Finally, the last of the Principles.
These last four are the ones that allowed my former husband, Steve and I to have a very civil and loving transition out of our marriage. When relationships are ending emotions are usually at their rawest and tempers rise and we aren’t always at our best. It’s very difficult to stay conscious and stick to the principles during that time. However, if you can do this you’ll come out so far ahead of most people.
If one has bad feelings about the other during or after a disagreement they are not allowed to blame the other for these bad feelings.
This is really about taking personal responsibility for our actions and feelings. We may not control our emotions (how they arise, when they arise) and we have 100% control over our actions. No one “makes” us angry or sad or unhappy. Situations cause certain emotions to arise and as responsible adults it’s up to us to deal with them as adults. That means no playing the blame game. It also means no “you made me” or “you did . . .” or “you . . .” conversations. Start conversations with “I feel” or “It occurs to me” and go from there. “I feel sad that we are fighting.” “It occurs to me that I’ve we can’t find a solution to . . . “ You get the picture.
Past disagreements are not valid issues during a current disagreement – no “generalizing” and no “bringing up the past” is allowed.
It is so easy to bring up the past. We live in the past so much of our times that it’s the first thing that comes up. So many times our disagreements with each other remind us of similar issues and concerns from weeks or even years ago; especially if we haven’t yet fully dealt with those issues. It’s really easy to fall into the “You always do X” or “This is like when you did X” which derails the current conversation and muddies the issue. Keep the past in the past and stay present when working on issues. This doesn’t mean that if there is a pattern of behavior that is damaging to the relationship that you can’t bring it up (such as a partner’s issues with drugs or alcohol or cheating), it just means that you need to stay in the present when discussing it. Not how it hurt you in the past or how they always do X. More like “this pattern of behavior is currently causing me distress”
Short breaks from arguments are allowed but when possible disputes should be resolved on the same day they begin.
Sometimes we need breathing room. This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s kind of the old “don’t go to bed angry” meme. That said, if you need to take a break, do so. When you feel your temper getting the best of you. When you find yourself on the verge of breaking your agreements and not following the principles, a simple “I need a break, please” is all that you need to do. And, no matter how much you want to get your point across at the exact minute, if your partner asks for a break, be okay with it. Let them take a break. I guarantee the issue will still be there later and with a break from each other, solutions might arise during the time apart.
If a departure is necessary during a disagreement it must be cordial and considerate.
Yes, this is also important. Leaving quietly and politely is paramount. No running out of the room crying. No marching out slamming doors. No matter how much you think you would make you feel better, it’s a form a control and in some ways borderline abusive to create a scene either in a disagreement or as you are exiting one. Keeping your cool is vital during disagreements.
These aren’t all the agreements you may want to create between you and your partner or partners. Start with the principles and go from there. See what is important to you and your partner(s) and create agreements you all can live with and live up to. And you may not feel that all the principles I’ve outlined are necessary. That’s totally acceptable. Create your own principles. Mine are just a starting place.
What I really want to emphasize is that you need to have the conversations in the first place. No matter how long you’ve been together and no matter how well you think you can read each other –YOU ARE NOT A MIND READER AND NEITHER ARE THEY (unless one of you are a Betazoid ). You need to keep that in mind at all times when dealing with issues in your relationships. Be up front and open. Do not be afraid to let them know how you’re feeling. This is one of the key components to healthy relationship.
Next up a talk about some legal stuff that will keep your relationship on good terms and make transitioning easier on you.