Do you ever feel like your relationship is stuck in the mud? One of my favorite games as a kid was called Stuck in the Mud. It started with a basic game of tag. But when you were tagged, you couldn’t get unstuck unless someone came and tagged you back into play. Only then were you free to run again!
Well, we know every relationship can get stuck in the muck and mire of negativity, criticism, and defensiveness which leads to hopelessness. That’s what happens to all of us when we have been hurt. We shut down, wall up, and become frozen in place.
And there’s a lot at stake. According to the Gottman Institute, “A six-year longitudinal study predicted the likelihood of a couple’s divorce by observing just the first three minutes of a conflict discussion.” You simply can’t afford to stay stuck in the danger zone of negative, critical conflict discussions.
The only way to get unstuck is through vulnerability. And yes, we know this probably feels scary—and certainly counterintuitive! But being vulnerable and sharing your feelings without criticism or defensiveness leads to deeper connection and understanding, which leads to hope.
When sharing your feelings, it’s best to check your criticism at the door if you don’t want to put your partner on the defensive. A great way to achieve this is to practice the gentle start-up (or the soft start-up, as the Gottmans call it).
- Complain but don’t blame
- Use statements beginning with “I” instead of “You”
- Describe what is happening, but resist the temptation to judge or evaluate
- Show appreciation, and be polite
- Don’t bottle things up
Remember what you’re working toward.
Vulnerability. Connection and understanding. Hope.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It’s a roadmap for navigating your way out of the muck of a relationship that’s ground to a screeching halt. And it works.
But that may be too hard without some guidance and help. At The Art and Science of Love, we can give you guidelines and even come alongside you while you work on developing this new skill of vulnerability. We can help you get unstuck. But first, you have to reach out and let us tag you!
Let us help you get your relationship out of the game of “perpetual stuck in the mud.” It’s time for you to discover the release of a freer, more loving, more playful relationship!
You don’t have to stay stuck forever. Register now!