A pilot I know recently flew into a storm. Twice. No, not the same storm! Not the same flight, either. Not intentionally, of course. As a pilot, his training is to recognize the patterns of turbulence and avoid them. He and his team have multiple kinds of navigational equipment, which show where the turbulence is, so that there is ample opportunity to avert trouble.
Even then, occasions arise where a flight enters turbulence, unexpectedly. This is what happened with this pilot. Multiple warnings and corrections enabled him, and the plane, to make changes and navigate through safely with minor danger and discomfort. Twice.
Do you fly straight into a storm, as if it is inevitable and you can’t do a thing about it, and then act surprised? Has your radar been turned off, so you don’t have an advanced warning? Why have radar if you don’t pay attention to it?
And if you do meet turbulence, do you have systems of recovery and correction, that will bring you and your partner back into balance? There is part of you, which we’ll call the pilot, which has an overview of your life, and is able to act on, or activate, information from inside you as well as outside. You can override this information, or act on it.
In relationships, your partner often acts as one of the sources of information that can avert danger. Your partner can see things you can’t because you have a blind spot. In this case, your partner can act as the pilot for your relationship.
Likewise, you might see clearly that your partner heads for a disaster. You are collaborating with your partner’s pilot. How do you kindly, compassionately and firmly let them know?
Whether you are a pilot or a partner, the most effective warnings are EARLY warnings. If your gut/radar says that trouble is brewing, don’t talk yourself out of it! Believe it!
“I’ll wait to see it with my own two eyes”, you say.
If you pick up on turbulence or trouble on the horizon at a 1 on this scale, you will only need minor adjustments to achieve equilibrium again. If you are conflict resistant or enjoy high drama, you are heading for the brink at a 10.
To put this another way, if you attend to relationship issues when they first appear, the conflict and discomfort you experience will be minimal, perhaps a 1 on this scale.
If you keep denying that there is an issue, by the time you attend to it, by the time you have faced up to it, it could be a 5 on this scale, and this will mean a fight or prolonged difficult discussion and a lot of hurt feelings. If you neglect what is right in front of you even further, the conflict will be high-level, and might even threaten your relationship. Your relationship, like the plane in turbulence, is in danger, and it will need all your efforts to get back to smooth flight.
Early detection, and early response is the best way to keep your relationship flying well.
Maybe you build up resentments about your partner’s sloppy house-keeping and personal hygiene until you have a wallet full of complaints. In this way, you are actually cultivating a storm, where a vortex of resentment-turbulence will drag you both down. In contrast, it is better to air one issue at a time and clear the skies.
Perhaps your partner hints that your spending habits are worrying, and that your indebtedness is undermining the stability of your relationship. Probably you bluster and protest, and defend and argue, and try to prove how you are ever so right! You might even call your partner names in an attempt to divert the focus! Alternatively, do you, maybe with some shame, face it and say, “Yes, I know. You are not the first person to mention this. Let’s see someone who can help me. Would you come too?”
In these examples you are acknowledging that your partner’s piloting is wiser than yours. Good move. As a result, you’ve probably saved your relationship. Financial problems, particularly when partners have radically different attitudes to debt and spending, are one of the surest ways to relationship breakdown. If you value your relationship, avert this storm by honest confrontation and change course immediately.
Yet, in real life, couples often seriously procrastinate confronting their issues, often for years, even decades. They tell me about the immense heart ache they have endured. “Off only we had tackled this 5 year ago!” they say.
Do you need a Courageous Conversation?
What storms are on your horizon, and how can you avert them?
How do you recover from turbulence?
Copyright © Kaye Gersch 2018