Reactive cycles are set in motion by neural networks. Thoughts create a neural trace, repeating a thought creates a network. Neurons that fire together, wire together. And most of us are operating in a control-oriented way. We seek to be right instead of seeking to be connected to one another. If we stay on that default setting, we are likely to experience relational conflict.
When we communicate to relate, or connect, we place a higher value on relationship than on power. When we communicate to be right, we place a higher value on ego and control over outcomes.
If you want your spouse to love you for who you are, you have to show a vulnerable, non-controlling openness. This is seldom easy for humanity to do. It takes intention and practice.
Old, Controlling Neural Networks look like this:
- seeks personal comfort, looking good in the eyes of others
- values knowing what will happen and having everything and everyone figured out
- thinks you-message thoughts, sales pitches, power tactics and manipulation
- makes assumptions and generalizations
- ignores other people’s feelings and focuses only on their own
- assumes that in relationship, there is a winner and there is a loser, and they will fight to be right
New, Relating Neural Networks look like this:
- a curious mindset, open to learning about the other
- values being real, authentic
- thinks I-message thoughts, offering healthy self-disclosure of personal truth
- listens openly, without the need to interrupt
- responds to the other’s pain and fear with empathy and active comforting
- is expert at collaborating to find a win-win outcome
Transitioning to old way of thinking to the new is key to transforming any relationship plagued by conflict or communication problems.
When we let go of control of our spouse, we open ourselves to their authentic ‘yes’s and authentic ‘no’s . This is a move from a rigid and narrow focus on getting only ‘yes’s and compliance from a spouse. A benefit of doing couples work is expanding your conscious awareness and living in a flexible and expansive personal presence. This way of being opposes and ends your old contributions to the couple conflict cycle. When both spouses do the work, there is individual and couple transformation.