A man comes into the kitchen and says to his wife “I want a divorce.” “I am in love with someone else.” His wife looks up at him dumbfounded and says; “after all the years and memories we invested into our marriage, you want a divorce???” “Have you thought about our daughter’s life if we separate?”
He says to her that he has been miserable for a long time and he has nothing left to give, then pushes the divorce papers in front of her. He continues to say, you can have anything you want, I just want you to sign.
She then realizes it’s over. Dis-heartedly she says I will sign the divorce papers under two conditions, and it has nothing to do with our money. He is anxious to hear what she wants, and she then states that she doesn’t want their daughter to know about the divorce because she is having some difficulties at school. The second thing is, she wants him to carry her into the bedroom for a week every night before bedtime. He responds with relief; then he shows a willingness to do it.
The first night he feels awkward. When he picks her up and holds her, she lays her head on his chest and whispers to him of their first date. She retells the memory of her tripping when going to the restaurant and breaking her heels and spraining her ankle. He said I carried you to the restaurant and you were so beautiful.
On the second night, he is watching TV and feels a bit irritated by her interrupting the game when she asks him to carry her into the room. She then says you promised. He smiles at her and picks her up cheekily. She rests her head on his chest and he melts. He smiles down at her and can’t believe how fragile she has become. Then feels the connection returns.
In his arms, he retells their memory of their honeymoon and how he carried her into the bridal suite. She smiles and they both tear up. He looks into her eyes and kisses her gently on her forehead. He places her in the bed and tucks her in.
Nights follow and the same ritual happens. On the fourth night, he can’t wait to pick her up and carry her into the bedroom. While he is picking her up their daughter comes in clapping her hands and saying yeah Daddy is carrying mum again and gets really excited. She turns to him and says do you remember when my waters broke in this exact spot and you came running towards me. You reassured me when I was scared and rushed me to the hospital and now, we have our beautiful daughter.
He can’t resist and kisses her passionately while she is in his arms. Then proceeds to carry her to the bedroom. While he is tucking her in, she says do you promise that when we go our separate ways you will look after our daughter. She needs you. His eyes fill up with tears and says, of course, I will.
The next day he wakes up extra early and leaves the house. He goes to his mistress and tells her that he has changed his mind. He does not want to divorce anymore. She is confused and then becomes angry. She pushes him out of her house and says don’t you ever talk to me again.
Excitedly he rushes to the flower shop and buys flowers. He returns home and finds his wife still in bed and bends down to kiss her. Placing the flowers down. She shows no sign of movement. So, he kisses her on the forehead. Wake up I want to tell you something. Nothing, no movement! He then observes a letter on the bed that says read me. He opens it and starts reading:
My darling husband,
You have been the love of my life. I have been hiding a secret from you for years and now it is time to tell you. My time has come to an end. I have been fighting cancer for two years, but I didn’t want to burden you with it.
Thank you for being my husband and being Maria’s Daddy. Please care for her and I will always cherish how you carried me. Till we meet again.
My only love
With this, he falls on the floor crying out “if only I knew”
How many of us expect our relationship to magically become a safe haven of trust, commitment, romance and passion. Yet, are we ready to invest time and work into it?
Instead, we are quick to get irritated with our partner. This woman could have avoided cancer if the painful relationship didn’t eat her up.
Unfortunately, this relationship is typical of many. On average we talk to our partners on a one-to-one basis for about 35 minutes per week, and this is for mundane things. Like what food is for dinner.
Many believe they live in an individualist culture where they can survive alone. They think of their needs first. Yet, we are born as pack animals and would die without human touch and connection according to Gottman. He researched and followed couples’ behaviour over about a 50-year span. This is what he found successful couples have.
Conflict is essential for a relationship to grow.
Gottman expressed a method of getting to the heart of an issue without over-dramatizing it.
These are simple tactics for investing into each other to avoid suspicion, betrayal and falling out of love.
Unfortunately, every relationship is aggravated by problems. Gottman expresses two types of problems, solvable problems and perpetual problems. We will devote some time analyzing the solvable problems first as they are less intense then the perpetual and are easier to deal with.
A solvable problem
can arise from having to pick up the children from extra lessons when both partners have work. One says they are going to but forgets. It is a solvable problem because you can solve it by leaving reminders in certain places next time.
Steps to solve solvable problems are:
Next the Perpetual Problems.
These are the intense problems that can show from the beginning of the relationship, they can show up as the differences of personalities or the lifestyle of the individuals. These make up for 69% of all problems and unfortunately are difficult to solve. An example of perpetual problems in Cyprus which is a small island with ridged religious beliefs is one partner is an Orthodox while the other person is a Muslim, or another example is one is neat while the other untidy. Also, it could be one likes to wake up early the other late.
According to Gottman, a perpetual problem should be addressed by:
Therefore, in order to solve conflicts, you break the cycle of fights by time out from the flooding of negativity p. in a conflict. For 20 minutes without thinking of the argument so your physiological arousal decreases.
In contrast, the disasters way of dealing with the issue is to again see the problem as a ball. But they use the ball as a weapon and kick it into the other person. They use sarcasm, mockery, contempt and defensiveness.
It is true that some people believe they should avoid the conflict altogether because they don’t want to get into being persuaded and that is fair enough. But it is good to talk about things. Conflict can be good because you are going into issues that will bring you closer together and make you happier. You can bring your partner closer to you and feel connected. Conflict avoidance may lead to emotionally withdrawing. It may lead to you feeling lonely, neglected, misunderstood and abandoned. Emotions are a part of growing with your partner.
Conflict should be done in a calm soothing way where you listen to the speaker. If they are critical, defensive or blaming, you break their habit by telling them it is not about personality flaws. Use I feel and need statements. Approach conflict in a concrete way by I really feel sad when I have to go to bed alone. I miss us. I need a hug. In this way, you are inviting them to connect with closeness.
There should be gentle startups to a conversation. P. 18-19 Softening the interactions with good humour, laughing at yourself and being kind, generous and natural. Your partner becomes your friend, not an enemy. Reduce stress by listening with empathy. Then reunite by expressing yourself and this will lead to.
Finding the bridge to connect emotionally
You need to bridge the distance between what you need and what your partner needs. Become fond of and admire your partner. It will do wonders in the bedroom, giving you passion and romance. It will also develop into love and respect. Talk to each other with love and appreciate the small things you both do. So instead of looking for the flaws in each other’s character scan for the things they do well. This will nurture gratefulness of what you have and diminish resentment of what you haven’t got.
Couples that stay together are those who when arguing say over 5 positive things to each other to one negative. They use positive reactions to difficulties use humour, empathy and affection.
Use lead to a separation by operating on according to john Gottman the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are:
Criticism is to complain about the faulty personality of your partner.
Instead, use I feel, and I need statements. Like, “You talked about yourself all night. I feel hurt and I need some attention now.”
Defensiveness: Defending your point of view and even acting a victim. The opposite of this is using righteous indignation which means meeting a complaint with a counter-complaint. So instead of acting like a victim, you could accept responsibility. Like in the above case, “you talked about yourself all night,” you say “Good point I was really stressed out all day. I had a rotten day. Sorry honey, how was your day?
Disrespect and contempt, this is the worst out of all. One partner shows superiority as if they are on a higher plane. They name call and use insults. The proper way of acting is to show respect for and be proud of your partner. Employ a culture of appreciation. Scan to praise instead of degrading.
Stonewalling this is when you emotionally withdraw. When your partner bids for affection and you then disengage. The speaker is likely to become aggressive and will lose emotional investment into the relationship.
By sidestepping the above you will have more fulfilment in the relationship. So instead of destroying the relationship, you could invest in it. You could build a bridge to connect to friendship and intimacy.
Following is a summary of the above in three different ways.
Enhancing love Maps, getting to know your partner’s inner world. What their values, hopes dreams and excitement is. This is done by asking open-ended questions.
Fondness and Admiration showing small acts of kindness through being proud, appreciative and showing admiration. Express your appreciation to your partner and don’t keep it in your brain.
Bids for emotional connection this is when your partner talks or bids for your attention you turn towards them. If you do this the next time, they ask for attention, your bank account of love will increase.
Your relationship is like a bank account you have to invest emotionally in the above so when conflict arises your irritability and resentment for the other person diminishes. The above nurtures gratefulness of what you have not resentment of what is missing.
This leads me to the positive sentiment override. This is a fancy name for repairing the relationship when conflict rears. We all mess up but when we calm down and we have invested in our partner the positive sentiment/ things we have done correctly override the negative. Using the above enhancing love maps, fondness and admiration and bidding for emotional connection, you gain true friendship. Then you can regulate conflict. When you regulate conflict your sex life, passion and romance increase.
As mentioned above most conflict does not always get resolved because underneath each conflict is the fear of a dream not being met. Our character is our past programs our DNA our bones. This is our history and experiences which dictates our dreams. So, a fight about one person being neat and the other untidy might have nothing to do with the issue of leaving clothes lying around but everything to do with freedom, power, caring, love, family or self.
By gently kicking the problem or ball to each other you invest in love, you are strong enough to take responsibility and allow your partner to do so. You then open the gridlock of your partner who through the conflict trusts you enough to be vulnerable and allow their gridlocked dreams to be unlocked. You catch the dreams of your partner and allow the aspirations to materialize. We must invest in the relationship, so it becomes deeper and you share a meaning system which builds something more profound. It goes beyond us, it gets cross-cultural, to each other’s experiences, and heritage to become a better daughter, sister, mother grandmother through time.
In short, a relationship should be about investing in the emotional back of love through the 3 acts of kindness: enhancing love maps, fondness and admiration and bidding for emotional connection. 69% of conflict cannot be resolved but can be tolerated easily by investing in your partner and their dreams. You should not attack the personality by using criticism, defensiveness, disrespect and contempt and stonewalling. But instead, ask open-ended questions and find the underlying sub-heading under the problem and address it to release the dreams of your partner who is defending their character and bones so they will not be hurt.