The Reluctant Missionary

Authentic stories from the travels of Michael Smalley.

The one thing you can't do

conflict management marriage podcast the joy of difficult conversations Aug 14, 2020

When is the last time you heard, "You never do anything! I have to do everything around here!" Or at least some version of an irritated, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, or disgusting statement of fact leaving you feeling like a failure or judged. Today, together, we are going to eliminate this kind of hullabaloo (Which I spelled hullabaloo correctly on my first attempt, whoops, I typed this out too fast because Grammarly finally corrected me! Now I've just made it embarrassing.) Anyway, today we discover how to destroy flooding in our difficult conversations.

Welcome to Inspirational Comedy, I'm Michael Smalley, thank you for joining me today.  Two things before we get started.

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Remember Gottman found 96% of the time if a discussion begins harshly, it ends harshly.  Harsh startups kill the momentum of the main thing you want in your relationship, intimacy.  It makes difficult conversations nearly impossible. 

Harsh startups are when you act like a jerk when feeling angry about an interaction. This jerk attitude leads to your partner feeling flooded.  Flooding is:

Flooding is a primal response to feeling threatened. It is our body’s response to stress originally designed to alert us to danger and enables us to react quickly in self-defense.

It is your body's Diffuse Physiological Arousal response, the classic Fight or Flight nightmare.  

It's Eminem's song, Lose Yourself:

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin'
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out
He's chokin', how, everybody's jokin' now
The clocks run out, times up, over, blaow

Sweaty palms, heart rate, blood pressure all kick into overdrive. 

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Of course, those lyrics are by Five Man Electrical Band, not sure why I'm musical today. 

Don't want to feel flooded any longer.  Then make one critical decision.


If you are unwilling to remove yourself from a negative moment, you will end up feeling flooded and flooding your partner.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it. A Sacred Pause is simply excusing yourself to calm down and take a deep breath. What is involved in a Sacred Pause?

  1. Recognizing you are about to become flooded
  2. Taking personal responsibility for your reactions
  3. Creating space, getting alone
  4. Asking yourself, "What is causing me to feel flooded?" Feelings. "How did I begin to flood the moment?" Bad choices. "What can I do right now to calm down?" Praying. Grounding. Time.

A Sacred Pause is perhaps the best strategy for eliminating flooding. You will know you took a healthy Sacred Pause when you own your part, your affection toward your spouse remains intact, and you choose to reengage in a positive way.

The one thing you cannot do is allow conversations to become flooded. You will not be able to control your partner's flooding, but you can set them up to remain calm in difficult situations with a Sacred Pause.


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