Step two is “Discussing the Issue.” If you initiated the Issue Resolution, you begin stage two by first identifying the topic you are about to discuss. You then begin to share your thoughts and feelings about the issue-without interruption and without using the words “you” or “your.” When you are finished, you say, “I’m finished.”
Regardless of our intentions, the words “you” and “your” are trigger words. They tend to trigger a defensive shield that flies up in front of your partner and he/she stops listening. In fact, he/she might start throwing “stones” back at you. Absolutely keep the words “you” and “your” out of stage two. It will take practice. And, you will have to learn to think before you speak.
But, most of us need to learn to do that anyway. Your partner then shares his/her thoughts and feelings without interruption, and without the words “you” or “your.” And, when he/she is finished he/she says, “I’m finished.” Now you are ready for the third and final stage- the “Solution Stage.”
At this stage, the initiator of this issue offers a proposal that obviously includes as many of his/her partner’s thoughts and feelings as his/her own thoughts and feelings. When you are finished, you say, “I’m finished.” It is now the partner’s turn. The partner has only three options- accept the proposal exactly as it was proposed, offer a proposal in its place that obviously honors the original proposer, or accept the proposal with some additions. If an alternate proposal is made, or additions are proposed, it goes back the original proposer who has the same three options. If the first proposer does a good job of listening to his/her partner and obviously includes the partner’s thoughts and feelings in the original proposal, it is rare for an alternate proposal to be needed.
Repetitive hurts can be stopped if both parties understand why they occur, and jointly agree on a plan to prevent them. The more repetitive hurt issues that get resolved, the safer the relationship feels.
Remember, safety comes before love.