Dealing with Relational Turbulence: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

Are you seeking a deeper connection in your relationship but getting lost in the turbulence of misunderstandings and emotional storms? Discover how Affect Relational Theory (A.R.T.) principles can guide you through these challenges. Just like pilots use the “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate” mantra to safely navigate through crises, you can apply these principles to steer your relationship towards a more harmonious and fulfilling journey. Learn how to manage emotional turbulence, align your relationship goals, and communicate effectively to deepen your bond and enhance emotional intimacy.

ANC: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

In aviation crises, pilots often rely on a simple yet crucial adage: “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate (ANC).” This mnemonic device helps them prioritize their actions during emergencies, emphasizing the importance of maintaining control of the aircraft before addressing navigation or communication issues. It’s a principle that has saved countless lives in the skies. Can this aviation wisdom also be applied to the complex and intricate world of intimate relationships? In this article, I explore how A.R.T. can shed light on adapting this aviation adage to love and partnership.

Aviate: Don’t Crash The Plane!

In intimate relationships, the concept of “Aviate” takes on a profound significance, akin to a pilot navigating through unexpected turbulence. It’s about immediately and effectively managing emotional disturbances during conflicts or crises. This step is crucial in ensuring the relationship’s emotional ‘flight’ remains stable and doesn’t spiral into a nosedive.

When turbulence hits, the primary task is recognizing and acknowledging the affects at play – anger, fear, shame, or a mix. A.R.T. teaches us that these affective states are not just transient emotions but indicators of more profound needs, concerns, and relational dynamics. Understanding this is key to preventing the escalation of conflict.

However, it’s not just about managing these emotions. The real art of ‘aviating’ in relationships lies in maintaining an affective connection with your partner. It’s about agreeing that the most crucial goal is keeping the “relation-ship” airborne and avoiding a crash. This starts with a fundamental question: “What’s getting in the way of good feelings?” Keeping this question central to the conversation helps navigate through the emotional storm.

Like pilots, couples must prioritize helping each other stay calm in moments of conflict. This is essential because, in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture – the health and longevity of the relationship. By focusing on calming the emotional turbulence first, couples can ensure that their ‘plane’ – their relationship – doesn’t crash. This approach fosters a sense of safety and trust, making it easier to address underlying issues and navigate the conflict constructively.

Navigate: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?

After calming the initial emotional storm, Navigating is the next crucial phase in managing relationship conflicts. This stage is about gaining a deeper understanding of the conflict’s root causes and aligning the goals and directions of both partners. It’s a process where A.R.T. plays a pivotal role, guiding partners to delve into their affective experiences and examine how these are intertwined with their personal values and the dynamics of their relationship.

Navigating in a relationship is akin to ensuring that both partners agree on their destination and route. It’s about confirming that you’re both flying in the same direction with shared goals and aspirations for the relationship. This phase goes beyond merely addressing the conflict; it’s about building a shared understanding of where you are as a couple and where you want to go.

Empathy and understanding are the navigational tools in this journey. Partners are encouraged to employ curiosity and interest to explore each other’s emotional landscapes. This exploration is not just about listening; it’s about actively engaging with each other’s feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams. It’s about moving beyond surface-level reactions to uncover the deeper emotional needs and desires that drive the conflict.

Communicate: Open, Honest, and Affective Dialogue

The final step, ‘Communicate,’ is about engaging in open and honest dialogue. A.R.T. stresses the importance of expressing one’s affects and emotions in a way that is true to one’s experience yet considerate of the other’s feelings. This isn’t just about talking; it’s about communicating in a way that resonates at a feeling level with each other. It involves sharing not just thoughts and opinions but also underlying affective experiences. This level of communication fosters more profound understanding, compassion, and connection, allowing couples to work through conflicts and strengthen their bond.

Embrace the A.R.T. approach in your relationship and experience the transformative power of understanding and managing affects. By applying the principles of “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate,” you can turn relationship challenges into opportunities for growth and deeper connection. This journey is not just about resolving conflicts; it’s about enriching your emotional bond and enhancing the quality of your relationship. Start your journey towards a more fulfilling and harmonious partnership today, guided by the insights of Affect Relational Theory.