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A Gay Lovers Quarrel Joe Paul Talk It Out

Introduction.Paul threw open the door to the apartment in a rage and stormed inside, Joe hot on his tail. "God, you are being such a drama queen! It's no big deal! You're reading way too much into this!" cried Joe as he cornered his partner in the bedroom. Paul swung around to face him, reeling with anger as his heart pounded ferociously against his chest and his hard, shallow breathing neared hyperventilation. "No big deal?! Gee, thanks for caring about how I feel! That is just so typical of you to only think of yourself and then downplay what you've done and not take any responsibility! Then I end up looking like the melodramatic one and you come out smelling like a rose! Well not this time, Joe! I've had it!".

Joe fell to the bed and held his head in his hands as he let out a frustrated sigh. "You are so infuriating! This was supposed to be our romantic night out together and you totally ruined it with your stupid assumptions!" he grumbled. "I ruined it?! We hardly see each other anymore, and when we finally get a night out just the two of us, you can't keep your eyes off the other guys in the restaurant! It's like I didn't even exist in there! You barely said even two words to me because you were too busy undressing everybody there in your mind!" "You are so off base, man! The guys in there were hot and I'm a natural flirt, I can't help it! It doesn't mean that I want to sleep with them though! I am sick and tired of having to take the blame and suffer for your past failed relationships! I have never given you any reason to doubt my commitment to you and all you ever do is jump to conclusions about my motives! What do you want from me?!" Joe shouted. "See, there you go again! It's always my fault, isn't it?! Just forget it! You can sleep on the couch tonight!" spat Paul as he heaved a pillow and blanket at him from across the room and then stalked off, slamming and locking the bathroom door behind him.Love & Conflict.While the above scenario may seem a bit like "The Young & the Restless", it certainly depicts how an argument can downward-spiral fast.

Conflict is normal and inevitable in all relationships; in fact, there can't be growth as a couple without it! However, the manner in which the conflict is approached and managed can either contribute to the health and development of the relationship, or it can cause its demise. Words hurt and can have lasting effect, and as seen by our friends Paul and Joe, they can damage the foundation of trust and intimacy that the partnership is built upon.As a couple, it's important to view conflict as an opportunity to bridge more connection. As men, we've been socialized to be strong, aggressive, and competitive.

While these traits are definite assets, they can be counter-productive when communicating with a significant other about differences or problems. Another tendency that we men have is to skip over feelings and jump right into problem-solving mode to rectify a situation. This is another obstacle to effective communication in an intimate relationship. Listening and validation of each partner's feelings and needs is an essential pre-requisite to problem-solving and requires us to slow down and really pay attention to the messages communicated by our lovers.

So when faced with an altercation with your partner, it's important to do the following:.·Identify your triggers to anger and know when your emotions (or your partner's) are at a point where continuing a dialogue would be detrimental and unproductive.·Defuse anger immediately by calling a "Time-Out" and having a cool-down period where you can each relax and gain some perspective.

This will help avoid the potential for hurtful words to be expressed; words that hurt and can't be taken back.·Schedule a time to come back and talk about the situation so that it's not "swept under the rug", which would only serve to accumulate resentments. Set the stage for communication by creating ground rules for discussion and a safe environment to have a dialogue.·Have conscious intention during your talk. Avoid being distracted by what you want to say and instead be fully engaged with your partner and focus on active listening so you can truly understand his needs, feelings, and point-of-view.

You'll have your chance to state your position. Don't interrupt, stay on one subject at a time, and display appropriate levels of empathy and validation for your partner.The "I" Messages Communication Technique.

There are almost as many communication models available as there are self-help books, but one of the most popular of them is the "I" statements communication technique. Frequently taught in couples counseling, this strategy has a practical and easy-to-use formula for expressing your needs and feelings in a direct, assertive way. If executed the right way, this model reduces the chances that your partner will respond in a defensive way and will promote a more successful communication session.

Basically, the formula reads:.I feel (insert feeling; make sure it's a feeling, not a thought) when you (describe his behavior) because (rationale for why you feel the way you do) so instead, I'd prefer (request for a behavior change).The model works well because you're taking responsibility for your feelings without blaming and you're describing the behavior that is upsetting to you as opposed to launching an attack on your partner's character, which the word "you" alone tends to inspire and hence creates defensiveness on the part of the other. Requesting a behavior change doesn't guarantee you'll get what you want, but asserting yourself can give you a sense of empowerment that's better than the alternative of acting-out your discontent or stuffing it away and burying it.

You have the right to express yourself and ask for what you need and want.Additionally, the formula is beneficial for helping both partners fine-tune their communication styles. For a more verbal partner, "I messages" help to streamline his thoughts into a simple, understandable statement rather than a barrage of sentences that can overwhelm his partner. For a less verbally-sophisticated or quiet partner, the formula allows him a step-by-step format for expressing himself if he typically has a hard time finding the words to convey what he's thinking in his mind.

While the formula may seem mechanical, contrived, or awkward, it provides a sound framework to begin from and can be modified to your own language and style. This is just one of many communication techniques you can try on for size!.Joe & Paul Revisited.Joe and Paul sat on the couch facing each other, both feeling more calm and centered as they desired to clear the air from their argument the night before and come to some resolution about how to manage some of their issues moving forward. They didn't want to hurt each other anymore and truly wanted to understand how the other felt and what he needed to avoid being reactive in the future.Paul began.

"Joe, I feel hurt and rejected when you don't talk much when we're out and when you look at other guys because we don't get to see each other very much with our opposite work schedules and I feel it's disrespectful to be admiring other men when you're with me. I miss you and I feel scared that you might be losing interest in me when that happens. I'd prefer that you be more engaged when we're together by not staring at other guys and by making the most of the time we have together by talking with me or giving me more attention.".Joe responded with active listening techniques and Paul felt heard and validated.

Joe then replied to Paul. "Paul, I feel frustrated and helpless when you make accusations that I'm cheating on you because I have very strong values in fidelity and have never done anything to compromise our commitment. I love you.

I'd prefer that you refrain from jumping to conclusions and instead check things out with me that you might be thinking and feeling in a calm way to make sure we're on the same page.".The couple's discussion went deeper and they were able to identify a lot of their fears and unmet needs that were underlying the anger that was coming out during their fight.

Once they'd reached that level of understanding and both felt heard, the couple was then able to progress into a problem-solving stage. Joe refrained from flirting with other men to respect his relationship with Paul and channeled his energy into attending more to his partner's needs and being more fully present when they were together. He also tried changing his work schedule around so they could have more quality time together, tried to show Paul ways he appreciated and cherished him through loving gestures and attention, and worked on improving his verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

Paul set to work on challenging his insecurities, combating his tendency to make assumptions and "mind-read", and began grieving and healing from past relationship wounds that he was projecting into his current relationship with Joe. He also worked hard on improving his boundaries and both aggressively worked on creating more balance between their individual and couple identities. This couple is on the right path to healing and continue to grow closer by the day.

Conclusion & Action Challenges.So how can you use "I" messages to improve your relationship? Here's a few tips in conclusion to get you started:.·Make a list of all the feelings and/or needs you'd like to express to your partner and write them down in a journal. Now, using the "I feel___when you____because___so instead, I'd prefer___" formula, practice creating your own "I" statements. The more times you do this, the more natural it will feel.

Role-play with a trusted friend or go directly to your partner and give it a try!.·Remember that it's very important to identify the role that you yourself play in conflicts rather than putting all the emphasis on your partner and his behavior. You can't change your partner.·Expand your feelings vocabulary. Read books on emotional intelligence to broaden your skill-set.

·Identify any fears you may have that hold you back from listening or communicating your needs and feelings with your partner. Work at challenging them to support more connection in your relationship.* The characters in this article are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental.©2006 Brian L.

Rzepczynski.WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and this resource box are included:.Brian Rzepczynski, Certified Personal Life Coach, is The Gay Love Coach: "I work with gay men who are ready to create a road map that will lead them to find and build a lasting partnership with Mr. Right." To sign up for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples, as well as to check out current coaching groups, programs, and teleclasses, please visit http://www.TheGayLoveCoach.

com.Please also include with the article the words © Copyright and prominently display a link to our main page at the end of the article. Any feedback would be appreciated and can be sent to brian@thegaylovecoach.

com. Thank you!.


Brian Rzepczynski holds a master's degree in Social Work from Western Michigan University and is also a Certified Personal Life Coach through The Coach Training Alliance. He launched his private coaching practice, The Gay Love Coach: Man 4 Man Coaching Services (, in 2003 and works with gay men, both singles and couples, on developing skills for improving their dating lives and relationships. He publishes a free monthly ezine called "The Man 4 Man Plan" that has helpful articles, tips, resources, and an advice column relating to gay relationships and dating. He is also the co-author of the 2005 self-help book "A Guide to Getting It: Purpose & Passion.

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By: Brian Rzepczynski

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