You’re right about the tone. It’s very important. So, what happens Chris is that when the emotional safety goes out of our communication, then some of that joyful liveness that we felt in the romantic phase goes out the window. Restoring safety in the beginning of our relationship, we’re all reactively nice and when the power struggles starts to hit, we’re reactively nasty. And that can be withdrawing, pursuing, saying mean things, getting loud, all those things. So, it is so important to maintain that sense of kindness and talk in a way that doesn’t harm our partner. Just briefly the imago dialogue itself, is a concrete structure that we both agree to use in those moments that will carry us to safety. So, in the dialogue, one person speaks at a time, the other person is gently repeating back conversationally what you heard your partner say and doing their best to be a neutral mirror and not respond and just be the space for their partner to share their world. We call it going over the bridge and visiting your partner’s country. I won’t maybe go into the whole thing but after your partner is finished speaking then you give them a summary which is not the gist in your own words and check it out. Was it a good summary? And then you give them validation, which is a gift you give them which is to say, “You know what, I did listen to you. I can get it from your side. You do make sense. What you say has value to me.” Instead of some of the usual things we might say which is you’re crazy. You’re full of it. That’s not the way that went down and things that we say in those moments.
And then you switch, and that’s the other person’s turn on the same topic. So, couples dialogue is when we take one topic and both people getting to share and we use the dialogue whenever there’s something bothering us, that we’ve been down that road before and it hasn’t gone well. So, instead of
we asked for appointment, for a dialogue so, we’re alerting our partners brain that we’re both agreeing to go into conscious intentional communication instead of unconscious reactive and the other part is that,–and this is the instruction I give my couples, if you suddenly find yourself in a triggered spot that’s escalating, you do not talk until you can go into dialogue. This starts to take all the activity out of our relationship. It can’t escalate because we have to listen, and we have to mirror, and again the dialogue is based on the idea that you might be feeling very upset, misunderstood, hurt but you can still make a decision to use a technique that will carry you to safety.