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Are your primary relationships more like a battle or a car ride?

Are your primary relationships more like a battle or a car ride?

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Published by sharewik
What needs to be done when you can't properly communicate with your partner?
What needs to be done when you can't properly communicate with your partner?

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Published by: sharewik on Jun 11, 2010
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05/24/2012

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 Are your primary relationships more like a battle or a car ride?
By Elaine Taylor-KlausCommunication in relationships often works its way around a series of raising and lowering of shields.
Effective
communication can only really happen when a truce is called, and both sides lowertheir defenses.
Successful
communication lives where there is no impending threat of war.Recently, my husband and I were in an out-of-sync phase. I was ´dealing with some stuff inmy life,µ and then he was ´dealing with some stuffµ in his. Even though it wasn·tintentional, both of us started to slowly raise our shields. Maybe he started to raise his first,and then I started to raise mine³or maybe it was the other way around. It doesn·t reallmatter. The result was just the same.Conversation became stilted, limited to the details necessary to continue on with our busy lives. Shields up, connection down.I was aware of the disconnect, the divide that was starting to expand between us like abarricade of sand bags set up to hide sight and sound, and to take the direct shots. It hadstarted feeling more comfortable to hide behind the barrier, to retreat to a place of presumedsafety.I think you know what I·m talking about. Many relationships wear this constant state of defense like a crisply starched uniform, from the army boots to the epaulettes.Fortunately for us, my spouse started reaching out, looking for our common ground. Hebecame more communicative, broadening the conversation. He smiled more. He was trying.By then, of course, my shields were well established. Despite my awareness of his repairbids, it took some time for me to lay down my sword and stop taking things personally. Thankfully, he waited. He didn·t ¶re-arm· himself while I was trying to lower my defenses.Finally, shields down, connection up. We could move forward.
 
In telling this story I become aware of how often we use military references in describing ourrelationships. I don·t think it sets a great foundation, do you?Its amazing how often we talk about our connections with people in hawkish terms: pick your battles, lower your shields, call a truce, lose the battle but win the war, take the firstshot, send in the reinforcements, stick to your guns, negotiate world peace (if you·ve everspent time with 2 or more kids, you know about this), détentes. And that doesn·t even beginto address the battle of the sexes. There is such power in the language we use. With military analogies, relationships can·t win for losing. Such metaphors create a zerosum gain. Rather than victory, there is a constant battle which lasts the duration of arelationship, or sometimes a lifetime, whichever comes first. Think about it: how often do you consider a potential conversation or action with thestrategic prowess of a General? It happens more often than we realize. Ask yourself: do you really want to be ¶doing battle·-- with your teenager, or your spouse, oryour parent, or your supervisor, or your employee--all the time?Imagine the impact of shifting our perspective from one that is adversarial, to one that ismore collaborative? Remember the Middle East in the 70·s when Carter and al-Sadat shook hands? Talk about a ¶shot· heard around the world! (See, it·s hard to stop!)Rather than roadside bombs and sniper attacks, we can shift our thinking to the support of irrigation systems and building new schools. When we start to consider the needs and wishes of the other person, and get out of our own way, it is amazing how relationships canflourish.Changing how we approach our relationships, from combatants to allies, leads to morepositive outcomes.It·s time to pull our intimate relationships out of the barracks and put them back into thekitchen, or the office, or the classroom where they belong.So, what if we replace all of those martial metaphors with driving analogies? Try to imagine each person in your life as another car on the road. Each car has its ownlane, its own path to take. We can choose to go in the same direction as each other, or

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