The Downward Spiral

Danielle: Do you remember in the book Love & Respect the “downward spiral?”

Chris:  Yes

Danielle: I am majorly spiraling right now…

Don’t we all wish that our relationships were without tension or miscommunication?  Me too.  Unfortunately that isn’t the case and while my husband and I mostly do a great job at communicating, we are always growing and learning.  Due to a  recent miscommunication this was the text conversation that transpired.  If you are unfamiliar with Love & Respect let me summarize the downward spiral:

The core principal is that women need to feel loved and men need to feel respected.  For example, Chris may say something fleeting at times that has no alternative meaning however in the female brain it may trigger something that hurts my feelings, making me feel unloved (unprotected/hurt) from him.  Because I am now “hurt” I could fire back, “well now you know how it feels so maybe you should think about that next time you say something…”  to which I have now disrespected him to which he will most likely respond with another hurtful comment, feeding the “unloved- hurt” feeling to which I could respond harshly feeding into disrespecting him and thus you have the downward spiral.  The sad part is, I may have just been trying to express my feelings and all I probably needed from Chris was to validate or acknowledge them and we would have moved on from the topic.  Instead in the downward spiral, you spiral out of control so much so that neither person knows what they are even fighting or hurt about anymore.  It’s awful.

Thankfully as soon as I texted that I was beginning to spiral, my sweet husband immediately tried to acknowledge and comfort me, however, between texting, late night feedings and a major time zone difference one can only do so much and unfortunately I didn’t respond graciously.  Post conversation I wondered, “what would I do if I was really spiraling or falling out of something?” How would I slow down? How would I try to save my life?  What are the precautionary steps that I would have taken to ensure I had a safety feature to catch me?  In my opinion, here are three steps:

1. Get your Bearings– Which way is up and down?  Often times if you can tell the sky from the ground that is half the battle.  In this case- what is truth?  What do you know to be true about this person’s heart or intent? Lead with that.

2. Take a Breath– We can have every tool or resource available but if we don’t make sure that we are breathing through it we will never survive it.  When emotions are high, feelings are hurt and miscommunication is thick, step away for 5 minutes or 5 hours and take a breath to gain perspective and reality of the situation or sometimes ladies, our emotions. (yes, I fight the same battles you do…)

3.  Pull the Right Cord- Before you jump out of a plane you have a parachute attached to you.  At the right timing you have to pull the correct cord to deploy the chute, if you pull the wrong one or miss the window of time, the consequences can be terminal.  The same is true with relationships- we should always be striving to learn about our partner and be a better partner to them- your parachute- “emotional investment.”  When the spiral approaches you will have an opportunity to pull a cord: one, your chute of grace, believing the best and a life- giving response will deploy or the other cord that will deploy is a chute of frustration, bitterness, anger and hurt.  If we miss the window or timeline of the first cord we put ourselves, our relationships in a patten to one day reap the consequences of the second chute.

Last but not least, after landing, assess what happened and how can you avoid it in the future with your teammate.

Today after “landing”, Chris thankfully responded with patience and grace to some of my stubbornness (cause I’m rarely stubborn)  kidding, but he walked through it all again to verify that he understood where I was coming from and what the proposed solution was.    It made a huge difference and it was resolved, just like that.  Sorry babe for my stubborn comments earlier… going to work on those!


Picture: The Apollo 15 spacecraft parachute line failure in 1971



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