The Beautiful Art of Communicating Through Conflict
I have been thinking a lot lately about my own journey as an empowered woman, and how my communication has changed as I have evolved, and how it has also stayed the same. I have been thinking a lot lately about marriage, and how married couples resolve conflict. And I have been thinking about how communication in marriage is everything, particularly during times of conflict.
I consider myself to be a master communicator, particularly in romantic relationships and marriage. This is a skill that I developed over time, and if you could drop into my childhood and see the environment I grew up in, you would know what I mean. You see, I grew up in a rather volatile household, where conflict seemed a daily occurrence between my Cuban mother and Cuban stepfather that spilled over onto me and my brother. The combination of high volume, Latin passion and a lack of respect within our house made for an atmosphere of very little or no compromise, let alone calmness in resolving conflicts.
The first time I witnessed how couples can have an argument, communicate through conflict and have a loving resolution remains a distinct memory for me. I must have been 10 to 12 years old at the time and I remember it like it was yesterday.
We attended a family picnic in a park, and I remember seeing a couple that looked very happy, holding hands and being with each other in a sweet and kind way. Then, almost without warning, the woman stood up and raised her voice to her man. You could see she was very upset with her partner. He looked concerned, even worried, and I remember seeing him just stare at her as if she was from outer space!
Although I had no idea what they were arguing about, it was clear that an argument was taking place. She walked away and he followed her. She started crying and I saw him try to console her. She then pushed him away again and raised her voice. This went on for a while. Then, eventually, I saw them come together, embrace, and carry on, being kind and loving again. Witnessing this process from beginning to end left a lasting impression on me, because I had never seen it before.
What I learned from this is that couples can be madly in love, have an absolutely amazing relationship and still have disagreement and arguments. Women can yell and completely feel utterly frustrated with their person but still overall have a loving relationship. As an empowerment and relationships coach, I have learned about and coached women through all manner of communication in marriage. And my own marriage is no different.
I consider my husband and I to have a really good, loving and respectful relationship. But, oh boy, sometimes he does or says things that truly catch me off guard, leading me to have hurt feelings. And I know myself to be the type of woman that definitely feels all the feels. I have accepted that I can be sensitive woman, and that’s totally fine.
I don’t know about you, but my experience is that sometimes men aren’t aware of their women, they just don’t get it or they forget how to communicate, and they say something where you seriously think your head is about to spin. When that happens in my marriage, those are the moments I want to yell at the very top of my lungs, look at him and say, “Did you seriously just say that?” Because it’s in those moments that It’s about to get heated in our house, because the worst thing to do with a conflict is sweep it under the rug, where it festers and generates resentment.
What I know about us women is because we have different hormones coursing through our bodies at any given time, we are amazing, emotional human beings. For goodness’ sake, we actually grow and birth humans, and we bleed every month going through our menstrual cycle. It’s in these moments of conflict that I realize I have an obligation to myself to work towards resolution. These are the moments that I choose to communicate what I need to communicate in the way I need to do it, with all of my own Latin passion.
This is what I know about myself and my husband. Even if we are in a disagreement and I am emotionally all over the map, I remain aware that while there can be friction, arguing, disagreement, even raised voices, I know that we will always find our way back to one another and communicate from our hearts once again. We have set boundaries with one another and we are clear about each other’s communicaton styles. I have much respect for my husband. Sometimes things are not perfect, but it’s real and authentic and I learn something different about myself.
I’ve learned that I’m human, and relationships tend to bring up all kinds of thoughts about ourselves and how we show up in relationships. I learned that relationships can bring up all of our insecurities. I’ve learned that relationships can challenge us to grow with our partner and learn how to coexist with each other. Sometimes it’s magical, and other times you can look at your person and wonder how in the world you ended up together. Sometimes you want to crawl into your partner’s loving arms, and sometimes you want to pack it all up and leave. It all happens in a marriage.
I never understood the saying “Don’t ever go to bed angry.” Why not? I don’t know about you but there are times that I need time to process my emotions. And if we continue trying to have a resolution it doesn’t go anywhere (and sometimes gets worse). However, if I take some time to rest and regroup, it helps buffer the intensity of the disagreement or argument.
I’ve learned that women need to be able to express themselves in whatever way feels right for them. We don’t need to be any other way then who we are. If what works is an occasional loud voice, then so be it. Sometimes that’s what it takes to communicate with our man because he may say or do something that can actually anger his woman. Even the loving, most well-intentioned husband can say things that can drive a woman temporary mad.
Woman and men have disagreements, of course, because we are completely different genders and have different perspectives. Sometimes we women need time to think and sometimes we need quick resolution.
The marriage that thrives has room for all of this. Married couples who thrive understand that it’s not a straight line, but an up and down journey through time. Strong marriages have one thing in common in the relationship that’s respect. It’s the continuation of the dance. Sometimes he leans in, sometimes he pulls away. Sometimes us women lean in and sometimes we need space. That’s the natural ebb and flow of relationships. As long as we are communicating our wants and needs and also being aware of how we show up in our marriage, then our marriage should become stronger over time. Good, solid relationships that last do so because they have love, respect, forgiveness, commitment, laughter and trust. That’s a committed relationship.
There is truly no one special way to be in a committed relationship. What matters is if you are good with how you are showing up in yours. Are you happy and in love with your partner, and if not, what needs to be communicated? Do you have forgiveness when things are not aligned with each other, and if not, what are you holding on to?
Sometimes we come to resolution quickly, and sometimes not. Sometimes we must let it go and move on for the greater good of the relationship and the overall peace. Whatever form of communication you have with your spouse, understand that however you need to communicate is fine, if your person communicates with you in return. We will never be able to read each other’s minds and we will never truly know what each of us needs and wants are unless we communicate that with them and ask them to do the same.
There is truly no perfect way to do relationships because everyone is different, but there are guidelines and ways to be with one another with healthy boundaries. We all need boundaries; we all have our personal needs and that’s a beautiful thing. Relationships are meant to enhance our lives, so have amazing, loving, fun relationships.
If that is not happening, then figure out what needs to change. Seek professional help from a coach or counselor to help you navigate through it if things are rocky. Good relationships can get rocky at times, but that doesn’t mean it’s over. It simply means there is some readjusting that needs to happen and sometimes an objective third party can give you a new perspective that you didn’t have before.
My hope for women is they continue to have amazing relationships with their spouse, partner or lover. I hope that each women understands that the way they need to express themselves is absolutely fine. If you need to be quiet, then do that until you are ready to communicate. If you need to raise your voice, then that’s okay too.
So be who you are and communicate what needs to be communicated with your partner. Also remember there are times that the only form of communication needed is to let it go and move on without any leftover anger or hurt feelings. It’s normal for us women to express ourselves in whatever form suits us. But it’s also our responsibility to know what best suits our empowerment, to know when to stay the course in a disagreement and when to let go. Ultimately, you are the only one that can determine that.
Well ladies, that is what I have for you this month. I hope this message gives you more freedom to be your fully empowered self in your relationship, and especially during times of conflict. Remember that all you ever truly need to be in your relationship is your amazing self!