I am going to ask you to do something extremely difficult here, but I think that if you can manage it, you will find that it is an extremely helpful technique in keeping the peace. I am speaking specifically to partnerships here, but the information is applicable to many different types of relationships as well. Of course, this advice could never apply to a situation where there is a conflict involving someone being in any immediate danger.
My husband and I have been together for fourteen years. We are very blessed to be of like mind in many ways, and we have not had to go through many large conflicts in the course of our marriage. That being said, fourteen years has still given me a hell of a lot of experience in how best to deal with conflicts when they arise, as they always will, in a marriage or partnership.
This is the common course of a conflict from my side of the situation: Something occurs or I learn something that upsets me. I first usually become catastrophically fearful and sad about the situation. My fear and upset can escalate to incredibly irrational levels, when I find a place to be alone and cry until I cannot cry anymore. This is simply my course of dealing with a problem that upsets me. It is not the same for everyone, but I believe that it is similar for many-female type personalities.
The reasons that I know that it is for the best for me to sit on a problem that upsets me for twenty-four hours are very valid. For one thing, nothing is ever going to get solved when one of the people involved in a conflict is being irrational. I do not know why it is that my mind seems to have the need to go there, but for some reason, my mind needs to envision the biggest, most terrible, most tragic outcome to a situation, to work through it and move forward. Were I to attempt to do that with my husband, I would probably scare him out of his fucking mind and convince him that I am certifiably insane at the same time. Additionally, I still have not met a man who is good at dealing with a woman in tears. It is like goddamn kryptonite for them most of the time. I, as a rather male tempered female, even have a horrible time dealing with a woman in tears.
So, I have learned that it is for the best to let that twenty-four hours pass. I can approach a conflict after I have had time to process all of the chaos, and the exaggerated fears in my mind. One hundred percent of the time discussions go better when I am not in tears. When people, both men and women, are at the height of emotional upset, they become exhausted, they don’t think clearly, and they are more likely to lash out immaturely, and say things that they really do not mean.
I know that it is incredibly hard to hold feelings back and set them aside for a period of time, but for me it has been very much worth it.
In contrast to my advice to give yourself a day to sort out your feelings before broaching that conversation with your partner, I strongly stress that you do always have to have the discussion eventually. Just because you are able to wait for a period of time and calm your feelings, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to bite the bullet and share them. When we don’t discuss the subjects that are important to us with our partners, when we don’t discuss everything for that matter, it creates distance and mistrust, and those are the last things that anyone wants in a relationship. Issues absolutely must be worked out between couples…but there is nothing wrong with giving ourselves a little time to approach them.