Being in a relationship brings its ups and downs. It is how you respond to those ebbs and flows that will help determine your relationship’s success. In a recent ON Purpose episode, Jay Shetty took us through what no-fly zones are and the six steps to resolving them.
No-fly zones are topics of conversation that cause turmoil in a relationship. Common hot-button topics include money, finances, religion, ex-partners, and mother-in-laws. Whatever the topic may be, no-fly zones are avoided to keep the peace, but is keeping the peace always the best solution?
“The problem with no-fly zones is that they hold us back from that deeper level of commitment that so many of us want to experience, but often are afraid of,” Jay Shetty explained. “Most people want to have that kind of relationship where they know the other person has their back, where they feel understood and can talk about anything.”
According to marriage and family therapist Dr. John Gottman, sixty-nine percent of marital conflicts are about ongoing problems and never get resolved1.
“Think about that. Sixty-nine percent of the issues we fight about are never resolved,” Jay Shetty remarked. They just keep coming up over and over and over again.
No-fly zones and committed, honest relationships do not go hand in hand. We get a false sense of security that things are okay because we are not fighting about them. When you simply sweep a problem under the rug, however, the problem doesn’t go away. It is just hidden from plain sight.
“Keeping things hidden can become a source of emotional stress and shame,” Shetty shares. “We can get good at hiding and burying what’s going wrong. One way we do this is through these no-fly zones.
Reasons for Recurring Fights in Relationships
According to Dr. Leon Seltzer, how you perceived your parents’ arguments growing up affects how you respond to your adult disagreements. If you witnessed your parents fight and have many unresolved issues, you are likely to have adopted the thinking that there are just some things where resolution is not possible. Maybe you normalized that behavior as something people just do.2
Seltzer also believes that often when recurring issues arise within a relationship, someone feels emotionally threatened. They lash out when they feel their ego is under attack, becoming defensive and angry with the other person.
“Some people can’t even mention the name of an ex before their partner is up in arms with anger,” Jay Shetty explains. “The reason we often get so upset about exes is our jealousy and insecurity. It comes down to our ego. For some of us, it’s painful even to acknowledge that our partner had a romantic life before us,” Shetty continues. So we protect ourselves from our insecurity with anger. We go on the attack ourselves, and that anger immunizes us from vulnerability. That’s what we’re really avoiding.”
Do your core ideas and beliefs differ from your spouse or partners so much that they become unresolvable? These issues do not have to become the be all, end all of your relationship. Set healthy boundaries, do not try to change the other person, and agree to disagree. Here are Jay Shetty’s six steps to resolving no-fly zones.
Step 1: Talk
Is your partner willing to discuss the situation? Do you both agree that it is a no-fly zone subject?
“Try to bring up the topic at a time when you’re both calm,” Jay Shetty explains. “not while the kids are running around trashing the house, or your partner is responding to a work email. You both have to be on board. If your partner refuses to talk about the issue or acknowledge there’s a problem, you need to decide if you can live with that.”
Step 2: Create an Environment to Communicate
“Find a quiet space in time where you can talk,” Jay Shetty suggests. “Find a weekend when work pressure is less, maybe after the kids are in bed. Sometimes a good conversation also occurs on a walk, when you’re walking in the same direction, walking towards something together.”
Step 3: Frame the Issue in a Positive Way
Do not take sides against one another. Discuss things in a way that you are both on the same team.
“If we come to the table as adversaries, we increase the likelihood that we’ll fight, so instead come to the table as a team taking on the problem together,” Jay Shetty explains.
If you see it as a win-lose situation, it means if you win, they lose. If they win, you lose. You either choose to win together, or you choose to lose together. If the other person loses, you feel like you both have lost, and if you feel like you’ve won, you should both be winning.
Step 4: Remember What’s Important
When working a situation as a couple, take time to remember what is important about your relationship. When things get heated, reflect on the reasons you are together, and think of three things you love about the other person.
“Make a list of three things you love about each other before you start,” Jay Shetty says. That list can help defuse the tension, remind each other that you’re a team, you’re together for a reason, and that talking through challenging issues is worth it.
Step 5: Listen
William Ury, “One of the co-founders of Harvard University’s program on negotiation, says the most successful negotiators listen far more than they talk. He also calls listening, the golden key that opens the door to human relationship,” Shetty says.3
When you listen more than you speak, you give your partner the sign that you are emotionally available and open to what they have to say, allowing them to open up and get to the root of the issues. Talking less also will enable you to listen with your heart and really hear what they say, and together you can work on a resolution.
Step 6: Get Third-Party Help
In relationships, couples often wait too long to seek help from a third party. You should seek a third party’s help sooner than later if you need it.
“You want someone who’s truly objective and qualified, such as a therapist or a counselor, or a mediator, or even a trusted spiritual or religious counselor or advisor,” Jay Shetty shares. “It’s healthy to get help, and it’s worth it.”
Jay Shetty reminds us that if you can follow the six steps to remove no-fly zones from your relationships, you can open the door to the deep, honest, committed relationship you long to have.
“The more you’re willing to listen to your partner, and to be honest and vulnerable with them, the more you increase the chances for long term success and happiness in your relationship,” Shetty concludes.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode “6 Steps to Resolve Relationship Conflict” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.