In a relationship you regularly have to face obstacles life throws at you. Conflicts and arguments are pretty normal, they are part of being in a relationship. In Long Distance Relationships you may have to handle those differently than in usual relationships.
What happens when you’re not in the same spot? There are many things that may cross your way as a long ditance couple: time difference, your individual social life, personal dreams and goals, big life changes like losing or beginning a job, family situations, political, cultural or personal conflicts and more… Let’s be honest, it can get pretty depressing in a LDR, so I asked myself how do you handle those situations, to come to a positive solution – as a couple and as an individual?
Well, as always there isn’t a general cure for all of it. Life writes it’s own stories, whether we like it or not and we need to find our own ways of working around problems.
Resolving the Conflict
I personally hate ending up in an argument with my long distance partner. I don’t like confrontation, negative vibes and feelings, nor discussions. Reading the situation and figuring out what and how your partner feels is even harder when you’re far apart. It can make you feel isolated, scared and depressed. Due to the distance you may end up avoiding uncomfortable issues in general until one of you explodes like a time bomb. However, I learned in earlier relationships, that this is a very easy way to drift apart. You’re not communicating honestly and openly with one another and that doesn’t work out well. That’s why open communication in a relationship is so important!
Be Honest and Open
Hiding your thoughts and feelings from your significant other won’t help at all. He/She is going to notice that something is up sooner or later. If you’re not being honest to each other, it will make you drift apart. You may end up distant. I know it’s scary to make yourself vulnerable and to fully open up, but you’ll feel relieved and so much more connected once you’ve torn down the walls that hide your true feelings.
Tanner and I found a new technique from the Native American culture which helped us both improving our communication:
The Talking Stick – Speaking in turns and deeply listening until feeling understood.
The first time I experienced the talking stick was at a talking stick round during a tipi dedication. The talking stick was and still is a sacred tool for many Native American tribes, so treat it with respect.
The idea of the talking stick is that only the person holding the stick gets to make their point. They continue to speak until they feel they have been understood. (The one speaking is always doing that in a respectful way of course.) The other ones are only permitted to speak in as they need to clarify and ask or relect back in order to demonstrate that they have understood the speaker. The listener’s purpose is to listen only and purely. Once the speaker feels that his/her point has been understood and they said everything that may layed on their heart, they pass the stick to the next person and equally allow the others to make their point, until they are statisfied.
How do we practice that as a couple?
Me and Tanner modified this way of communication a little bit, since we can’t hand over a stick to each other. Instead we will tell each other when we feel understood.
As an example: Tanner begins to speak and talk about his thoughts, beliefs, emotions and feelings on a difficult situation we’re facing. While listening naturally your mind goes crazy during that. You are having all sorts of answers, thoughts and impulses to fire back at your partner. The key is noticing your thoughts, but letting them go right away. This moment is not about you now. Instead purely listen and empathize with your partner and what he/she has to say.
It takes a lot of courage and trust to share your feelings and deepest emotions like that in the beginning, but in the end it is totally worth it! Never forget: to understand does not mean you have to agree with everything.
We learned that the talking stick practice helps us to truly comprehend one another. It transformed our defensive negative energy into creative, supporting and loving energy.
The talking stick is not about throwing accusations, interrupting or competition – it is about true listening, understanding and cooperation!
This way of communication leads you to sympathy, letting go of fears and showing your true self. It will give you respect for those in attendance and a safe place to talk about your feelings and point of views. No one is left out, unless they have no comment.
One of your deepest needs as a human is to be understood – the talking stick bestows you with that.
Find your own unique way of connection
I think deep conversations and unique connections and feelings that we share with each other are truly what a relationship makes so wonderful. There are plenty of guides how to handle arguments and fights out there, but no advice ever helped as well as taking time for a talking stick round.
I asked you guys about your opinions on the topic and how you handle arguments and conflicts as well. The answers were incredible and so interesting to read. Many of you have different and unique ways how to deal with these kinds of situations. With this blog post I want to help anynone who might got stuck, or still searches for their way of dealing with conflicts and arguments. I summoned the answers for you:
It is not about comparing, it is about sharing and supporting each other.
Thanks to globalization and the Internet thousands of people find themselves in a Long Distance Relationship. We are a community that can help each other out, which I think is pretty damn cool! Stay positive and don’t give each other up.
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Farewell little sailors,