When Shit Hits The Fan: How to turn the most challenging moments of relationship into the most connective
Break Down in Relationship is an Integral Ingredient of Relational Growth/Evolution
So… Let’s Talk About Emotional Gridlock!!
Relational break downs are inevitable BUT you can alchemize them into the stepping stones that create deep, powerful connection between you and the ones you love.
Emotional gridlock is a fundamental factor in long term partnerships. It is when you and your partner come to an impasse on something and communication break down and you feel like you are in conflict, maybe going head to head, where the flow of the relationship seems to come to a halt.
It is experienced as friction that can feel unresolvable. Or fruitless resistance. Or this moments in relationship when you question if you can work through this together or not.
The purpose of emotional gridlock is FUNDAMENTAL to the growth of a relationship and it is designed to call us into co-creation with our partner (or other person).
It is the relationship’s way of saying “Tend to me.”
I spoke with my dad about this phenomenon this morning and he talked about the times we have run into emotional gridlock together and what he said to me I will never forget.
“I love you. Your relationship is the most important to me in the world. I know it will be uncomfortable and maybe even painful but I will come out the other side more mature, more integrated, and most importantly, closer to you. Why wouldn’t I go through a crucible with you?”
And I realized that this is another key ingredient of epic partnership. Is both parties making an agreement with themselves and each other that they will enter the crucible together. Them versus the problem instead of them versus each other.
It takes both parties to say “yes” to the work of growing through the crucible of gridlock to the other side.
The other side where you get THE FRUITS OF YOUR COURAGE, to be more grounded, more connected, more aligned, more expressed, more in love, more trusting of your bravery.
It only take one to say “no”, and prevent the evolution of the partnership.
Now their growth may not look identical to how you grow or the pace at which you grow, but are they TRYING new ways of showing up? Are they showing you with their actions that they are seeking answers in new places and ways? And then you must have an honest conversation with yourself of whether or not that can be enough for you?
If you refrain from choosing to see the crucible through to the other side, you are simply not going to have a relationship that grows. If you contort, avoid, bite your tongue, hide… you are showing your inner witness that you prefer comfort over evolution.
If your partner is the one choosing not to join you in walking through the crucible so that you can both mature, integrate, and actualize you have two choices.
1. To not grow (and usually end up resenting them for being someone they are not).
2. To leave.
It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” this emotional gridlock will occur. And it will happen throughout the cycles of your relationships.
Emotional gridlock is not something to be feared, it is something to be anticipated. I
It is something to be appreciated for the role it plays in the evolution of you, your loved ones, and your relationships.
And it is something to be prepared for with powerful agreements with yourself and others.
So the most powerful thing you can do, should you want to be a cultivator of epic love and partnership in your life time, is create an agreement with yourself for how you are committed to showing up to those moments of friction and gridlock WHEN they happen. Because they will.
Mine is that I will lean in when I want to run for the hills. That I will do my best to be curious and creative WITH my partner to solve the problem, not treat them as the problem. I will always give the partnership the benefit of the doubt FIRST, that it is strong enough and that we are strong/smart/compassionate/courageous enough to solve the problem. That I will choose curiosity and love over fear and assumption. And that I will employ outside support to help me see what is in my blindspots so that I can show up as powerfully as possible for my partnership.
And while this does not guarantee longevity of a relationship, (remember it takes two to say ‘yes’, and only one to say ‘no’), what it does does guarantee that I can trust myself.
That I am a fierce, brave, loving partner/friend.
And that if at any point my relationship(s) should end, that I can relax with peace of mind that I showed up the very best that I could and that is what I ask of and expect from myself.
What is your agreement with yourself for how you show up in relationship?
If you’ve never thought about it before, imagine yourself 3 years into you IDEAL DREAM relationship and ask that version of you how he/she/they shows up in partnership?
How courageous are they?
How fierce of a truth talker are they?
How relationally generous are they with their partner?
What are the philosophies this future version of you lives by so that they can contribute to the flourishing vibrancy of their partnership?
*** David Schnarch writes about this in depth in his book Passionate Marriage. I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone who is on the journey of consciously creating relationship regardless of what stage you are at (single and mingling to long term marriage).