Have you ever found yourself withdrawing from your relationship and not sharing your true self for the sake of “keeping the peace?” I have! I learned the art of “peace keeping” in my 18 year marriage to the father of my children. As a result of the lack of true peace, our marriage ended in divorce.
A peacemaker is one who brings about peace through reconciliation. A peacekeeper is one who tries to “keep the peace.” They often sacrifice their own beliefs and principles for the sake of peace. There is a difference between unity and existence.
When you act as a peacekeeper you sweep things that are bothering you “under the rug.” It is NOT true peace. Eventually, a huge mound forms under said rug and you realize it’s too big to ignore. It eats at your soul because it doesn’t feel safe to share your heart with the person who professes to love you the most. Moreover, feelings of self loathing and betrayal creep in for not standing your ground. You have put the relationship above your values and instead of renegotiating, you have compromised yourself into the corner!
True peace comes in the form of peacemaking. It can be messy. You have to be willing to rock the boat. It comes from a place of sincerity and wanting what’s best for growing the relationship. It takes two willing participants who can see past themselves into the end result. It creates a strong bond because of increased understanding and the desire for reconciliation.
So how is this accomplished? Here are 7 tips on how to shift from peacekeeper to peacemaker.
1. To thine own self be true. Don’t compromise who you are and what you need for the sake of the relationship. Acknowledge that it is of benefit to raise a little hell for true peace in the relationship.
2. Being honest (in a kind way) is worth evoking a little temporary discomfort for long term gain.
3. Good timing is key. Ask your significant other when would be a good time to talk. Then discuss it at the agreed upon time, NOT in the heat of the moment or when it’s not convenient for either person.
4. Remember that the end goal is not to be right, but to hear each other and gain a better understanding of your loved one. The objective is a mutually agreed upon solution to the conflict.
5. Listen carefully to your partner and repeat back what it is that they are saying so they know you are listening and care about their perspective. “Mirroring” is a great way to gain valuable information about how they are feeling and what they are thinking.
6. Be sure to remain respectful and use “I” statements. Do not be accusatory or say things such as “you always” or “you never.” Keep it about your story and don’t take on a victim mentality.
7. Remember, learning good navigating and negotiating skills is key. Your partner must feel heard and validated in order to not shut down. If they feel like you have a strong agenda and are only concerned with your point of view, most likely they will shut down, and you will accomplish nothing.
Be patient as it takes practice and time to be good at this, but it is so worth it! Relationships are hard. They require a lot of work at times.
However, divorce is also hard. You get to choose your hard.