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When to Let It Go

You don't want to process every little emotional hurt with your partner, yet you don't want unconscious resentment to grow either.  How do you know when to let it go and when to talk about it?  You might find that you and your partner have a bias in one direction or another.  That is, one of you consistently wants to talk about it and the other consistently wants to let it go.  It's common for couples to become polarized about this issue, each person pushing for their preference.


A willingness to experiment with new approaches to relating is a key ingredient that keeps a relationship alive, flexible, and creative.  Choosing to talk about it and choosing to let it go are both valid choices.  A couple that is willing to experiment can discern what is most helpful in a given situation rather than arbitrarily taking a stand about their preference.


Here are some possible experiments that can help you discern wisely about whether to talk about it or let it go.  Any of these practices could be taken on with some specifics like; doing it for day, or doing it just the next time, or in a particular context, or for particular topics.


  1. Benefit of the Doubt:  Each time you interpret your partner's behavior in a way that triggers you, ask yourself what else could be true.  What other, less triggering reason might they have had for behaving in a particular way.  Basically, you bring to mind your partner's good intentions and caring for you, and can see a transgression as an exception in the larger context of your relationship.


  1. Offer What You Don't Prefer:  Decide to offer what your partner prefers.  That is, if you prefer to let it go, offer to talk about it.  If you prefer to talk about it, offer to let it go.


  1. Do Both:  Offer to let it go until the next quiet uninterrupted time you have together.  Or allow the conversation to happen a little at a time over a period of days.


These experiments will only contribute to wise discernment if you reflect carefully on them.  Here are some possible reflection questions:  What kinds of things am I able to let go of with no residue?  Are there particular things that get worse when we talk about it or let it go?  Why?  When I chose to let it go, did my perspective change over time?  What happened when I chose to talk about it, what helped and what didn't help?


Of course, talking about it and letting it go in a way that contributes to your relationship requires mindfulness and skill.  If you can't not talk about it, then you know you are pretty reactive and there's a good chance that talking while in a reactive state will make things worse.  In choosing to talk about it, it is essential that you can question your own interpretations, have curiosity about your partner's experience, and want to find a new way forward that works for both of you.


In choosing to let it go, it's essential that you can find a sense of security in yourself,  can give your partner the benefit of the doubt, and find your way back to connection.


With a willingness to experiment and reflect again and again, both talking about it and letting it go can become choices you trust.  Your relationship can become one that is responsive to what's true and present and one which moves with the flow of aliveness.


Practice

Take a moment now to identify what you most habitually do, talk about it or let it go.  Just for the next time, choose that which is not your habit.

 

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