It’s ironic that the ONE place that’s supposed to be our safe haven from the world…
Where we can let down our guard and drop our shields and take off our mask…
Ends up being the place we’re most likely to get stabbed in the back.
That’s what love is like for many of us.
Either it’s heaven or it’s hell.
When you’re connected, you feel safe and loved and at peace with the world.
But when you’re disconnected and fighting over stupid things, you wonder what you’re even doing here. Being single was better than this. At least when you were single you could come home and no one would yell at you.
When we fall in love and decide to be with someone, it comes with an agreement. We’re supposed to be on each other’s sides. We’re supposed to be allies.
But that’s not what happens.
We turn on each other. We look at this person we’re supposed to love and see someone who’s standing in the way of what we want.
How can you stop yourself from getting into huge fights all the time? You learn to spot when you’re flooded.
Why Minor Disagreements Blow Up into Huge Fights
There’s a point of no return in most fights.
You’re not even trying to solve whatever it is anymore. It gets personal. It’s about how mad you are at each other and what a dumb decision it was to tie your lives together.
That feeling of being swamped by your emotions is called being flooded.
And if you and your guy do nothing else, I want you to learn to spot when you’re flooded so you can take a break before it’s too late.
By definition, fights are pretty intense emotionally. Otherwise, they’d be just be disagreements, right?
On a good day, you can feel that intense reaction and not give into it. You can think through what you want to say before saying it. You can hear what he is saying even if you don’t like it.
But on a bad day, you feel that intense reaction and your thinking mind completely shuts down. You’re in fight or flight. Warning sirens are going off, and the danger is this man in front of you. It’s either attack or defense—the time for reasoning is over.
When you get to that stage, you cannot continue the argument. Nothing good will come of it. No matter what you say, it will be hurtful, and the damage will be lasting.
3 Steps to Deal with Flooding
What you need to do is:
- Notice you’re flooded,
- Tell your partner you’re flooded, and then
- Take a break.
It will take about 20 minutes of being on your own, doing something soothing, to calm yourself down. Go for a walk. Lie down on your bed and listen to music. Just get away from the situation until the emotional flood waters recede.
I used to think that it was stonewalling to walk away from an argument in progress. We had something we needed to sort out, and it was my job to stick in there and see it through.
But what happened was that the argument would just get worse and worse. We’d get further and further away from what we’d been talking about in the first place.
Sticking with the argument didn’t help us solve it—it just created an opening for more and more ugliness.
Start noticing the point at which your arguments cross the line from constructive to destructive.
Start noticing the point where you stop arguing about the issue and start arguing about each other.
That’s when you need to take a break.
How to Pause an Argument
The way you do this isn’t by yelling at your partner, “Calm down! Get a grip!”
Nor is by saying, “I’m not standing here listening to you talk like this one moment longer. I’m leaving!”
It’s by using very specific language.
I’m feeling flooded, and I’m finding it hard to talk about this. I want to finish this conversation, but right now I need to take a break. Can we come back to this later?”
Now, unless your partner knows what being flooded means, that won’t make any sense to him, so you need to have a conversation with him—the sooner the better—about what you just learned in this article.
Sometimes, just talking about how you fight and how it makes you feel can make a huge difference. When you love each other, you really don’t want to hurt each other.
Urge your partner to work on this with you. The stakes are huge: if you can learn to spot when you’re being flooded and stop before you say something you’ll regret, you’re going to feel safer around each other. You’re going to feel more like allies and less like enemies.
The last thing you need to remember is that you’re making a promise to come back to this topic when you’re feeling calmer. You’re putting a pause on the discussion, but the problem isn’t going away. You still have to work through it.
And next time, you’ll feel grounded enough to stick to the topic, rather than fighting about each other.