The sooner you can reach out during conflict, or after conflict, the less permanent the damage will be.
How do we do this?
By making amends. Amends are actions that reach out to a partner, even when it is the last thing you might feel like doing. The speed with which you can learn to make amends will determine how quickly you can come back into harmony.
The following are just a few examples of what you can do to amend the situation as quickly as possible.
Touch your partner. Touch their knee or their shoulder, or just wrap them up in a big bear hug. Be the first one to reach out and touch – I know it’s hard, but go on. When you physically touch a person, it dissolves the space between you. We can get stuck in our heads, going around and around in circles, thinking we have all of these good reasons to cut ourselves off from our partner. But when one of you reaches out and gives the other a hug, the whole dynamic changes instantly.
Show that you understand
Understanding your partner is one of the most practical ways you can make amends. Even saying something like, “I totally understand why you would feel like that” works wonders.
It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, but at least they hear that they’re being understood. Simply being understood is what we’re usually fighting for.
If you can express something that shows a barrier dropping, and you can show your vulnerability, it’s catching — and it’s likely that your partner will also soften. Vulnerability instantly creates a letting down of our guard. It’s a beautiful way to make amends. Let them know you’re hurting/scared/embarrassed/triggered and you’ll see how this can create intimacy immediately.
Something to point out here, when it comes to amends, is that sometimes the action comes before the feeling. My partner is way better at amends than I am. He’s most often the first one to reach out. He might not feel like hugging me, but he’ll just put his arms around me anyway. That’s the action. We might not feel like doing it, but when we do, if we can stay in that space, the feeling and intimacy follows.
It’s like anything in life. For example, if you smile long enough, you’ll start to feel happy. You might not feel like smiling — but if you create that action, the emotion will often come afterwards.
So to prevent breakdowns, make amends as soon as you can. And try to remember – making peace is more important than being right. Life is too short to spend it holding grudges!
To learn more about ways to make amends, keep an eye out for the upcoming book, The Evolved Woman. I am one of the contributing authors and, I have to say, it’s going to be worth getting your hands on! We’ll be launching soon.