How to Get Past Emotional Triggers to Hearing the Heart.
Learning excellent interpersonal relationship skills is the mark of a Fathering leader.
A woman walks into her husband’s office and he immediately complains that she’s late. She sharply replies that she had to drop the kids off at school. Angered by this, the husband states that she should have planned better so as not to be late.
There was a major 20-year study of marriages where they looked at what skills that successful marriages have that unsuccessful marriages do not. The study unanimously found one skill predominant over every other. That skill was the ability to believe the best of one another even in an argument and not automatically assume that one partner had bad motives or that somebody was wrong.
Most arguments are usually over a difference of opinion, a difference in priority, or a difference in value. So when a couple can hear each others’ heart and keep the conversation safe where each person can say what they’re feeling and what their priority is, a way forward can be found. However, even if we know this skill, many times it breaks down. Especially if we get triggered.
If we get triggered, the chances are not so good that we’ll be able to hear one another’s hearts, so what we often do instead is create drama. Cutting remarks, the silent treatment, some type of drama to avoid feeling something we don’t really want to feel.
A real tool we can use if we notice that the skill is breaking down is to simply ask ourselves the question, “What am I not wanting to feel here? What feeling am I trying to avoid through this drama I’m creating?” In the case of the example we used at the beginning, it was a feeling of insecurity that the husband was trying to avoid, hence the angry tone and drama he was creating.
Let’s look at this scenario again in a different light:
A woman walks into her husband’s office and he immediately complains that she’s late. She sharply replies that she had to drop the kids off at school. He then tells of his concern as it got later and later, and how he felt insecure and that maybe she didn’t care what was important to him. With this, she calmly replies that she was rushing to get there, but one of the kids had left a book at home so she had to go back to get it, causing her to be late. Upon hearing this explanation, the husband defuses and apologizes for jumping to conclusions and creating drama.