A relationship requires give and take.  This is accomplished by talking and understanding each other’s feelings and dealing, especially, with issues that cause conflict.  How do you do this?  By being brave and having the courage to see the issue clearly, being willing to share your thoughts, and most importantly, to listen.  That way you gain understanding and are able to reach a solution if that is your goal.  Sometimes all we really want is for someone to listen, and help us figure out the issue for ourselves.  

Perhaps your significant other needs help defining the issue, or seeing themselves more clearly.  Perhaps your significant other needs you to see yourself, or your own behavior more clearly.  That isn’t a “problem” that needs to be solved so much as it is a request to explore and express true deep feelings.  Solving a conflict doesn’t always require action, sometimes just listening to our partner’s concern is enough.  Don’t rush to action, take time to understand.  We rush sometimes to defend our own actions, or to reach a solution, when all that is required is to understand how our actions may be making someone else feel.

We all must take responsibility for our own feelings.  One should always avoid saying, “YOU made me feel this way.”  Better to say, “I feel this way.  Here is the action/inaction that precipitated the feeling.  I know I’m responsible for my own feelings, but I’m having trouble getting past this one.”  Expressed as an angry complaint, one would say: “YOU didn’t put the cap back on the toothpaste!”  Expressed with love and compassion for self and your significant other, it might be said in this way:  “When you don’t put the cap back on the toothpaste, I feel like you don’t respect our shared space in the bathroom, and that makes me feel like you don’t respect me.”  Now we’ve gotten down to the real problem.

Almost all “problems” in relationships are feelings of not being loved.  Ask your partner, “how can I better love you?” and “how can you better love me?”  Another good question is, “How can I better love myself?”  Maybe the solution is having your own bathroom space where you can keep it as neat and clean as you like.  Sounds like love to me!  If you can’t have a separate space, then tell your partner that when s/he puts the cap back on the toothpaste, it makes you feel loved, and happy.  The saying goes, “A happy wife is a happy life.”  While that may be true, an updated version might be, “A happy spouse is a happy house.”  Both partners need to find joy in the relationship.  It is never a one-sided deal.

If what you want is a great relationship, communicating, understanding and being willing to look at your own architecture, as well as know your partner’s true self (scars and all), is necessary.  You wouldn’t be together if you didn’t love each other.  Remember that.  Think about the deeper feelings that might be involved.  Maybe your partner wasn’t respected by a parent, or in another relationship.  

Decide if you are magnifying the issue in your own mind.  Improve your own thoughts.  By doing so, you may improve your own mind state to the point that you don’t need to discuss the issue.  But if you do, remember to be honest, friendly and loving.  

Embracing conflict in a positive way, instead of running away from it out of fear of rejection, not only allows us to successfully negotiate relationship hurdles, but is honest and allows the other person to see the real you.  Being vulnerable and real is attractive.  No one wants their partner to fake happiness; that can be felt too.  While discussing issues may be uncomfortable, how much more uncomfortable is it when a relationship ends for lack of good communication?  It’s heart-breaking!

Understand.  Be compassionate with your partner.  Ask for compassion for your own internal struggles.  You’ll be surprised at the result.  You may even thank your partner for giving you a clearer understand of your own emotions.  If you practice listening and understand, you can more quickly getting back to your heart center where love resides.  Then, instead of dwelling on negative thoughts, small conflicts can be resolved quickly and they will stay small, and large ones will be met with compassion, a smile, and a positive mind set because you know any conflict can be resolved with kindness, understanding and love.

Peace, health and happiness, and most of all, Love,

Helen Berg