How To Solve 90% Of Your Relationship Problems
Start with a simple question
I’m not a relationship expert but I’ve had my fair share of misunderstandings and arguments. I’m not a perfect human either. I can be hot-tempered, easily annoyed, and completely miss the plot when it comes to understanding what the other person is saying.
This applies to all my relationships — with my partner, my toddler, parents, friends, and various family members. While I have good intentions, sometimes I misread the situation, and it gets blown out of proportion.
I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Over the past years, I’ve discovered something about why we argue with the people we care about. I’ve discovered that most of the time when someone goes to another human with a problem, they actually have a preconceived notion of what they want.
How we solve it may be a mismatch, resulting in the other person feeling like they haven’t been heard. Over time I’ve discovered that there’s a magical sentence that can help mitigate potential offshoot issues and it goes something like this:
Do you want comfort? Or do you want solutions?
We solve discomfort by offering what we know
Everyone experiences personal grievances in some form. When we feel hurt, sad, confused, or angry, we often have ways to mitigate its effects by relying on the comfort solutions we’ve developed for ourselves over time.
Little children have their favorite toys or objects like blankets to give them the emotional security and comfort they need. Some adults might resort to shopping, bingeing, or doing something physical like going to the gym or build something to relieve stress.
So when someone comes to us with personal pain, it’s our natural response to try and help them solve the issue based on what we know. However, sometimes, the other person doesn’t actually want a solution. Sometimes, they just want someone to listen and be there for them while they mentally work things out for themselves. Sometimes, they’ve already got the solution but just need someone to be there with them.
That’s why starting with the question: do you want comfort? or do you want solutions? can be a powerful tool in helping you align the method of dealing with the pain.
The differences between comfort and solutions
Sometimes, we can get confused with what comfort is and end up offering a solution instead. This is because we comfort ourselves by finding solutions for our pain.
So how exactly do you comfort someone without trying to solve it with a solution?
Start by being a witness to their feelings.
What this means is being present with them while they are experiencing their range of emotions. This can be done through acknowledgment of their pain and describing it back to them. If it is not quite right, they may correct you on the situation and help you be on the same page as them.
Don’t focus on trying to cheer up the other person. Sometimes, they just need to ride out the emotional rollercoaster in full rather than have you try and put a halt to it. Doing this can make it seem like you’re minimizing their problems. Offering appropriate physical contact like a pat or a hug can also be an act of comfort.
A solution is something that tries to mitigate how they are feeling right now. Comfort is letting them experience their emotions and personal pains without feeling that they are alone.
Announcing what you want can also help
Sometimes, we are the person that goes to another human for help. However, the other person may not be on the same vibe or completely misinterpret what you want from them.
Telling the other person that you want comfort or solutions can help get them in the right gear. For some people, it can be hard to discern and decrypt what exactly the other person is wanting. Telling them what you want is one way to increase the clarity of your communication.
Most of the time, when we feel like the other person isn’t listening or is completely misunderstanding us is because they actually don’t know what we want. Being clear with your intentions can help reduce any potential confusion that can occur.
I’m not a relationship expert but sometimes clarity of intention and expectation can help reduce some of the most common misunderstandings. When emotions are riding high and it feels like there are eggshells everywhere, knowing where and how to tread can help sweep away the impending future conflict.
When it comes to comforting emotions, the emotions themselves don’t have to make sense to you. Sometimes, the other person just wants you to accept that they exist and that it’s real. At some point, the clouds will clear up and they might be mentally ready for a solution if they haven’t already figured it out on their own.