The COVID-19 pandemic has turned many things in our world upside down. The effect of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns might have exposed the gaps and insecurities in our relationships as well. These factors may have led to some misunderstandings and even bitter clashes with our loved ones. Although most couples strive to keep the peace and avoid conflict, it’s true that sometimes our “blind spots” prevent us from seeing the other person’s point of view. It might be worthwhile, during conflicts, to keep in mind the words of the Buddha: “In a battle, the winners and the losers both lose.”
Action and reaction
When you feel you are in the right, your natural tendency is to fight and prove your point, regardless of the consequences. You tend to close your heart, your inner light dims, and you refuse to yield. That’s when your anger escalates and you just can’t let it go. As every action causes a reaction, negative feelings intensify with each verbal exchange. You become fixated upon the other person’s blunders, and you get blinded by negative emotions. You even go to the point of destruction. So how do you get your relationship back on track after a bad fight, and how can you learn to take your differences more lightly?
Once you are angry, everyone around you will feel it. Try asking yourself: “Why am I angry? Is it my partner that’s making me angry, or is it their feelings and behavior toward me? What am I angry about? Do I feel insulted, treated unfairly, belittled, or humiliated? Is the person testing me to challenge my own cherished views of myself?
Give each other space
Once you have done that, take a step back, and let it be. Go for a walk and give each other some much-needed space. There is nothing wrong with retreating. For whatever reason, whether you are right or wrong, you can prevent the conflict from ending badly.
Don’t be clingy nor too aloof. Pay attention to your own feelings. If you feel pain, embrace it. Let your tears flow freely and cry if you want to. Release negative emotions such as hate and anger. Once your heart and mind turn calm, you will feel better — just like the thunderstorm that clears the air, and the rain that washes everything clean.
Meet each other halfway
Remember that all good actions that come from your own self are yours and can never be taken away from you. Once the dust has settled, be open to communicating, even if it’s hard. Try to understand your partner’s point of view and their pain. Remember, they too are suffering. Explain things (briefly) from your side. Don’t be determined to push your point or perpetuate the conflict. You could end up losing everything. Ask your partner to meet you halfway, and try to balance out your differences. Learn to forgive each other. As difficult as it may be, say a joke and normalize the situation.
If the fight is about material things like money, property, etc., you could agree on boundaries to help define your individual roles and responsibilities within the relationship. This will help you to grow and your relationship to mature. Here are some points that may act as a guide.
- Deal with only one issue at a time. When arguing about an issue, stick to the issues. Don’t go off on a tangent about the other person’s character or their family.
- Be open, honest, and vulnerable with one another.
- Cultivate compassion.
- No hitting below the belt. Respect each other’s differences.
- Talk about your problems and don’t be afraid to speak up about new difficulties when they arise.
- If a conflict is still small, nip it in the bud.
- Keep a clear mind, and admit that, at any time, you could be wrong.
By not stubbornly forcing matters, you will naturally find happiness again. This way, you will also be following a great and lasting law of nature — and that is to live in peace and harmony with others.
Lastly, remember these three things:
- You may be right, but what good does that do in a broken home. Having a peaceful environment ensures other qualities can follow.
- It’s difficult to teach others about their flaws (or learn about your flaws) when you’re in the middle of an argument. Work on dismantling the built-up negativity first.
- Each conflict is an opportunity for you to learn about your shortcomings.