Here’s a really simple question that you can train yourself to ask, whenever you’re in a fight with your partner, “Am I fighting to win? Or am I fighting for the relationship?” Because if you’re fighting to win, you’re probably having a destructive conversation. Suddenly it’s not about what everybody needs or what both of you need. It’s about what you need and you want to get it and you’re ready to say things and do things to get back at the other person. So in a way you’re in a street fight. It’s every man and woman for themselves.
So ask yourself, “Am I fighting to win? Or am I fighting for the relationship? Am I fighting to make this thing work better for both of us? Am I looking for a win-win? Am I talking about wanting the other person to get what they want too?” Because we’re programmed – the minute we get somebody coming at us with the sense that they just want to get something from me. We just immediately go into … “Right. I gotta protect myself. So I’m going to hit back or withdraw or be disgusted.”
There’s a simple way to know whether you’re fighting to win, which is, is your heart rate elevated? Is your breathing shallow? In other words are you in Fight-Flight? Are you thinking “This is getting really intense.”? If it’s getting really intense, stop talking. Find a way to cool down. We say the most stupid things, the most destructive things when we are in that state. The brain is designed to make things very simple so we can get the hell away from the tiger or kill who’s ever coming after us. That’s not where we fix a relationship. So if your heart rate elevated, don’t talk.