When things get off between us,
we are prone to misconnection.
We strive to find opportunities to
reconnect and stay connected.
In love relationships, we strive to stay connected to each other. When things get off, even a little bit off, we have an opportunity to rejoin our partner in this quest for love, union, and mutual respect. No one wants to feel disconnected. It happens. A short remark, a missed commitment, a misunderstanding of something we said, so many things in our lives can cause a fracture in a relationship. It is what you do about those fractures, even minor ones, that can determine the course of your day and ultimately the course of your relationship.
A few days ago, I was ordering tacos for breakfast. As I was on the phone with the restaurant my partner shook her head as I was speaking and held up three fingers.
“What?” I ask, stopping the order.
“You want three of those,” she said.
“No, we’re getting two plain, two with sausage, and two with migas.” I was irritated and my tone of voice was angry and condescending. My partner got up and left the room. As soon as the order was done I told my partner I was sorry. She accepted, “It’s okay.” But I could feel it was not okay. I had some more probing to do in order to build the bridge back to my partner and release the tension of the terrible taco order.
It was a simple miss. She had heard me say earlier that I wanted two of the sausage tacos. But as I was making the order I changed my mind. She has no way of knowing. And she was being helpful, to make sure I got the order right. She was participating in the process and giving me feedback.
I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m making an online order. I like to talk through what we’re getting if it’s pizza or tacos or whatever and call with my completed tally, making the transaction as quick and simple as possible. I get grumpy if someone wants to talk it out, or change the order, while I’m making the call. That’s just me. I know it’s not all that rational, but it’s one of my faults.
It would have been easy enough to let the conversation go at that point. We had both apologized. We were busy and were already moving along with our other activities and chores of the morning. And I needed to go get the tacos. But I was not satisfied with our overall transaction and the feeling I was picking up, even after saying I was sorry. I followed my partner into the bedroom.
“I need to explain what happened again and apologize,” I said.
“It’s okay. I got it,” she said.
“Well, I’m not done. Sorry. I got frustrated and used a condescending tone with you. I did not mean to hurt you, and I understand you were trying to help.”
“You said you wanted two sausage tacos.”
“I know, but I changed my mind as I was ordering them.”
“And there was no way you could’ve known that I changed my mind.”
“I was just trying to help. But I understand that you got frustrated with me, so I backed out.”
“Yes, that’s all okay, but I want to tell you that I’m sorry again. I want to let you know what was going on with me and why I was frustrated.”
As we talked for a few minutes, I was able to explain how I like to do my orders and how I don’t like to discuss or change the plan once I’m on the task of completing the order. And, if we were clear on this idea, I could’ve said to her, “I got this,” when she started negotiating the order, to let her know I was in charge and making the order I wanted to make.
I think it was a simple repair. Here’s how it looked:
- Here’s what I did wrong.
- Here’s why it irritated me when you interrupted my ordering process. (even when you did have the best intentions)
- Here’s how I could’ve responded in a more kind manner.
- In the future, we can use “I’ve got this” as a kind phrase and boundary that says, “Unless I’m wrong, or you’ve changed your mind, I’d like to complete this order without interruption.”
- Here’s my commitment to do better.
- Here’s my renewed love and respect for you as my partner.
And with that small repair in place, we hugged and went along about our day. As I revisited our transaction that evening, we both agreed that the repair was needed and worked beautifully.
“I didn’t think about it again, all day,” she said.
That’s the goal. Feel a fracture. Ask for the repair. Commit to do better from your side of the conversation. And let go of the disturbance in the force. We’re all superconnected. And what we want in our primary romantic relationships is to be superconnected in understanding, empathy, and positive intentions. If we can view our partner’s comments and actions from as if they have the best intentions and good will towards us, we can skip over some of the painful pitfalls of relationship trouble.
Stay in the moment. When one of you feels a disturbance in the force, speak up. Ask for the repair. Illuminate the differences and the misconnections that occurred. And set some ideas, goals, phrases, that can remind you in the future when I similar situation or disconnection happens. Go for 100% connection, always. And lovingly revisit places where the connection seems less pure. What we want from our partner is love. When we’re out of balance we feel a bit less love and perhaps even some resentment. It is our job as partners in a loving relationship, to ask for clarification when we feel frustrated or disconnected.
Go for the repair. Celebrate the rejoin. And continue to have your partner’s back, even when they interrupt, disappoint, or misunderstand you. That’s our path together. Micro course corrections for life.
John McElhenney – life coach in austin texas
Get the complete single dad story with John’s new book: Single Dad Seeks (available in all formats)
New Dating Strategy:
- Action Not Intention Will Determine How Long I’m Single
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- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
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