How To Fight With Your Partner

San Antonio Therapist

How To Fight With Your Partner

If you want a committed, long-term love relationship, you need to learn how to fight with your partner!  Oh, not knock-down, drag-out disrespect.  After all, you love your partner.

You just slowly come to terms with the fact that in the course of a 24-7 home-sharing, life-melding relationship, you’ll probably bump heads on a fairly regular basis.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  But it could be..if you allow insults, criticism and resentment to creep in.

To get a handle on resolving conflicts productively, try to incorporate the following ideas:

Consider the big picture. Is this fight worth it?

You know, you really don’t have to “fight.” In fact, there are some more productive, peaceful ways to make your point and come out stronger without a lot of drama and future apologies.

If a brewing disagreement deserves discussion, then try to calmly converse.

If your fight seems borne out of displaced stress or your spouse’s bad day, attempt to be gracious and let it go.

It doesn’t serve much good to let all your loving feelings get swept away by temporary anger or irritation. Sometimes it really isn’t worth it.

Decide not to hurt your spouse. Choose not to engage.

Prevent a communication blowout. Are you respectful?

This is the part about “fighting fair.”

Nobody likes a bully.

Especially one who knows all the buttons to push and wounds to reopen.

Again, you love this person. That’s why you are so bothered.

That’s why it’s worth taking a deep breath and biting your tongue.

It’s important to check your tone and mannerisms when conversations get heated.

Are you demonstrating that you value your spouse’s perspective?

Does your partnership remain equal and fair as you hash out your differences?

Fair fights in a successful relationship don’t include power plays, unreasonable interpretations of each other’s actions or inaction,or heavy-handed criticism.

Ask questions and respectfully consider the answers. Share your concerns and perceptions.

Accept, validate and negotiate. Can you compromise?

It may be difficult to swallow your pride when you’re wrong.

It can be tough to check your ego when you know you’re right.

It’s all for the best, compromise is a good thing.

Fruitful conflict resolution depends on how well you accept the validity in your partner’s viewpoint.

Interact with an open mind.

Sometimes you’ll have to agree to disagree and make space for your differences.

Prioritize your relationship by sticking to the issue, not winning the fight.

“Winning” is not arguing your partner into submission.

You don’t want to beat your partner. You love your partner.

A loving compromise that respects and strengthens your connection simply removes the need for either of you to win or lose.

Grant yourself and your partner space. Will you take time to cool off?

Knowing when to back off is an important part of preserving respect and connection.

Frustration or attempts to force the issue usually end badly.

Spare yourselves the hurtful emotional escalation and unintended rants.

It’s a better course to suggest that you take a break and revisit the issue.

Simply admit that you are too frustrated to continue the conversation and ask to try again later.

A time-out protects the goal of resolution.

Cooling off acknowledges the intensity of your emotions.

Plans to pick up the conversation later eliminate fear of abandonment and underscore the importance of resolving conflict purposefully.

Commitment is a wonderful thing.

Fighting well should be part of the deal.

Just don’t forget the most important truth.

You love your partner.

Fight the good fight and everybody wins.

Photo by DepositPhoto.com

Positive Rituals Make Life More Meaningful

Make Life More Meaningful WithPositive Rituals

Make Life More Meaningful

Julie and her best girlfriends began scheduling an annual September weekend getaway many years ago. It started as a way to regroup and encourage each other, before tackling the job of acclimating their children to a school schedule after weeks of summer vacation. Now that the kids are all grown up, they can afford a few extra days together and look forward to hours of sharing and laughing. They cherish the conversations that phone calls and texts just don’t seem to stimulate. No one was willing to give up the ritual that now symbolized changing seasons and a reconnection with the people important to them.  It’s positive rituals like these that make life more meaningful!

Do you have positive rituals in your life?

Often, the word “ritual” is associated with some sort of spiritual or religious practice. But positive rituals can also cover a much wider scope of activities and ideas. Rituals can act as a fundamental part of how we connect with ourselves and other people in deeper, more meaningful ways.

What are some ways positive rituals can enrich our relationships and support mindful interaction? Consider the following ideas:

1. Plan weekly “together time.” Engage your family in setting aside time for each other. Make it a weekly point of anticipation. Look forward to getting together every week for game nights, movie nights, or a family bike ride. Whatever the activity, make being together a regular, positive occurrence.

2. Use past family rituals as a positive ritual primer. For ideas, you might look at some of things you did with your family of origin to spark new ideas for your own family and friendships. Did you and your family members regularly attend any musical, theatre, or sporting events in the past? Did you have annual summer block parties with neighbors or family friends growing up? Perhaps you could incorporate those ideas into your current life.

3. Be creative, unconventional, or goofy with your rituals. There’s nothing like originality to keep rituals fresh, memorable and to add to the depth of connection of those who share the experience. Those who celebrate an “un-birthday” together, meet in the park on Fridays to read poetry, or plan themed, monthly progressive dinners with family and friends will build stronger connections and a wealth of fun memories.

4. Accentuate meaningful life events and people.  Honor special anniversaries. When did you meet “the one”? What day did you finally forgive the person who hurt you most? When did you smoke that final cigarette? Mark those significant periods with a ritual meant to appreciate the journey and honor your current situation.

5. Create rituals to support relaxation and well-being. Take time to relax together at the end of the day. Make a point of minimizing the media and slowing the pace. Look forward to positively ending the day with lullabies or stories for young kids or a few moments to check in and put the day to rest with older family. Couples also benefit from a bedtime routine that allows you to go to bed and rise together.

6. Chuck meaningless rituals. Let go of negative, draining or unproductive rituals that just get in the way of what holds real significance for you and those you care about.

Positive rituals make life more meaningful. Find strength in your connections and enjoy who you are because of them. Mark your moments and celebrate your connections.

 

4 Predictors of Divorce

Stonewalling

Stonewalling

John Gottman is an author, expert and well-respected relationship therapist with a theory about what kills a relationship most effectively. For nearly three decades, he’s studied couple’s relationships and counseled partners looking for ways to preserve their connection. He’s found that certain behavioral patterns are predictors of divorce.  Scientific evidence indicates he’s right most of the time.  Gottman named these relationship patterns the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

When Gottman’s relational “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” come riding into your marriage, you and your spouse are in real trouble! This kind of trouble won’t blow over or resolve itself. These horsemen bring hurt, disconnect and divorce in their wake.

You’ll need to get to know your enemies and defend your love against them if you want your marriage to survive. According to Gottman, these four predictors of divorce are enemies of your happy relationship:

1. Criticism:

Thoughts and remarks to or about your partner deal the first blow to the safety, trust, and loving feelings between you and your spouse.  This is an attack on your partner as a person, rather than their actions and behavior.

When you begin to pick each other apart and continually voice displeasure with the other’s faults, hurt and resentment build. Soon efforts to repair the rift and refocus on the aspects you appreciate about each other become less prevalent and appreciation for each other fades.

2. Defensiveness:

This behavior is easy to indulge when you feel attacked. Very quickly, the emotional walls go up and tender feelings are barricaded behind them. Walls make hearing and seeing your partner clearly much more difficult. Emotionally-available connection is severed, misunderstandings increase, and miscommunication amplifies negative interaction.

Once defensiveness becomes your go-to response, along comes blame and a lack of self-examination, which make apologies and reconciliation extremely difficult.

3. Contempt:

This predictor often spells certain doom in a relationship. Contempt is a lack of respect. It is cloaked in judgment, dripping with sarcasm, and full of negativity, conflict and resentment. A relationship without respect deteriorates quickly and painfully as you lose the ability to see anything positive or worthy of preserving.

Usually one or more of the following things are going on:

You’ve determined your partner isn’t worth much without your direction or commentary.
You’ve judged your partner’s behavior and character as generally negative and unchangeable.
Your communication has broken down into “you” language (you always…, you never…), personal attacks (you’re so clueless!) and universal characterizations (everyone knows you’re wrong).
You no longer acknowledge the emotions and needs of your partner. You actively invalidate them, alienate, ignore or put down his or her feelings, shutting down intimacy and breaking emotional ties.

4. Stonewalling:

According to Dr. Gottman, stonewalling is “when a listener withdraws from an interaction by getting quiet or shutting down.” This behavior, characterized by withdrawal and silence, is often a result of feeling mentally or emotionally overwhelmed. It’s an effort to regain a sense of calm and control, which is understandable, but a refusal to engage at all devalues the relationship and isolates you from each other.  Stonewalling sends an undeniably hurtful message to your partner. The lack of eye contact, disinterest and intentional avoidance say, “You’re not important and I’m not interested in moving our relationship forward.”

John Gottman offers these divorce predictors or “Four Horsemen” as a warning, but also a reason for hope.  If you know what to look for, you, your partner and an experienced relationship counselor can help defend your relationship against the subtle sabotage of the “Four Horseman.”  I’m a coach/counselor in San Antonio, Texas.  Call me to make an appointment if you need help with your marriage.