Tonight Walt and I had a difference of opinion. I won't go into the specifics, but he was humming right after a particularly vulnerable divulging of upsets on my part.
I asked how he was humming, and what transpired was a robust expression of many frustrations we each had been harboring.
The end results? Laughing and feeling more in love with one another.
The question is, "How do you know when to pick a fight and when to let it go?"
Only your emotional brain, with all its wisdom, can let you know. It's complicated because the amygdala seeks safety, and the reward center (ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens) wants a reward.
Only our survival brain can integrate the two and come up with an answer that promotes integrity and deepens intimacy.
Trust your gut
What did my emotional brain tell me tonight? That if I didn't speak up, I would not be in integrity and would be abandoning myself. It told me I would be racking up not Joy Points but Resentment Points and weakening the relationship.
Walt was not happy that I picked the fight, but that didn't bother me, as my focus was on my integrity. OF COURSE, he would not want to hear this, and OF COURSE, he would have some protest. He deserves that!
We both let loose with some strong language toward each other, which, after a bit, melted and there we were, hugging each other.
I was raised in a family in which my parents did not conflict. They were lucky, having chosen ultra-compatible partners. So, I never learned that healthy relationships grow healthier if you know when and how to pick a fight.
It wasn't until later, when I was in a relationship and avoided conflict, that I found that this avoidance was poisonous to love, leading to inauthenticity, boredom, loneliness, and resentment. The fights didn't melt into a refresh but became more painful and damaging.
What is fighting fair? Being honest but aware that any conflict has a 50-50 fault rule. The solution is 50-50, too. You let loose with feelings, then give them their 50 percent of letting loose. Listen to what they say. You decide to let it go, and when the problem comes up again, do not deepen your resentment, but instead say, "Wow, I taught them it was OK to be that way. It's not their fault."
We can't control whether our partner grows or how they feel, but when we stay at One, the old dysfunctional part of the interaction ceases. Then we do our part to stay at One repeatedly, and the immense plasticity of the emotional brain takes hold...
We change our own and the other person's brains one neuron at a time. Who knows what can happen to deepen love and discover new layers of emotional connection, sensual and sexual pleasure, and loving companionship?
The strategy: Be at One.