December 10, 2013
I think most of us know that when times are tough, we seem to fight more with our partner, but have you ever wondered why? How financial stress is transferred right into relationship problems?
Well, there are 2 areas of the brain mostly responsible for this, the amygdala and the brain stem. Without going into huge detail, our amygdala registers the fear that comes with financial stresses, and before we know it, it has communicated that to our brain stem which goes into survival mode and has us responding in either fight, flight or freezing.
Whichever one is chosen, whenever we are in this survival mode, we are reactive, and it is this reactivity that makes it very difficult for us to be open and receptive to others, which is necessary to have a good relationship with them.
So, we can’t stay open and attune to others, we don’t pause before responding, we can’t empathise with another, we have trouble getting a deeper insight into what is going on between us, we lose contact with our intuition, and we lose access to our moral awareness.
This then has us going down the low road rather than the higher road in our communications with our partner. Once this negative spiral starts, it usually goes nowhere but down, getting quite ugly at times. There are no happy endings unless it is stopped.
We are all potentially prone to this kind of disintegration. The key is to firstly recognise what is happening, and catch yourself as early as possible.
Taking personal responsibility for yourself is the first thing to do. As soon as you feel yourself reacting rather than responding, when you can feel emotional upset or emotional charge internally, then put up your hand, interrupt the conversation, and say to your partner “I am being reactive”.
Arrange with your partner for this to signal “We need to stop for 15 minutes, spend time on our own settling down and reflecting on what just happened and why, then come back and return to the conversation from a more aware and neutral place”.
If you can both agree to do this each time either of you is feeling reactive, you can save a huge amount of wasted energy and upset in arguments, and really get to having a healthy conversation, even if , to start with, it is punctuated with a few breaks.
For further help with your communication and relationship problems, I urge you to seek relationship counselling as early as possible, as there is always a solution to a problematic situation.