of it; then call a truce. If your partner isn’t ready to make up, say you are but are willing to wait. If there are children who witnessed the fight, show them or describe (age-appropriately) how you made up.
12. Use your religious faith or life principles to help you maintain your love relationships.
HOW TO STOP FIGHTING
In almost all situations a response is determined by: a) An emotion, which is automatic and of very short duration and then b) How you usually accommodate that type of emotion and/or type of event, which will control the direction of the new response. This is to say the external event or what happened and how we respond to it, first primes us or gets us ready and then we act. Indeed how we will act is guided by how we have learned to react to that kind of experience, which means using the behaviour that has given us satisfaction on some level. These are the times when the familiar emotions are in action and we are responding with our usual thoughts and the behaviour they produce. To stop fighting (either what we tend to be doing or what just started) we need to change our customary way of thinking about the fight-events so that the emotions those thoughts support will change. Indeed, after we first feel angry or hurt room is available for a person to consciously and deliberately choose another way to react. In other words we are able to take over and direct the next thing we think about so as to get a positive feeling on some level. In other words, by this point we have thought over or learned a new and better way to respond to the experience that used to bring or prolong a fight. It is easy to see that if we do not have another way that’s the result of new learning or re-thinking we will react by picking the old response that has always resonated or pleased us but will never stop the fight. When we pick the choice to continue as usual, we feed the usually triggered emotion with the thoughts that keep it going. That’s why the feeling of anger, hurt or being put down etc. does not go away and so we come to get used to it as the “go to” reaction.
Let’s apply the general explanation to a specific situation. In a Marriage for example:
One spouse may say or do something that causes the other to be angry (anger being the customary or automatic emotion). Under this influence certain unconscious activities had occurred. For example:
1. In the offended spouse’s brain a flurry of unconscious activities is occurring. One of which is that the brain searches through “historical records”, that is: goes through information in memory to find how to respond and presents example(s) to the angry individual. The offended person may then pick the “go to” reaction, because it is familiar. This selecting action however is done consciously but automatically because that mind has been trained to pick that behaviour, because it has usually felt good. The angry person will feel right because of the power of the attached positive feelings. This rightness and past good feeling is the result of usually analyzing (thinking about) the event so as, for example, to give blame or fault to the offender. So now the angry individual reacts with blaming the other.
2. On the other hand however at this point of conscious reaction the person with anger is capable of interrupting the angry or vindictive thinking and take over (so their actions are no longer automatic) by considering that continuing to act angry is not removing the problem. So stopping the anger is the first step. This is really easy to do…
3. Knowing that thoughts give emotions life you can kill an emotion by removing the angering thinking supporting it. To do this you simply replace such thoughts with any other thoughts. For example even though everything tells you the opposite, you tell yourself to resist the tendency to see the other as being at fault or to use blaming or to see the situation as right or wrong. This will change the emotion from anger. But this is not enough…
4. You may then follow step 3 with new response-thoughts such as: “I shouldn’t make things worse… retaliating is not the high road… where did that come from anyway… I will set an example for the kids… I will surprise myself… a fight over this is lame… like the lame man on the moon… how do people come up with fables like the moon is made of cheese… how many poems can I recite ever or right now…” etc. Aloud you could say: “I am trying to not feel hurt (or insulted, angry etc) by what you/he/she/they said about me”. “You probably did not mean it the way it came across” etc. Do not allow yourself to fall back into a negative state or be drawn into further argument.
5. Do steps 2 – 4 every time a statement or action by your partner or member of your love group causes tension, anger or any unwanted feeling.
If both people in a special relationship or everyone in a group of friends practice steps 2 – 4 every time there is strife, couples and friendship groups will eliminate fights in their relationship.
Please Note: These steps are only to get you out of the negative emotion. How you wish to deal with the event itself that caused The bad mood is a different matter.
The resolution of the provoking problem is bound to be clearer when you are in control of your thinking. In a state of anger, sadness, fear, disgust etc. your thinking will be controlled by that emotion and will not be straight or rational. This means you may need to apply this method every time you reflect on or try to address that problem, when the unwanted emotions arise. So then it may be best to let go of the event go for a while and tackle it later in a clearer state of mind. Nonetheless this information about getting rid of troubling emotions will always improve the chances of getting to and solving (not just replaying) the underlying issue(s). If this information makes sense to you it is now up to you to choose between making a pledge to practice the ideas it presents or to go on fighting and irrationally refusing to do anything different. Even if you alone apply these steps it is worth doing for your inner peace or peace of mind. So when you finally succeed in keeping away or bringing the negative emotion under control and the opportunity is present it is now time to deal with the underlying problem.
Here is a system for solving problems in a relationship. I got it from a teacher a few decades ago. Its called VOMP, which explains the stages of how it works:
V – Stands for: allow yourself time to VENT. It means relieve the pressure of the emotion in the most controlled way you can, for example, cry, laugh, stamp your feet, take a few deep breaths, scream, while clenching your teeth depending on the emotion pushing to come out. Preferably this action does not have to be witnessed at all or be directed at anyone. The only effectiveness in this step is as part of a system that provides the user to continue to a next step. Otherwise venting alone goes on with no beneficial result. In fact it need not be done if you can make yourself get to the next step right away; and your goal is to practice moving on to avoid allowing the troubling emotion to return and gain strength. So you move on to the next step.
O – Stands for: OWN the part of the problem that belongs to you. In other words even as the offended one, think through what happened and try to identify what you might have done or said to cause or add to the problem, perhaps not even just in the present. You need to be very honest when doing this step. Again it is not necessary for another person to hear any of this. Take responsibility for your part and describe it to yourself or also out loud to the other(s), depending on what you know will best help the situation. By doing this you resolve a piece of the problem, which now becomes “smaller”, unless you find that you are the one most responsible for the problem. Otherwise this means what’s left belongs elsewhere.
M – Stands for: try to walk in the other person’s MOCCASINS, which means trying to see the problem from the other person’s point of view. That is, knowing your partner as you do how do you think or expect they are seeing the problem. It is permitted to politely ask if you don’t know what to think. Then use that information to try to understand the problem. This step is important even when you accept ownership of the major portion of the problem because you will have better understanding or sensitivity as you come up with suggestions for solutions.
P – Stands for: PROBLEM-SOLVE. As you now have all the pieces, most likely you are in a position to provide solutions. It may be an effective strategy to ask your partner for a “best approach”. You can discuss (not fight about) modifications that will make that solution workable on both sides. Use ideas from “How to Stop Fighting” to guide you. Once you get to a solution you are not allowed to return to the problem. Shake hands, kiss or celebrate (wink-wink-nudge-nudge)! It’s now time to move on in life.
Remember: With mutually peaceful intent, together, you can achieve and have so much more!