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Communication Skills

How to stop fighting with your partner

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shadows of  family hanging otgetherAt some deep level, we all want a world where there is both inner and outer peace.  The first step in creating this world is to do as Gandhi advised,

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” …Gandhi, a passage from Vol. 13 of his writings.

which has been summarized by modern spiritual folks to be the change you want to see in the world.  If you want to create a world with peace, then create peace in your own life first.  The spiritual theory is that if you change yourself, the world changes because we are all connected and one.  Let’s look at the hardest wars to resolve, the fights we have with our partners and loved ones.

Our partners and soul mates seem to know exactly which buttons to push to make our emotions reach Code Red (see my personal idea of a soul mate).  But, how do we achieve peace when we are angry or wronged?   You know, the times you want to yell and scream because your cherished soul mate is suddenly wrong, stupid, and inconsiderate?

Here are some spiritual tips on navigating challenging times with your soul mate.

  • See the perfection in another.    Spiritual wisdom reminds us that each of us is an embodiment of perfection.  This is not the flawless perfection that we desperately want for ourselves and demand from others. Instead it’s a holy perfection that refrains from judging others as good or bad, and sees the divine perfection in all of us.  It’s when we accept that a person is perfect as is.  In real life this translates to seeing the beauty and charm in our partner’s crooked smile, the breathy way they say their p’s, or their habit habit of slurping their soup.  It’s the pure essence of that person that shines through when your heart is open to really seeing them.   Last year, I talked to Arielle Ford, who beautifully describes her version of this idea as Wabi-sabi.
  • Let it be.  In the beginning of my marriage, my husband and I would argue as if we were two lawyers in a court of law. We’d drag out all the evidence of our correctness (e.g., “how about when you said the same thing two years ago at my mother’s house?!,” etc.).  The goal was for one person to feel morally and intellectually superior and win the debate. Somehow we missed the point that we were in a marriage, a sacred relationship, and forgot the relating part of the equation. Now in our 17th year of marriage, we have trained ourselves to understand the truth in each of our perspectives, and recognize no progress will be made if we are angry or in a bad place emotionally.  We let each other be, which means letting go of our own stories of blame and moving to a place of assuming the best in each other and seeing the perfection in the whole dynamic.  Sometimes this involves calming our anger down through meditating to find our truth (here’s a beautiful meditation to try to center yourself during conflict), which is another form of letting ourselves be before acting. (Note: If you’d like me to write a blog post (and perhaps listen to an episode) on my secret formula for resolving conflict, leave a comment below.)