(2) Using conflict to learn more about your needs and your partner’s needs
"Hey you know you can configure your fit bit to your calendar so it gives you alerts throughout the day?"
"Yeah I tried that one day and I didn't like it buzzing all day."
This answer didn't please me and I proceeded to ask more questions to get to the heart of why he wouldn't do what I wanted him to do. At a certain point he set a very firm verbal and energetic boundary with me to stop asking him more questions. I got triggered. We went back and forth angrily. He finally says, "I need a some space." and started to head for the door. I said, "Walk away!" as the door closed behind him. Sitting alone in the room the silence was deafening but I could hear my heart beating in my ears. My mind was racing with angry thoughts.
HEALING: This is a classic example of how our healthy needs get buried beneath unhealthy reactivity in conflict. After the break, we were able to come back and have a recovery conversation about what happened. In our time apart I did some inner work to discover what I was needing. I traced each thing I did and said back to the moment I asked the first question about the fit bit. I realized I had a need that was unexpressed. I had been feeling upset about feeling like I was having to remind my partner of certain things on our calendar. Instead of stating the need and making a request, I tried to control him by getting him to get alerts on his wrist. The healing happened when I said, "Hey I know we have a lot on our plate and we forget things and I need feel like you're engaged with our schedule. I need to feel like you care." This was received well and he agreed bring more engagement to our schedule in his own way. That's all I wanted and needed. He didn't fix it and I didn't change him.
LESSON: Partnership is a place to learn more about needs. When conflict arises the key is to slow down, work together to find out what needs remain unmet and then support each other in getting it met. Note: This is not the same as fixing each other.