They say make-up sex is the best, but the truth is; the farthest thing from the mind during a passionate argument is sex. Beside lingering seething anger, disgust and thoughts of divorce, shame is the most powerful response. “How could I say those awful hurtful things to the person I love the most in the world, my friend, my lover? I would never treat any human being the way I treated her/him, not even my worst enemy. What’s wrong with me?”
But there is an even worse response than shame; the cut off, when the internal vow is “I will never allow myself to be vulnerable with her/him again.” It is often not articulated consciously but it is acknowledged unconsciously and it could signal the permanent end of the relationship. Here the Wall of Protection become rigid and fixed.
The typical response to intense negative encounters is commonly known as the cycle of violence; a protracted build up of tension, followed by a trigger event, the explosion, a period of hurt, sorrow and shame, followed by regret and resolution, a return to a near pre-morbid state, and the renewed slow build up of tension all over again. In pathological relationships this cycle of violence is repeated with greater frequency and more intensity. These kind of relationships require intervention or the relationship will end or someone will get hurt.
But even the best loving relationships have episodes of intense negative encounters; fights. It is instructive to see how the best loving relationships deal with “fights.” Here is what I have observed how love works after fights.
- The individual’s first question is, “What is going one with ME that allowed this situation to escalate?” There is awareness that her/his Wall of Protection has be activated so that self preservation has become paramount. There are stressors that have breached the point of being tolerable. He/she then works to manage those stressors appropriately. Fortunately there are only four possible sources for these stressors; money, external relationships, health, and the most likely source, the predominate culture. Recognizing what caused the Wall of Protection to activate is the first step of loving after fights.
- Next is the change of focus to the other. Clearly the other’s safety is or is perceived by the other to be threatened. Here the response is easy; love. Love helps create safety for the other. Simply by returning to loving behavior, being a loving kind considerate human being the other’s Wall will come done when she/he feels safer.
- Finally, when they have enough safety to move forward, loving couples fight in a different way. Instead of fighting each other they attack the stressors/problems together. Both, now, recognize that they have mutual problems and set out to resolve them together. They have done this well throughout their loving relationship, they will begin again with renewed commitment.
Intimacy is restored in this process. Negativity ceases. And this, by the way, sets the stage for real good sex.