Yearnings: Follow Your Inner-GPS to Express Your Wants and Needs in a Relationship

Do you feel like you’ve been fighting over nothing lately? Does every little thing become a nitpicky fight between you and your partner?



Are you expressing your wants and needs in your relationship? It’s a tricky question, but one that most of us have pondered before.

We believe (or maybe expect) that a relationship should meet our wants and needs. We hope that our partner will “get” us and do those things that help us feel connected, happy, and fulfilled. But most of us have probably realized that our partners aren’t mind-readers. We have to express those feelings to get them on the radar—but how?

If we want to meet our wants and needs in a relationship, we need to dive in and discover our yearnings. Here’s how.

When the Thrill is Gone

It may sound harsh, but even the best relationships hit rough patches. As the old song goes, “The thrill is gone,” and some of us might be wondering where it went

When a relationship starts, we’re often energized, engaged, and ready to put our “best foot forward.” But after a few months or years, we shift out of the lavender haze and may start to feel a loss of connection. We may feel like we’ve been fighting over nothing lately. Every little thing becomes a nitpicky fight between our partner and us.

After we cool down and step away for a minute, we might think,

  • “If we could just get away for a few days, we’d probably get along better,” or…
  • “If we’d just have sex, I’m sure we would feel reconnected.”

We may feel dissatisfied, but we can’t pinpoint the actual problem. We know that neither partner is having an affair. No one has a substance abuse problem. We still genuinely love and care about each other, but we don’t get the same sense of excitement we once did. We may even find ourselves thinking about other people or remembering other relationships fondly.

Essentially—the thrill is gone. But is it really? And more importantly, can we get it back?The good news is that all of these common relationship feelings are rooted in our yearnings.


We long to have our wants and needs met in a relationship, but we might not know how to get there. These longings are what we call yearnings. They are feelings that we all have—hunger of the soul. They go deeper than “I want to look good naked” or “I want to go on vacation.”


Yearnings speak to the desires of our heart:

  • We yearn to be acknowledged and known.
  • We yearn to be seen, valued, and loved.
  • We year for respect, connection, intimacy.

For most couples, yearnings and unmet yearnings are at the root of dissatisfaction and at the heart of every fight. Our yearnings drive us. Like GPS, they steer us toward the direction of greater happiness and satisfaction. Our yearnings push us toward the things we want.

We often say that yearnings make couples tick, and unmet yearnings tick couples off.

We can imagine for a moment: what it is like when our yearnings are met in our relationship. Think of a time when we got home, and our partner’s eyes lit up when they saw us. They told us how much they missed us and couldn’t wait to hear about our day.

Imagine telling that partner about something extraordinary that happened during the day and knowing our partner is thrilled for us. Envision asking them for something that we really wanted—a dinner, a long walk, a conversation, physical contact—and having them enthusiastically agree. Or imagine telling them something we’re dissatisfied with, and they acknowledge our feelings and work together on a resolution. These would be examples of interactions that speak to our inner yearnings.

When our yearnings are ignored or unmet in our relationship, we may find ourselves drifting in opposite directions. Maybe we’re feeling distant from our partner, but we aren’t sure why. We might be afraid to bring up problems and discuss our feelings because we’re sensing a hidden middle finger (or giving one ourselves). We might withdraw from the relationship and feel a sense of disconnectedness.

Expressing Your Yearnings: It’s Not Actually About His Socks on the Floor

Our yearnings are extremely powerful. They go deeper than wishing that our spouses would stop putting their socks on the floor. But sometimes, something as simple as socks on the floor can make us feel like our yearnings are ignored and brushed aside. If having a clean, organized home is important to one partner but not the other, there might be an incongruency. That difference is underscored when the preference isn’t something that’s been clearly expressed. Often one partner doesn’t realize the importance of picking up the socks, while the other partner feels ignored and frustrated.

Years of socks on the floor pile up, and so do frustrations. Each night the irritation builds as we silently pick up our partner’s socks and seethe about it. Eventually, this can lead to resentment. We make a crack about our spouse’s sloppiness to friends. We make something he hates for dinner. We ignore his comments about his day. We’re silent and angry, and our spouse is confused about why we’re so cold and annoyed with them.

But at the root, we probably grew up in different households with differing standards of cleanliness. To one partner, socks are no big deal—a sign of feeling relaxed and comfortable. To the other partner, socks on the floor are an affront that says, “I don’t care about the work you put into our household. I don’t respect you or notice your efforts.”

We’re often engaged in these little power struggles in relationships, and we aren’t even aware that they’re happening. These little resentments and actions build up and can even cause explosive fights that seemingly go nowhere. Our partner might start picking up the socks, but it doesn’t resolve the underlying issue. At the root of the fight is often an unmet yearning.

Yearnings are significant wants and needs in a relationship. They may be:

  • Yearning to be respected,
  • Yearning to be cared for,
  • Yearning to be safe and secure,
  • Yearning to nurture and grow, and
  • Yearning to be appreciated.

Notice that nowhere on this list is “yearning for picked-up socks.” That’s because the true yearning isn’t really about the laundry pile. It’s something more poignant that runs much deeper. Yearnings are connected to the core of our humanity, existence, and identity.

Wants and Needs in a Relationship vs. Yearnings

It’s important to understand because there’s a difference between basic wants and needs in a relationship and yearnings. We often express what we think are our wants and needs, but when we get them met, we still feel unsatisfied, as though the larger issue still looms.

  • We can want our spouse to have sex with us more frequently.
  • We can want her to clean out the car when she uses it.
  • We can ask him to stop splashing toothpaste on the bathroom mirror.

When we express our wants, our partner often complies, but we may still feel annoyed. We feel like we’re nagging them or like we always have to tell them what we want. That’s a sure indication that we haven’t addressed the deeper yearnings behind our desires. A superficial action, like putting down the toilet seat or rinsing a dinner plate doesn’t really address the heart of the issue. We find ourselves running around mopping up water without fixing the broken pipe and addressing the source of the leak.


Real, true satisfaction and intimacy come from expressing our yearnings and understanding why they matter to us. This can happen in or out of a relationship. It’s about first doing the work to understand what’s going on inside our hearts and minds.


The great part is that when we identify our yearnings, we can find many different ways to get them met. It’s not just about relying on one person to do a specific action. We may yearn to connect with others, and we can do that by connecting with friends, coworkers, family, or our spouse.

If our partner simply complies with our expressed demand without understanding or learning our underlying yearning, the interaction might feel hollow or superficial. We aren’t getting those feelings of being acknowledged, appreciated, or loved. We’re simply training someone to pick up socks.

Our Yearnings Matter!

So, what about when we fight? We don’t really yearn to “win” the fight when it comes to fighting. Yes, we may want to express our point; we may think we want to win. But after we feel briefly superior and proud of our status as the “winner,” we might realize that we haven’t solved anything at all.

At the heart of many of our conflicts is fear (or the simple fact) that our yearnings aren’t being met and that we aren’t clearly expressing and requesting them from our partners. Yearning is at the core of our survival. Yearning to love and bond keeps mothers caring for their children. Yearning to be safe, sheltered, connected, and respected all have a biological imperative behind them. When our yearnings are met, we experience a rush of feel-good emotions and chemicals. When our yearnings are ignored, we experience a flood of fear, adrenalin, and stress hormones.

When we understand the neuroscience beneath our yearnings, we can quickly see why they’re so powerful and why they play such a strong role in our conflicts, especially with our partners—the people we rely on and trust.


When we feel frustrated about something our partner did, we can step back and ask ourselves, what is the underlying yearning? What do I really want from them? Is it that I want to be seen? Heard? Respected? Connected? When we identify those yearnings, we can try expressing them.


What would happen if we asked our partner for more physical contact? What if we explained why a clean house makes us feel more secure? What if we “went there” in conversation and brought our yearnings out into the light?

If we want to build stronger connections and get our yearnings met in our relationship, we must first identify them within ourselves. Then we can take steps to express our yearnings to our partner. Acknowledging our yearnings is the first battle, one we must wage within ourselves. As we come to a better understanding of what drives us, we can start expressing those wants and needs to our partners. Ultimately, when we say what we really want in our relationship, we’ll strengthen our bond and start getting closer.

For more ways to strengthen your relationships, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses to help you build stronger connections, discover more about yourself, and move towards the life you want—a life of more. Start getting what you want today!


About the Author

judith

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Happily Never After: Why We Should Get Over Fairytale Romance

Looking for a storybook love? Here’s why we should get over fairytale romance and work toward a relationship where we can be our real selves.

 

We all want a fairytale romance, but Prince or Princess Charming isn't real. Here's how to make romance work, the real way


How many of us have idyllic pictures of romance in our heads: frolicking together in the snow, playing on a sandy beach, living happily ever after? Society, movies, books, and even our social media accounts have set us up with expectations of fairytale romance that are false and potentially damaging.

When we set the bar for perfect relationships at “living happily ever after”—meaning never engaging in any conflict or working toward deeper understanding—who can expect anything but failure? Almost all of us have this Cinderella perspective on our relationships. We think it’s up to our partner to make us happy. Or we believe that our significant other should be our soulmate. If we only find “the one,” we’ll resolve all our problems and live perfect lives.

The truth is, we are the only ones who can make ourselves happy. It is not our partner’s job (nor is it even within their power). Beyond that, no one has a perfect relationship. Part of unlocking your relationship’s full potential and finding happiness alongside your partner is letting go of the myth of the “fairytale romance” (and maybe even embracing our inner ogre).

Embrace the Adventure of Romance

Romanticized and idealized versions of fairytale romance we’ve seen depicted in the media leave us feeling like our relationships are inadequate. We end up in a constant state of disappointment because we’ve walked in with ridiculous expectations since we watched Snow White and Cinderella in our childhoods. This “Disney love” leads to devastation and confusion when our real-life relationships don’t quite match our fantasy ideals.

We have to dump these false ideas, get over fairytale romances and instead embrace the reality of what we have. We also have to realize that no one has a perfect relationship. Those couples who seem to have an ideal connection have likely learned to engage and fight together FOR the relationship.

But of course, it’s hard to let go of the idea of a fairytale romance. It’s not that we can’t have affection, warmth, or love, but it’s that the concept of a fairytale romance is based on a false premise—an idealized version of reality. We can still have plenty of intimate moments and times when we laugh, smile, and get warm fuzzies about our partner. Romance is still great—but it’s the REAL romance we’re looking for, not the fairytale version.


If we explore the real idea of romance by looking up the definition, we get, “Romance is 1. A brief, intense love affair; or 2. A sexual love when another person or the relationship is idealized.” Yikes!! That doesn’t sound like true and lasting love or a life-long connection! The third definition, which speaks to the truth of romance, is 3. Romance is an exciting adventure with the potential for heroic achievement.


Now, doesn’t that sound a little more accurate and much more exciting? Who wouldn’t want to be a brave hero or heroine who conquered their weaknesses, recognized their strengths, and embraced the adventure of relationships?! But with adventure comes risk, and yes, even a little danger and vulnerability.

To have the kind of connection that lasts, we have to be brave—to share our truths and allow ourselves to show who we are. Intimacy comes from authenticity, so we need to “get real.” We have to be unafraid to enable our inner ogre to come out and say all of those things we feel afraid to share, warts and all. Being our true selves is the real challenge in relationships. It’s all about honesty, making our yearnings known, and expressing our feelings openly and without reservation.

Life, just like romance, is an adventure. It’s fraught with conflict and ups and downs, but if we let go of the myth of the fairytale, we get to the real heart of the story. As we explore in our book, The Heart of the Fight, when we get real and honest with our partner, we start to fight together and work FOR the relationship. Challenges bring us closer together.

Love isn’t easy—and it shouldn’t be. Love is beautiful because it nurtures us and forges us into who we can become. We have to work for it, but engaging in a partnership with another person makes the adventure so much better.

Great Relationships Require Great Fights

We’ve all had fights with a significant other. What happens? We get sad, thinking that the relationship is undoubtedly doomed if we’re fighting.

We all know fights and conflict can be a little scary sometimes. We engage and express our feelings, and then we measure our partner’s reaction. If it’s positive, we might keep moving forward, but if it’s not, we might find ourselves withdrawing to avoid more fighting. As humans, we move toward pleasure and away from pain. It doesn’t always “feel good” to fight, of course, so we might find ourselves avoiding confrontation (even if we feel upset).

When we hold our feelings in, we actually drive our relationship further apart. By holding back and avoiding conflict, we might think we’re doing our partner a favor. We’re suppressing our feelings for the betterment of the relationship. But if our relationship is important, then it’s worth fighting for what we really want!


Growth-oriented relationships are going to have conflict. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, that conflict strengthens us and enables us to develop into our potential more fully. With work, our relationships can help us during that struggle, providing both a womb to grow and a crucible to forge our emerging selves.


So rather than shutting down at the first sign of trouble and heading for the hills (or clamming up and giving the hidden middle finger with passive-aggressive actions), we can express our feelings openly, even if they piss off our partner. Growth-focused relationships require us to keep fighting it out. We have to understand each other and say what we feel, even if it’s tough.

If we find ourselves falling into a pattern where we avoid conflict or where our partner avoids it because it’s just more comfortable, it’s time to step back and assess.

If he’s dissatisfied and she’s dissatisfied, then there’s definitely conflict to be had. Some issues need to be brought out into the open. It’s the time to lay it all out on the table. Test the relationship and really push the limits to see if it can go the distance. When we have reservations in relationships, we should explore them, understand them, and bring them out into the light.

Real Intimacy Comes from Conflict, Not Riding Off into the Sunset

In fairytales, no one ever discusses their concerns or problems. When did Sleeping Beauty bring up her feelings?

Fairytales and romantic movies tell us a story about the very beginning of a “magical” relationship; couples “meet-cute.” They may have a problem (usually an outside force) that they have to overcome, and then, you see the happy couple sail off into the sunset before the real relationship even gets started.

In reality, when you’re first starting to get to know each other, that’s the time for working out all the nitty-gritty conflict. The beginning of relationships can be absolutely critical moments to put your honest self out there, which means letting your partner see you at your worst, not just your best. If you put on a front or put your best foot forward, when will they fall in love with the real you?


Real intimacy is forged through conflict, not avoidance.


When we make relationship decisions, we often do them out of convenience or because we’re at a time in our life where things feel like they’re in a natural pattern. However, whether a lease is up, your friends are getting married, or you’re afraid of being alone, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to jump in fully. Don’t slide into your relationship. Decide to move forward with intention and purpose.

Get the truth out! We should tell our partners what we want and what we need from them. We should be working on ourselves together. Engage in your relationship and examine the pieces. If you have reservations, address them and get everything out in the open if you have concerns.

Will it always go smoothly or look like a movie? No way! But when we get over fairytale romance, we can start working toward a real, fulfilling, strong connection—one where we both get what we want and need from the union.

Committing to expressing our truth is one of the most significant gifts you can give to your relationship. It keeps it real and viable. It keeps you both moving forward, looking to the future, and growing together. Great relationships require great fights. Real intimacy comes from that ongoing honesty and openness.

Ready to explore more about getting the relationship (and the life) you want? Don’t miss our courses on Wright Now. We have many personal growth, relationship, and career courses and training available to stream. Start getting more out of life by unlocking your full potential!

 

 

Understanding Yearning:
The REAL Deep-Down Reasons We’re Always Fighting

How many times have you had a conversation (or all-out fight) with your spouse or partner and been left baffled? You may be wondering where their frustration even came from. (Because it certainly seems like it came out of nowhere!) Or sometimes, it seems like you’re always fighting over the SAME things.


Most of the time, you’d really like to know, “What the heck does he/she want from me?!?”

We’re talking (or yelling), but we’re not communicating. We’re not connecting. Chances are, we’re hearing but we’re not listening.

In your relationship, do you hear (or use) phrases like, “You never help around the house,” or “You’re always nagging me about money.”

Or…

“You’re just like your mother.”

“We never do what I want to do.”

When these phrases come up, there’s a disconnect. Someone’s not making contact, but neither of you know why. You’re fighting, but you’re not even sure what you’re fighting about.

To get to the heart of what you want AND what your significant other really wants, you need to look past the word want…you need to understand the word yearn.

Wanting vs. Yearning

Yearning isn’t a word we use often. In fact, it might seem antiquated or strange. “Yearning.” It sounds like something from a novel or a movie, not something normal, modern people do—right? It paints a picture of a maiden in distress with a handkerchief on a fainting couch…

True yearning is a feeling that comes from deep within. It’s beyond wanting, desiring or longing. It’s our deepest need. This isn’t wanting your husband to wash his dishes or even wanting your friend to return a phone call. Yearning comes from a deeper place.

Everyone in the world yearns for something. We yearn to love and to be loved, to matter, to be significant, to be seen, and to connect with each other and with a higher power. We might yearn to achieve mastery or to belong and to contribute. Our yearnings run deep from within us.

“Unmet yearnings are at the heart of every fight, and when they are met, they become the heart of our intimacy and satisfaction. Learn to unpack your fights to get to the yearning underneath. Actively pursue your yearning moment to moment, and you have set a solid cornerstone for intimacy.


Yearning is no soft, needy, touchy-feely, nice-if-you-like-that sort of thing. Each of us—all seven billion people on the planet—has been hardwired to yearn. Harness the power of yearning or you’ll be negating one of the things that brings you the most satisfaction and the most power to your relationships.”

The Heart of the Fight


The funny thing is, yearning isn’t something we naturally and readily identify. It actually takes practice to discover it first within ourselves, let alone in a partner. Part of the elusiveness of yearning comes from the immediate gratification we get from scratching our “wants” itch.

Think about it: when you want something—a piece of chocolate, a clean house, a new gadget—you might really focus until you get it. You might fixate on it, even. Once you get the thing you desire, you get a little buzz, a little boost. You feel good and you think, “Ooh, I got what I wanted.”

The buzz, however, is fleeting. It doesn’t last, and it’s not fulfilling. It’s great in the moment, but it fades when the next want comes along. We get upset when our wants aren’t met, but we’re not really upset because the house is messy or our partner threw socks on the floor (again).

We’re actually upset because it feels like our partner isn’t acknowledging us. They don’t see us, or we feel unsafe, unloved, or disconnected.

How to Get to the Heart of Your True Yearnings

If you’re having a hard time separating a want from a yearning, try applying the “so that” test.

For example:

“I want a promotion, so that…I can have more money.”

A promotion is a want is a want…is a want. Keep applying the “so that” until you can’t anymore. Like so:

 

“I want a promotion so that I can have more money.”
“I want more money so I can be able to have more fun and skydive more.”
“I want to skydive so that I feel the thrill.”
“I want to feel the thrill of skydiving so that I can feel alive.”

“I want to feel alive … I yearn to feel alive.”

-7 Relationship Myths eBook

 

It takes a good deal of practice and some work, but eventually you’ll start to unlock the true, deep-down yearnings of your heart. Once you know these truths about yourself, you can start to articulate and express them clearly. Yearning is the first step to bliss.

Battling Towards Bliss

When you start to acknowledge the underlying yearnings in your fights and figure out what you’re really looking for, a light goes off and fights suddenly become a lot more productive and a lot less destructive.

Suddenly you’re fighting FOR the relationship, rather than against each other. You’re fighting to meet each other’s yearnings, rather than yelling about unfulfilled wants. You’re not saying, “You never pick up the house.” You’re saying, “I yearn to be acknowledged.”

For couples, fights revolve around unmet yearnings. We either expect our partner to be fulfilling our yearnings for us, or we don’t know how to fill them for ourselves. When we do the work and start to discover who we really are, what drives us and what speaks to our heart, we become better communicators.

We stop expecting our partner to “fix it” or “make us happy” (a big relationship myth) and realize the happiness and the fix comes from within ourselves.

Figuring out your yearnings is the first step to greater understanding and more open communication with your partner. We go into more detail about how to use conflict to strengthen your relationship in our book The Heart of the Fight.

Please join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where you can start to unlock your yearnings and discover what’s really inside your heart. Visit us at www.wrightliving.com for more details.

 


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

 

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


Loving the content and want more? Follow Judith on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

 

 


 

How to Handle a
Hostile Work Environment

So you’ve decided to embrace the power of positive thinking. You’ve learned of the paradigm shift a positive outlook can bring about, and you’re ready to bring the change into your life. 

Unfortunately, your coworkers seem to have missed the memo.

Whether your office is experiencing a “case of the Mondays” or worse, it can be deflating and defeating to work in an environment where you’re constantly battling the negative vibes of others.

Now, it is true that people complain and vent at work. It creates a sense of camaraderie and a shared experience. Sometimes it can be an attempt by your coworkers to make small talk or simply connect.

Even if those around you seem to feel very strongly about their negative complaints, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re terrible people or even bad employees. When we’re invested in what we’re doing, we’re going to feel strongly about things. Emotions go into our work and when we’ve poured in our blood, sweat and tears, we can be easily wounded, frustrated or upset simply because it’s so important to us. Our work and our careers can be a big part of our identity and how we see ourselves. This doesn’t make for light emotions.

However, some people just bitch to bitch. It has nothing to do with them feeling strongly about their job or caring too deeply. It’s just that they feel like “harshing your mellow” and raining on your parade. Your positivity might rub them the wrong way or they may simply be someone who hasn’t realized their negative words and thoughts lead to more frustration and sorrow.

The first step in how to handle a hostile work environment is to separate the naysayers and Negative Neds and Nancys from the truly hostile, toxic people. There will always be complainers, and while they might be frustrating and annoying to deal with, they generally aren’t out to make your work environment intolerable.

Dealing with Complainers

When you’re faced with a Dan or Debbie Downer, try to shift the conversation. Focus on having more meaningful interactions with them. Offer to grab a cup of coffee and lend them an ear. Remember conversation is about give and take.

Ask your coworker, “What did you do this weekend? Why was it so great?” Conversely, if they say, “Thank God it’s Friday—this week can’t be over soon enough,” ask them, “What’s been so bad about your week?” Sometimes, when they start to articulate all of their complaints, they’ll have a change of heart. You might hear, “Well, actually it wasn’t so bad, I’m just looking forward to something exciting this weekend.”

Suddenly the conversation has gone from a litany of complaints to a meaningful connection focused on positive activities and excitement about the future.

Try to see the truth in who your co-worker is, and realize they’re a person who wants to be heard and understood. Maybe they just don’t know how to express things in a positive way or they see co-conspiring as a way to build a connection. Find a way to connect beyond the collusion by looking at them a little closer, and listening to what they’re really hoping to say.

Embracing Your Own Positivity

Lead by your example. One of the easiest ways to keep focused on the positive is to BE positive. When someone begins the transformational growth process, they often start with initial bravado and enthusiasm.

Even in a hostile work environment, you don’t have to be “fake” or pretend everything’s great to work on your positive mindset. It’s still okay and even healthy to acknowledge you feel fear, sadness or frustration. Those emotions, while negative, need to be expressed as well.


“When fear is allowed to operate beneath the surface, however, it does the most damage. When people quit things it is often because they fail to acknowledge and deal with their fears so they rationalize instead. Typically, they approach new activities brimming with confidence and even cockiness—generally a sign of someone not listening to their fear. They communicate that they’re ready for anything, be it a new job, new school, or even a marriage—that they have no anxiety about what the process requires of them. As much as their gung-ho attitude provides them with initial positive energy, this energy can easily turn negative. It begins to sound an alarm in their unconscious mind, warning them about taking risks, about trying new activities, about pushing themselves into areas where they aren’t skilled or comfortable.”

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


Acknowledge your truth and the spectrum of emotions you might be feeling, but approach experiences as growth and learning opportunities. View each situation as a chance to learn more about yourself and to get closer to your goals and vision. See your fear and harness it rather than avoiding it. Rather than setbacks, look at obstacles as opportunities to reroute and discover even more about yourself.

Dealing with Toxic Coworkers

Even those of us with the most positive intentions will now and again run into people who are just downright toxic. These people, try as you might, just refuse to connect with you, engage or move forward. What’s worse, they might even be thwarting your attempts to grow or do your work. They can make your job downright miserable, and certainly contribute to a hostile work environment.

When you’re dealing with someone who’s truly toxic, don’t be afraid to confront the issue. Surprisingly, sometimes bringing it out on the table and saying, “Look, I feel like you’re angry with me or I’m rubbing you the wrong way. This is what I want to get done and where I’m trying to lead us. Explain what you’re trying to get done and let’s see if we can find a way to get on the same page.”

If they balk at the confrontation or continue to try to sabotage you and throw you under the bus, don’t let your negative coworker throw you off course. Keep your communication with your boss and leadership strong and open. It doesn’t mean you need to “tattle” to your boss, but if a toxic coworker has become more than just an annoyance, there may be formal complaints and other management interventions needed.

In most cases, however, confronting the person and letting them know you’re feeling upset, picked on, bullied or otherwise annoyed with them can help you get things out in the open so they can be addressed. Sometimes they might not even be aware of how bowled over they’re making you feel or how their hostile attitude is affecting you and the team. Bringing it out into the light is the first step to resolving the issue.

Keep your interactions at work focused on the “big picture.” If you steer off course, always bring it back to your personal vision and how it aligns with the vision of the leadership in your organization. Look at the good you’re doing within your workplace and how you’re helping others and making the world a better place. If you can find the good and positive in your job, it will be the silver lining to make each day (even Mondays) better.

For more on how you can move forward in your life with positive intentions, please visit Wright Living. Find out how you can transform yourself and those around you by bringing more light and goodness into the world. Be your best self!


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright

 

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How To Stop
Arguing with Your Spouse :
DON’T!

 

Are you tired of all the fighting? Do you feel angry at your partner a lot of the time? Do you feel nagged at and annoyed?



Does this sound like you?

  • My partner/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend and I fight all the time.
  • I want to know how to stop arguing with my wife.
  • I want to know how to stop fighting with my husband.

 

You may be surprised to learn that the most amazing, healthy couples fight—and many happy couples fight a lot! So the question isn’t how to stop arguing with your spouse—it’s: “How can we learn to fight better?”

How To Stop Arguing with Your Spouse: Steve & Tammy’s Story

Steve and Tammy* (*names changed) recently came in to see us for couples counseling.

“I feel like I’m always angry at Steve!” Tammy said, obviously frustrated. Tammy felt that Steve wasn’t helping around the house. While they both worked full-time, she was always the one responsible for cleaning and chores after a long day at the office. It was clear Tammy wasn’t one to get confrontational, but she said she knew Steve was aware she was irritated.

Tammy liked to treat herself for all her hard work by shopping and going out with friends. Steve was increasingly concerned about finances and becoming more and more controlling with the credit card, even though in her mind they were doing fine financially. She felt like he was always harping on her about money or acting passive-aggressive and annoyed when she went out.

Throughout our meeting, Steve sat quietly, arms folded and withdrawn. After a while, he spoke up.

“I’m not really that angry,” he said. “I’m just tired of being criticized and nagged at all the time. I work hard too, you know.” When Steve got home from work, he wanted to relax. He expressed that when he did try to help out, Tammy would redo his cleaning because it wasn’t up to her standards. Eventually, Steve says he adapted a “why bother?” attitude.

Meanwhile, Steve felt Tammy spent lots of time going out with friends, but she didn’t really enjoy the outdoors, while Steve felt a strong connection with nature. Yet, Steve reported that while these things bothered him, the only thing he really felt frustrated about was money and that Tammy was always pissy about the house.

So how did Steve and Tammy get to this point? What were the underlying issues? Would they ever stop fighting?

What are the real reasons couples fight?

Enough with the Fairytale Romance Illusion!

We’ve been sold a fairytale romance illusion that love is supposed to be soft and romantic. There we are, hair flowing in the breeze, running toward each other with our arms outstretched. We picture the final scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s when they realize how much they love each other and embrace in the rain, desperately, beautifully kissing and falling into each other’s arms.

Instead, for most of us, love probably looks a bit less glamorous. We find ourselves dueling over dollars, engaged in family feuds, and acting passive-aggressive all too often. We throw out the “you always” and “you never” statements, only to hear, “You’re just like your mother!

When we coach couples at Wright, we so often hear concerned couples say things like, “It seems like we fight all the time,” or, “I feel like we just don’t get along anymore. We’re always angry at each other,” or worse, “I just don’t care anymore.”

When our real-life relationships are in such stark contrast with the Hollywood ideal of love, it’s easy to assume something must be wrong and our relationship must be irreparably broken. We wonder if we’re broken. We think someone else might make us happier, or maybe someone else might be easier for us to deal with.

But the truth is…

Love Is Messy!

Love isn’t glossed over and perfect. It’s NOT like we see in the movies. Love involves fights and frustrations. Love involves moments when your wife doesn’t ever fill up the gas tank in the car. Love is the moments when you find a washer full of wet, smelly laundry because your husband overloaded the washer and forgot to change it out.

When we come into a relationship, we have certain expectations and ideals of what it should look like. When we date, we’re often in a state of joy and in “la-la land.” Everything our significant other does is cute and sweet. Maybe they annoy us sometimes, but we’re attracted to each other, we’re regularly having sex, and we’re going on dates and doing fun, exciting things together.

After years go by, we end up with a mortgage, careers, kids, and regular “life stuff.” It can feel like the thrill is gone. Now we’re just going through the motions—constantly frustrated, annoyed, and arguing. We might be wondering what we’re even fighting about anymore.

15 Common Couples’ Fights & What They Really Mean

After years of working with so many couples, I’ve seen quite a few Tammy-and-Steves. While every couple is unique and facing different approaches, different yearnings and different backgrounds, many of their fights are similar. In our book, The Heart of the Fight, we reveal 15 common couples’ fights.

There’s “Dueling Over Dollars,” “Family Feuds,” “You Embarrassed Me,” and several other fights that probably sound all too familiar to most couples.

Most fights aren’t silly or invalid, so looking beyond the surface of the fight is key. There are great concerns, underlying feelings, and a whole history of baggage lying beneath.

Conflict isn’t the problem. Conflict is the way we address and resolve the underlying problem! The answer is in fighting fair. To help you fight fair, we’ve developed these rules of engagement to ensure your fights draw you closer together, rather than resulting in cheap shots, hurt feelings, unresolved screaming matches, and too many nights on the couch.

Instead of asking how to stop arguing with your spouse, you have to ask yourself WHY you’re truly fighting and if you’re fighting FOR or against the relationship. Are you fighting FOR ways to make things work? Are you fighting FOR the understanding of your partner? Once you reframe your fights and get down to the real issues at the heart of the matter, you’ll find you’re battling towards bliss, rather than driving a wedge between you.

Steve & Tammy: The Aftermath

The WHY Behind All the Fighting: It wasn’t so much that Tammy and Steve were miserable in their relationship. It’s that they were both sitting on their resentments and neither one was addressing the root issues.

Tammy was spending money and going out to fulfill her emotional needs and she didn’t feel supported or acknowledged and appreciated. Steve was feeling criticized and inadequate. They both felt their yearnings weren’t being seen, acknowledged, or met.

So what were the roots of the real issues? Tammy was feeling unsupported and as though her household contributions weren’t appreciated. Steve was operating with a limiting belief from childhood that money was scarce, so he felt he needed to be diligent about budgeting and watching finances. When Tammy went out, Steve felt like his fears were being ignored and invalidated. Both partners were shutting down and building up silent resentment rather than confronting their concerns and getting them out in the open.

Once we opened up the dialogue and helped Steve and Tammy realize their conflict could be productive and positive, they were able to air their feelings and express their yearnings.

Was it perfect and romantic? No, of course not, but they ended up finding more intimacy and strength in their relationship—and they became closer than ever. Real intimacy comes from expressing yourself and being seen in truth for who you really are and what you need. Conflict can bring us closer and make us stronger as couples. Really!

To learn more about healthy relationships and living your best, most amazing life please join us for our next More Life Training.


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Love Is Messy:
Learn the Secret to
Awesome Relationships

Life is messy. Love is messier. Why? Because life and love are full of conflict. Conflict is the very basis for life as we know it; we are born of struggle and growth.


Whether you tend to embrace it or shy away from it, successful, happy relationships require conflict. When we don’t develop our engagement and conflict skills, we end up as bullies or wimps: either we avoid everything or we plow over everyone in our path. That’s no way to live.

Time and time again, I hear people say they want intimacy, but they don’t want the mess. To have real intimacy, there must be conflict and vulnerability. Intimacy involves putting yourself out there, engaging, and letting yourself be seen in the truth of who you are.


“If you want true love, you will need to feel everything: the fear, hurt, anger, and sadness, as well as joy and bliss.”

–from The Heart of the Fight


Getting Real and Fighting Fair

Here are a couple of the common relationship myths we bust in The Heart of the Fight:

  • Conflict resolution doesn’t lead to great relationships.
  • The purpose of a relationship ISN’T to make you happy; it’s to make you your best.

That’s why conflict is so important. It’s the root of lasting satisfaction. Conflict isn’t just about being right or wrong. It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing, either. It’s about letting out the truth and making your truth known.

When we avoid fights and stop engaging with each other, we become passive aggressive. When this happens, we try to act like we’re being nicey-nice toward our partner, when we’re actually holding back and bottling up our feelings. Those feelings have to come out somewhere, so we end up doing all kinds of little things just to “show them” how we feel—without actually showing them anything. We call it the “hidden middle finger”—we get silent, we do things to purposely piss off our partner. We pout around expecting they’ll get the hint.

These actions don’t help the relationship grow. Instead, when we’re being honest and agreeing with the truth—always (one of our rules of engagement), there’s no room for passive aggressive actions.

Here’s another great rule of engagement: we must fight FOR the relationship, not against it. That means sometimes you have to outright declare what it is you’re truly fighting for. Maybe you’re fighting for acknowledgement. Maybe you’re fighting to meet a yearning, like to be seen and heard, or to be valued. Whatever you’re fighting for, you have to embrace the messiness. Fight hard for the things you want, and get your partner to fight alongside you. If you’re both fighting for, rather than against the relationship, you’ll be able to resolve conflict in much more satisfying and growth-focused ways.

Really Going At It? Anger is OK!

Ever since we were little kids, we’ve been told to get along, not to fight, and to agree with things as much as possible. We’re told to listen to each other and not to interrupt. Unfortunately, this can lead to conflict-avoidant behavior, which becomes the complete opposite of intimacy.

When you need to be heard, it’s okay to yell. It’s okay to be angry and let it all out. Your partner has the right to express their feelings as well—as long as you each take 100% responsibility for your own emotions and feelings and you’re not placing more than 50% of the blame on one side (two more rules of engagement from our book). Too often, we find ourselves bitching and moaning about our partner, “venting” about the things they aren’t doing. The essence of complaining is to punish someone for something we want that’s not happening.

Complaining doesn’t get us anywhere.

Instead, we should be expressing our yearnings to our partner. We should be telling them what we want and how we feel. We should both be engaged and fired up, because our relationship is so important to us that we’re willing to take the gloves off and go all out to improve and grow within our relationship.

The Real Secret to Awesome Relationships

Healthy relationships are dynamic, alive, and engaged. Everyone in the relationship is expressing themselves and saying what they want. They’re putting their yearnings out there and taking responsibility for their satisfaction. They aren’t blaming someone else for the way they feel and no one is playing the victim.

In healthy relationships, we’re always caring about our partner’s needs as well as our own. We assume goodwill in the relationship. We want to help our partner meet their yearnings. We’re both fighting toward the health and evolution of the relationship. We are honest and we’re being seen for who we really are.

Love is a complex and messy dance. It’s revealing ourselves, shifting, and learning how to get closer and gain a deeper understanding of our partner. It’s exciting as we develop increasing trust. We can be vulnerable and honest about who we are, and we grow to let our guard down and be truly intimate with each other. We evolve with our partner and move towards a deeper and greater understanding—and that is a beautiful thing.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.
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To learn more about how you can deepen your growth and move toward a greater understanding of yourself and your relationships with others, join us for our More Life Training. Our focus this year is unlocking your personal power. Learn how to engage, ignite, and energize your life and connect with those around you.

About the Author

Bob-300x250-1

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Image courtesy of Flickr user pinkmarina licensed under CC by 2.0.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

A Couple’s Guide to
15 Common Fights,
What They Really Mean
& How They Can
Bring You Closer

We’re so pleased to announce the release of our new book, “The Heart of the Fight.” In the book, Judith Wright and I draw on our many years of experience, both in our own relationship (which I can tell you has quite a bit of conflict once in a while) and in the relationships of many of the couples we’ve worked with over the years.


We’ll talk about the beauty and the messiness of love. Believe me when I say: love is a lot of both. Many people have these notions that love is always going to be like it is in the movies. The reality is sometimes love is more about the knock-down, drag-out, emotional upheaval that ultimately serves as a platform for growth.

Love is both a womb that nourishes and a crucible that forges us into what we can become. It’s nourishing, but it’s also intense and deep, and the best love puts you through a lot of tests so you can come out stronger.

Conflict is Good…Really!

We’ve been raised with this idea that conflict is bad. Arguing and fighting must mean something is wrong, as in: “We’re always fighting. We just don’t get along.”

We hear it time and time again. Truth is, couples who are engaged with each other (those who go “all in”) will experience conflict. It’s inevitable. It’s a struggle over your yearnings and meeting the yearnings of the other person. It’s a struggle to be seen openly and honestly for who you are and to have the other person know you, accept you, challenge you, and bring out your best.

I worry much more about the couples who say they never fight.

If a couple cares for one another and cares about working toward common goals, they will experience conflict. Conflict means you feel. As for those couples that “never fight”? Chances are they’re just going through the motions. They’re “over” engaging with each other and working together. Maybe they’ve even given up.

It’s time to get back in the fight. By learning the rules of engagement, couples can learn to fight fairly and productively. They can learn how to work toward (and fight for) the relationship.

The 7 Rules of Engagement: Fight, Don’t War


the heart of the fight rules of engagement


The first two rules: Accentuate the positive and Minimize the negative. This doesn’t mean just blowing smoke or trying to pretend everything’s fine when it’s not. Often when we’re really angry at our partner, we get in this mode of believing that absolutely everything has gone to hell. If we step back and look at the positive aspects of our relationship (the way our partner nurtures us, the good parts, and the fun times) and minimize the negative things (the way your partner balls his socks up on the bedroom floor), we can gain a little perspective.

Next rule: No one gets more than 50% of the blame. How easy is it to blame everything on the other person? For example: “Well, I tried to say how I felt, but she didn’t listen, and now it’s all her fault…” Nope. It’s so easy to become the victim of our partner’s behavior, which causes us to fall into the drama triangle. Just like EVERYTHING isn’t entirely your fault, everything isn’t your partner’s fault either.

On the same note, the next rule is another one we’ve mentioned a few times: You are 100% responsible for your own happiness and satisfaction. It isn’t your partner’s job to rescue you or make you happy. It’s your responsibility to work toward your own happiness and it’s your partner’s responsibility to work toward theirs.

Rule #5: Express and agree with the truth, always. The truth might not be what you want to hear. In fact, the truth might be, “You’re really pissing me off right now.” This rule is about expressing the truth and being honest about what you’re feeling. When something is wrong, it’s so easy to say, “It’s fine,” and then spend the rest of the day shutting down and withholding. It’s much more difficult to express what you’re feeling. The truth is hard. The truth makes us vulnerable, and we don’t always like to be vulnerable. You must be trustworthy in your relationship.

Likewise, always Fight FOR (not against) the relationship. When a couple is working toward the relationship, it shifts the approach. You’re fighting to get on the same page. You’re fighting to make the relationship work. You’re fighting to be with each other.

The last rule: Assume good will. In all my years of meeting with couples, I’ve met very few who are actually “out to get” each other. Chances are very likely your partner doesn’t exist just to make you mad and they don’t go through their day scheming ways to make you miserable. Often in the tit-for-tat war couples engage in, a feeling of paranoia starts to build. Assuming good will helps you realize that, at heart, your partner probably wants what you want: to make things work and to learn, engage, and grow together.

As we explore these rules of engagement and get to The Heart of the Fight, we’ll also look at key skills for transformational change and consciously engaging in your transformation. You’ll start to invest in your heart and soul and in the heart and soul of your partner to keep your relationship going strong.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio.
Check Out Lifestyle Podcasts at BlogTalkRadio with Wright Living on BlogTalkRadio.


About the Author

Bob-300x250-1

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Always Fighting?
Conflict is Common,
But Fight Fair

Whenever we hear someone say, “Oh, we never fight,” it always raises a few red flags. If you’re really engaging with another person, there’s going to be conflict!


Things are never going to be perfect.

Dating and relationships can reveal so many “a-ha!” moments. After all, dating is a great opportunity to learn new things about yourself and the ways you set boundaries as you engage in (or shy away from) conflict. When you go out with someone, are you panicking at the first sign of conflict? What about when you’ve reached a make-or-break moment in the relationship? Do you commit to holding your ground, or do you backslide after a few weeks and assume more than your share of the blame?

Many of us have a very difficult time with conflict—understandably, of course. We all have limiting beliefs that are comprised of sets of preconceived values, perceptions and ways of dealing with others which shape our relationships. We may catch ourselves avoiding unpleasant emotions (like hurt, sadness, fear, or anger) because they’re uncomfortable for us. However, even when our emotions make us uncomfortable, that doesn’t always need to be a negative thing.

Our emotions, even if they’re unpleasant, can be great tools for growth, as they can help us understand ourselves on a deeper level.

Assuming Fault or Passing Blame?

Often, many of us have a tendency to want to assume everything is our fault—OR to assume any disagreement is ALL the fault of the other person. When a relationship ends or when things aren’t going well, it’s usually not just because of one thing we’ve done or said; it’s really about the bigger picture and the roles each of us play within the relationship. What yearnings were expressed and met, and what yearnings were held back out of fear?

When conflict arises in your relationship, there’s a set of rules to help you and your date or partner fight fair. In our new book, The Heart of the Fight, we discuss these rules of engagement. For example, did you know that everyone is responsible for their own emotions? Here’s another great one from the book: no one takes more than 50% of the blame.

When dating, you have this great opportunity to “play” with all of these rules of engagement and really feel them out. You can meet someone and in the first few sentences you might have an immediate connection…or you might have to work to find the connection. Neither way is wrong and both give you a chance to learn new and exciting things about yourself, about another person, and about conflict.

Fighting More Frequently? Stay True to Yourself

Once you’ve been on a few dates, you might find that conflicts arise more freely. This is something to be celebrated rather than feared! When you’ve reached the point that you’re comfortable enough to be honest with yourself and tell your date how you feel, it’s a great moment in your personal growth.

Some of us find we go into a relationship ready to debate, engage in conflict, and discuss things open and honestly—but we hold back on building the emotional and softer side of our connection. It’s still a question of whether or not you’re fully engaged. Again, neither approach is wrong, but the challenge is in how you can continue to express your truth. Are you being you?

Emotions and connections make us vulnerable, which can be frightening. When we’re putting our real selves out there and being open and honest, we’re in a place where we may be rejected or hurt. And let’s face it, that doesn’t feel good. The real joy is when you can look at the situation and no matter the outcome (whether it was a great connection or a not-so-great connection) you can say you were 100% honest about who you were throughout. That’s the awakening.

When Relationships End

If you just can’t reach a give-and-take point or if you feel stagnant in your personal growth, it might be time to move on. If you feel you’re being honest and engaging with the other person but it’s just not there on a fundamental level, it can be difficult.

Breakups never feel good. They leave us questioning our actions, and wondering if we were too reactive or if we were really honest in what we wanted. We question if we held back our emotions due to fear or anger. We can question everything about ourselves.

The great news is a breakup is a great time to reevaluate and lean on your friendships and support system. It can give you a chance to work through growth and even find an eventual way to get back to sharing a friendship after a cooling-off period (assuming you WANT to continue a connection and found the friendship nourishing).

Breakups aren’t fun, but they give us a chance to sort out what we want and how we can better express our desires and yearnings. They allow us to examine the interaction, and we can rest easy knowing we were fully engaged, we didn’t shy away from conflict, and we approached the relationship with honesty and openness.

Dating and relationships can be fraught with opportunities for both awakenings and disturbances, but both can be moments of beauty and growth.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio.
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Join us every two weeks on Wednesdays at noon CST for our podcast Bring Out Your Best! where we discuss dating, relationships and being your best self. To continue the conversation on engaging with others and to discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

Dr Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


Loving the content and want more? Follow Judith on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

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Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user prendio2.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

 

Addicted to Conflict?
Here’s How to Save
Your Relationship

Many of us fear conflict. We take it as a sign our relationship is doomed or damaged, so we avoid it. We hold back from engaging with our partner because we’re afraid of fighting—yet, we end up feeling disconnected when we do.


 

What happens at the other end of the spectrum, though? What happens when it seems like all you do is fight or when it feels like the only way our needs are being met and we’re being acknowledged is when our partner is angry?

In our forthcoming book, The Heart of the Fight, Judith and I discuss some of these themes surrounding relationship conflicts. We talk about the rules of engagement and fighting fair. We also talk about the ways conflict can actually strengthen your relationship—because when you’re fighting, you are engaged.

In the first years of a relationship (even the first ten), we’re engaged in a control struggle and we’re trying to find our footing and balance of power. We want to be loved in an open and honest way, and to be seen for who we really are in the here and now. Our partner wants the same and we’re pushing each other back and forth in this battle to see if we can test each other. We’re trying to see if our partner will really meet our yearnings.

Through this testing and conflict, trust is built—and respect. I’ve talked about the ways our relationships are both a crucible that forms us and a womb that nourishes us. It’s a place for transformation, where we can learn and grow, and yes, transformation causes heat and conflict.

What to Do When You Want a Partner to Change

One common source of conflict is the desire to change or modify the behavior of a partner. Maybe you’re a vegetarian and they’re a meat lover or maybe they’re a sports fanatic and you want your Sundays quiet, spent reading The New York Times together and going to brunch with friends.

Whatever the behavior, we need to examine our own motivations. Are we jealous of our partners’ hobbies and habits? Do we want to change the behavior because we’re concerned about their health? Is it a moral issue?

Here’s the deal: if our partners change something simply for us, they’ll probably resent us for it. If we ask them to change and they don’t, then we’ll resent them. Thus, a conflict is born.

First of all, you simply can’t change your partner (but you will make each other miserable trying to force it). You can support your partner, enabling him or her to reach a place where they’re prepared for transformation, but even the most annoying habit in the world can’t be changed because you argue it so or withhold until they give in.

Reframe your approach and consider the work you need to do for yourself. What are your yearnings? How do they shape your feelings? We all bring yearnings into a relationship and a hope that our yearnings will be met. If we’re clear and up front about those yearnings, we can assume goodwill on the side of our partner and know they want to make us happy, just as we want for them.

You both may be different people who enjoy different things, but accepting your partner for who they truly are and respecting these differences will go far. If it’s a health issue (your partner overeats, smokes or drinks) then consider what comfort they might not be receiving on your end. The next time they’re going to reach for something to soothe their yearnings, how can you soothe them instead?

How to Break Old Patterns

We all come into relationships with baggage. Most of our early personality traits and desires are formed well before adulthood. If your parents withheld affection or modeled a relationship where fighting was the norm, you might see these patterns emerge in your adult relationships.

It’s not about dwelling on where this conflict is coming from and shifting the blame to our parents, but rather, it’s about understanding it and then figuring out if you’re using conflict as a platform to deepen your engagement. Ask yourself what you’re fighting for and if you’re making progress.

Some conflicts can be long lasting and in-depth. It doesn’t spell doom for the relationship. Fighting fair and honoring the rules of engagement will keep your fights from becoming a standoff where you end up spinning your wheels.

Follow These 7 Rules of Engagement:
  1. Minimize the negative.
  2. Accentuate the positive.
  3. No one gets more than 50% of the blame.
  4. You must take 100% responsibility for your own happiness.
  5. Express and agree with the truth.
  6. Always fight FOR something, not against; and
  7. Assume goodwill.

If you follow these rules, your conflicts will become more productive and growth focused. You’ll find you’re engaged in respectful discussion (even if it’s harshly worded and impassioned) and you’ll walk away stronger.

Meshing Your Personalities

We all have different personalities, different backgrounds and different yearnings than our partner. Judith is an Energizer and I’m a Regulator. We spent years in therapy and we’ve seen several different couples’ counselors—some who even told us we should just cut our losses because they couldn’t see we were actually using conflict to keep us more deeply engaged.

When it comes down to it, there are plenty of things that can irritate us in relationships and breed conflict. We are different people who are trying to work together on a shared vision. Understanding your personality type and your triggers, and being honest and open will help you work out anything that may arise.

The good thing about conflict is it means you are connected. You’re fighting for something. Make sure you’re both fighting FOR the relationship rather than against each other and you will find some common ground.

When a relationship is just starting out you want to test it even harder. You want to know it will stand the test of time and endure. Engage in deeper conflict as you’re figuring out where you’re headed. If you’re both committed to growing and transforming together, then conflict will make your relationship even stronger.

You’ll be able to read all about these ideas and more in Dr. Bob and Judith’s Wright’s new book coming out in February 2016: The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer. (Available for preorder now!)

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Want to learn more about more satisfying dates and relationships? If you’d like to learn more about what the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential has to offer check out:

About the Author

Bob-300x250

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.
Check Out Lifestyle Podcasts at BlogTalkRadio with Wright Living on BlogTalkRadio.

Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user infowire.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.