When I am unresolved with someone I care about, I spend a lot of time trying to address the problem, to get in touch with my feelings, and to find a way to communicate with them. I can only tolerate so much discomfort before I must do something to soothe the discord within me and within the relationship.

In my experience, it takes the risk of being vulnerable, at least to myself, if not to another, in order to find a new way forward together.

Unresolved feelings and situations live on until balance is regained.  In resolving conflict, those in relationship are essentially needing to balance what is out of balance in the relationship or within their own personal experience of the relationship.

Something incomplete needs to be finished, like a conversation or a misunderstanding. When a resolution is found, the conversation moves towards understanding or insight, and the discord moves towards a feeling of ease or clarity. Assuredness may be renewed after a period of uncertainty. Lovers settle back into ease, the heart opens, hands extend towards each another again.

Depending on the action taken, a relationship will thrive into a new direction; or end, because there has not been resolution enough to strengthen the bonds between the instability of the discord in the relationship.

That which is unresolved will live on in some way, however, until it is resolved, so it is a process worth paying attention to.

Here are some strategies that I hope will help you along the way this year when things get sticky in relationship with those that you care about.

Strategy 1:  Pulse the Ability for Contact and Resolve

When an acupuncturist or doctor takes your pulse, they are looking for the intensity of the beat, the frequency and speed of the rhythm. This helps them assess stress levels, vitality, and in general the person’s state of balance.

When you have a conflict with someone, a pulse needs to be read – is this person ready for contact? Are they available for repair? Are you? If you call your friend, how long do they take to get back to you? How long have you been talking in your head and not calling this person? Does this person feel safe to express yourself with? All of these are ways to pulse a relationship’s ability to find resolution and grow in a positive direction.

Taking little steps to make contact so to check in with the connection between you and the other person will lead to indicators of where the relationship is in the course of rupture, repair, and resolution. Sometimes, things cannot be repaired. But when they can, relationships strengthen.

Some things to try: offer to make them tea. Bring your beloved a yummy snack and walk away with a glimmer in your eye. These little gestures allow for warmth and contact amidst any storm.  If you offer tea, for example, and it feels sucky, pull back. Someone is not ready, or perhaps something needs to be felt into differently (perhaps they don’t like tea or are too angry to receive, either way you have learned something in relationship to them). Try again. Look for the opening to contact, but respect boundaries along the way. 

Re-solve: Write a note: “I know we need to talk, but I am not ready yet. I love you,” or, “I really would love to work this out with you. Let me know what I can do to help ease the strain.” Place it gently on the table. Walk away. Feel a breath of ease and relief? Good sign. 

Pulsing for contact and closeness honors the transition between hurt and love, anger and forgiveness. Transitions are very important when we want to find a solution to a problem. 

Strategy 2: Re-establish a Connection with the Person

If you are able to make a connection, then a repair is more possible. Resolution in relationship takes people willing to understand and listen, which can only happen when we are in a place of connection. Find ways to connect to one another amidst the messy feelings.

If your are in an intimate partnership, do what you can to nurture other parts of the relationship aside from the conflict or hard feelings that are present. I do not mean to avoid or ignore that there is a problem on the table. However, nurturing other parts of the relationship, using touch, entertainment, exercise, or a common interest, can help bring you back into connection if the other person is able to be open to that as well. Do not do anything to manipulate anyone out of their feelings. There is a problem that needs a different solution in relationship to one another. Keep your eye on that, while trying to create an opening in love or friendship in the way that you know how to connect together.

Finding a way to have contact before you try and repair is important so that you remember the love, care, and interest in the relationship or situation at hand.

Strategy 3: Stay Steady and Learn Patience

Contact, repair, and resolution, is basically impossible if a person is shut down or stonewalling you. If you or your friend are withdrawn from contact, being defensive or otherwise mean, these are anti-resolution behaviors. These are not signs of being ready or able to repair. These are signs that someone is lacking emotional resources. If this is someone you love, you have have to work very hard and pull from every angle of support to stay grounded and loving. They may be dealing with some very old patterns that need repair in a loving relationship. Hopefully, they are aware of that and working towards their own resolutions as well. 

If this person matters to you, do not give up. Stay steady within any kind of love that you can generate within you. This may also mean having boundaries and loving yourself along the way.

Respect their need for some down time or space to figure their hard feelings out. You can always test the waters with a call or a question that simply asks for contact. Letting them know that you love them and intend to work it out with them is a gesture of resolve. 

If the intent to repair does not seem to get traction, try something else.

You know this person, so what is it that opens their heart?

What does it take to open yours? 

Knowing the answer to these questions readies you for repair.

When you care that much to figure out how to make contact, you have already done half the work.

Strategy 4: Stay in Kind Contact with Yourself

What I mean by staying in kind contact with yourself is to stay present with your experience within this dilemma. Kindness does not mean ignoring that there is a problem at hand, avoiding your feelings, or even being nice to someone being mean to you. It means to stay present with what feelings are in the mix for you so that you can form them into some kind of action. 

When the time comes to resolve, you will know what you want to say and to have heard.  When you know how to give room to your own feelings, you will have the room for another’s.  This is having empathy – and empathy is an essential ingredient of resolving in relationships.

Closing song for January, with love.

Wishing you all a very happy and steadfast new year to all that you want to cultivate in your life.