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I need to learn how to handle conflict

Old 04-22-2014, 02:55 PM
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I need to learn how to handle conflict

...in a constructive way.

So, I'm in a great marriage to a very good man. I love him to bits. He's not an A. But he's got codie tendencies just like me. So when we have a disagreement, it's almost like the two British upperclass twits holding a door open going "After you"... "No, after you"... "No, I insist, my good man!"

We can't fight. We just don't know how. We both apologize because we don't like having conflict with a person we love, and then we both withdraw to our corners and feel sad and hurt and worried that the other person is going to love us less now that we've disagreed.

We're learning and we'll solve this riddle too. There's no doubt. But my part of is that I have to figure myself out. My own reactions to conflicts are triggering to me -- because they tell me I still can't find middle ground between "we are like made for each other" and sort of isolating myself mentally and emotionally (like I did in my A marriage). There's no "we can disagree and still be OK" -- I assume that if we disagree, it will drag out for days or weeks, that he will bring it up again, that he will let it fester for a while and then explode in a storm of accusations and name calling and screams and... and that's not him. That's the ex. That's what the ex would do.

And so in the middle of trying to figure out this relationship, I still have to figure out and sweep out the corpse of the old one. (Let that be a lesson to you, children -- make sure you're good and done with the mayhem of the A marriage before entering into a new one... )
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Old 04-22-2014, 02:58 PM
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Great advice Mom.

Call me, I will teach you how to fight, I mean resolve conflict.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:11 PM
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The wreckage of past relationships sometimes pops up even when you think you have it all figured out. It's okay, you and your new husband will work out a good communication style.

I'd far rather be in a, "No, you first" relationship than a, "It's all YOUR fault" relationship.

Life is life: as long as we are moving toward healthy, it's all good.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:24 PM
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My husband and I are learning how to do this too. It's tough but talking about how you feel without being afraid of repercussions and having a partner that isn't defensive when you express your emotions is soooo, sooooooooooo cool! Granted, I've only experienced this a handful of times in the last couple of months, but wow. Each time it leaves me scratching my head thinking "so, normies do this ALL the time?! That's nuts!!"
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:29 PM
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I'd far rather be in a, "No, you first" relationship than a, "It's all YOUR fault" relationship.
Every day. And twice on Sundays.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:45 PM
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Lillamy-

I am just starting to learn how to be in conflict, but it is not with a spouse.

I don't know if this will help or not, but I am finally realizing that I check out when conflict comes knocking. I am so busy worrying about the other person, their feelings and reactions that I totally check out of me, myself and I in that moment. (Totally my early family training which I carried with me). I am so worried about someone else that I don't tend to get emotional....I tend to shut down.

Just in the last few months I am getting a crash course in conflict....and what makes all the difference is staying with me. Can I feel my legs on the ground? Can I feel the emotion coursing through me? It is not detachment per say, but it is observing and not stepping into someone else's stuff....but staying with my own. Sometimes I have to try to name what I think they are experiencing....so I can see it is not mine to "fix."

Of course because I have avoided conflict like the plague for 37 years I am in the middle of a lot of it. Most of it though has nothing to do with me....but I could not get ahold of that until I was able to stay with me through it.

I am learning as I get "better" at staying with myself that once the conflict is over, I am pretty much done with it also. Prior to this I would struggle with stuff for weeks at a time.

I am far from perfect about this, but this is a huge step for me. I have not necessarily acted on what I am feeling, but just feeling it in the moment (and not changing what I am feeling because someone does not like it) seems to be a huge step forward for me.

Please share with us what you learn.
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Old 04-22-2014, 04:45 PM
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lol, holy cow, lilamy...I never expected to read that here but my current relationship is just the same. I am not complaining.
It's lovely to never have raised voices with each other and it makes me feel so safe and secure.
I try to pick my battles but we've never been to battleground.
If there is something I need to bring up, I simply state it and then leave it alone for him to process.
He frames his in a pun or funny way and I take that on board.
I think we both are just very accepting of each other.
We don't do the go in our corners and dwell about things either.
This is our bubble of sanctuary and having been both of us verbally abused and more in the past, we wish to preserve
I see a therapist once a month and always take him in with me so it has become therapy for us both. We use that time to bring up issues, tho it is always gentle.
Nope, I would not trade this gentle, kind relationship in for anything.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:01 AM
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I think I see a lot of codie traits in my behavior still in all my relationships.

One of our kids -- the one who took the hardest beating from her AF, my ex -- is frankly hellishly difficult to deal with. Every time I exhale and think "she is finally on a stable path, taking responsibility" she does something so outrageously stupid that I can't understand it. A brilliant young woman, she self-sabotages in school (if she graduates from high school, I will cry tears of joy for a full week) and chooses friends who are abusive and manipulative.

But it's her choices. Her life. Seeing her abysmal choices, seeing how she is (deliberately?) throwing monkey wrenches into her opportunities... it makes it incredibly hard to detach. Mind you, I do on the surface. I tell her "not my circus, not my monkey" but inside I'm just totally attached and in pain for her. Not the glorious example of recovery I'd like to be. (She is in therapy weekly, and has a great school psych who really "gets her" so it's not like I'm leaving her without a support system -- she just needs to have a support system that is not her mother, one that she can gradually let go of.)

Same thing with my husband. When we have a disagreement, I'm not worried about whether I feel hurt -- I worry about what he is feeling.

And at work -- I have a couple of coworkers who are simply mean manipulative little buggers, and yet, I cannot keep myself from chatting and small-talking with them, even the ones who scheme to make me look bad in front of the boss. I simply don't know how to stand up for myself and stop being such a bloody people pleaser. I want to stand up for myself and not care about whether people like me or not. But I can't. I worry myself sick about what people think about me -- even while telling my kids that "what other people think about you is really none of your business."

I can probably be the poster child for why simply leaving an A doesn't fix everything.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:03 AM
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And I should add that I need to go back to meetings. I really do. It's just been a low priority -- see, there the codie goes again -- since we moved because it's been challenging enough to get the kids adapted to their new surroundings, blending a family is like working in a salt mine (figuratively speaking), some physical medical problems, and then starting a new job with a steep learning curve and high performance demands... I simply have put meetings on the back burner. To the point where my sponsor hasn't contacted me for several months because she got tired of my excuses and told me to contact her when I'm ready to go back to working through the steps again from where we left off...
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:47 AM
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So when we have a disagreement, it's almost like the two British upperclass twits holding a door open going "After you"... "No, after you"... "No, I insist, my good man!"
I just wanted to say that I kind of love this.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:57 AM
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Just thought I'd share my experience - I too hate conflict and confrontation but for a different reason, I always worry how others will perceive me after I stand up for myself or speak my truth. I was taught in my household (severely emotionally/verbally abusive NPD mother) that "we" don't get mad because "we" are better than that...and if I did get mad as a child I was shamed and punished...so it carried to my adulthood. One of my issues/disagreements with Alanon is I feel they try to tell us anger is "bad" and as I was just writing in another thread for me that somehow translated into "standing up for myself was bad".

In therapy that's the main thing I've been working on....it's OK to stand up for myself and say what I feel and think...even if that might make someone mad or makes them look at me "bad" (most of the time that's in my head though I think they are looking at me negatively for speaking a firm truth and having the conflict but I've found usually we/they get over it and move on so it was me taking that childhood stuff with me). My MO was always I would stand up for myself (even maybe firmly with a raised voice) and then flight out of the situation (sometimes never talking to the person again) for fear the person now perceived me as "angry and bad". So I'm working on that...for me the only way I've been able to work on it is to do it and then feel the feelings after...and then go back and face the person...and usually it's ok..and if it's not OK well sometimes things don't work out and that's ok too.

My XRAH and I are still friends and we do fight but not like we did when he was actively drinking..and I think that disagreement and conflict is not only natural but good for the relationship sometimes...we argue and maybe get mad for a little while but since I speak my truths now I usually feel ok about it later after we get a good laugh out of the fight and it doesn't fester anymore because I got the feelings out rather than held them in.

Not sure at all if this applies to you but thought I'd share just in case.
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Old 04-23-2014, 12:17 PM
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Thank you, Aeryn (I always look forward to your posts because you usually have something to say that is really helpful to me!)

This:
I was taught in my household (severely emotionally/verbally abusive NPD mother) that "we" don't get mad because "we" are better than that...and if I did get mad as a child I was shamed and punished...so it carried to my adulthood. One of my issues/disagreements with Alanon is I feel they try to tell us anger is "bad" and as I was just writing in another thread for me that somehow translated into "standing up for myself was bad".
sounds familiar. In my FOO, it was a cultural/class thing -- screaming and yelling and getting into shouting matches is so... gauche... so low class. We don't do that. If you raise your voice, it means you have run out of ability to correctly phrase your argument, and that means you have lost.

I think I need to learn what you have learned -- that the world really doesn't end if I stand up for myself instead of rolling over and saying what people want to hear...
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:36 PM
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Hmm. I'm going to go a little astray from every one else. I think this is a very serious problem. If the two of you don't think you can pretty aggressively address this issue I wouldn't hesitate to seek some goal oriented short term counseling to address it. It takes two to fix couples communication.

My ex and I never fought. We were together for 15 years and I can honestly remember two fights - and they were not major. More disagreements really. Seriously. He didn't act crazy until after I filed for divorce. There is no good end to that. According to our counselor it was extremely destructive to us individually, the marriage relationship, and our kids in the long haul. Very dysfunctional. It was also, according to her, one of the easiest things to fix and we were at the end of the road when she said that - not happily married - so two motivated happy people would be a snap
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Old 04-24-2014, 04:15 PM
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Thank you, Thumper -- I definitely will consider that. Although truth be told, I think it's more my problem than his. I need to learn a way to not become three years old and afraid that people won't love me if I express an opinion every time there's a disagreement...
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Old 04-24-2014, 04:21 PM
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only one way to find out, lillamy!
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Old 04-24-2014, 04:32 PM
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But what if the world ends, Anvil??? Then I will really be responsible for the world's disasters and my ex will be right!!!
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