So, last time we talked about rules one and two. To review: we are not calling names or walking away when things get tough! Rather, asking for a break to collect your thoughts and come back with a new perspective. Now, we are going to look at rules 3-6. To start us off… 

3.    No hitting below the belt.  This rule should feel a little familiar because it is the same as name calling any language or tone you use to cut another down or minimize them.

4.    No yelling.  Yelling escalates everything and changes the energy quickly.  Sometimes the energy of this can push things to an unhealthy physical fighting level.  For me, yelling automatically shuts me down, and I cannot hear anything more that someone is trying to say to me.  All communication stops.

5.    No bringing up the past.  We decided constantly bringing up the past, especially during an argument, was not productive.  It takes focus off the real problem.  Obviously, if there is a pattern not serving the relationship and needs to be brought into the light, that is different.  But we know the fear of being beat up over past mistakes over and over can keep us from opening to new ways of doing things.

6.    Let go of “always” or “never” language.   First, this language is untrue.  Nothing is absolute and framing things in this way only causes a person to be in a defensive mode.  It also makes me feel as if I know the results are always going to be the same, so why try?  As an alternative, place the focus on the core of the problem, stating it in terms that show it is something possible to resolve. 

You might notice, these rules are a little more in depth than one and two. They might take more time to become a habit because it requires us to change behaviors that we probably do without thinking. For example, rule number six… Taking the words always and never out of my vocabulary was much easier said than done. Why is this? 

I’d like to think it’s because people tend to look for absolutes in life. If something is always the same or never going to change, we may not like it, but it is comfortable. Once we can accept that in life, the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees, we free ourselves! Take this freedom into your relationship and know that you and your partner are always going to be growing and changing. 

Give yourself some grace as you incorporate these new rules of engagement and get ready for our final blog in the series, part three!

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