How to Resolve Couple Conflict

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Do you and your mate have the same arguments over and over? The truth is: every couple experiences conflict. Simply because no two people are exactly alike. Add the fact that men and women speak different languages, and you’re sure to have trouble brewing sooner or later. No matter what you do – whether you try to talk things through or simply try to avoid the topic – nothing gets resolved. It’s a trap that’s hard to escape.

I know how conflict feels, personally and professionally. I didn’t always have the resources I needed when I needed them. If I had, my life might have turned out differently. But I want things to go better in my future … and in yours!

An essential step in resolving couple conflict is to define your interactional patterns – the dance that you and your mate repeat in a never-ending negative spiral when you’re not getting along.

So let’s talk about how the two of you interact in the midst of conflict. By describing what you do, how you feel, your physical responses, and how the two of you interact, you will be able to define your Negative Cycle.

That’s not easy to do when you’re in the middle of it all. It’s hard for anyone to be objective when you’re experience intense emotions. But with a little direction, you can do it by reflecting on your most recent argument.

Believe it or not, the topic or even the intensity of the fight doesn’t really matter. Research shows that most of your disagreements follow the same pattern, no matter what you’re arguing about.

Patterns & Positions

When you’re not getting along, you and your mate will tend to respond to one another in “opposites.”

  • One person initiates.
  • The other responds.

Your couple pattern also reveals your relative positions in the cycle.

  • One person takes the position of pursuer/attacker/blamer.
  • The other takes the position of withdrawer/defender.

Are you the Pursuer?

The Pursuer is often just trying to talk about an emotionally sensitive issue. He or she – intentionally or unintentionally – launches the cycle. The cycle launches when the pursuer hits a “trigger” oe speaks in a negative “tone” or does both.

  • Most of the time, it is fully unintentional.
  • What you see and hear is a result of anxiety or worry.

Are you the Defender?

The Defender defends because of a perceived attack, blame, or criticism. He or she often tries to

  • Minimize – to lessen the importance of the situation or
  • Explain – to invalidate and/or eliminate a mate’s feelings.

In reality, minimizing and explaining are futile attempts to end the conflict. They actually make things worse.

Sometimes the defender launches a counterattack for self-protection. Counterattacks cause mates to switch positions. When this happens, it may be difficult to define your cycle in simple terms.

Sometimes the defender will stonewall, shut down, or simply walk away.

Don’t be discouraged by this exercise.

It can take a bit of detective work to figure it out. But you’ve got this!

Feel free to post your questions or comments below. Or you can reach out to me via email from my contact page. Remember, I’m here to help.

Your Free Quick Start Guide

To help you describe what happens when you’re not getting along, I created this free Quick Start Guide checklist for you.

Completing this checklist, then comparing your responses with your mate’s responses will help you identify the pattern that’s keeping you stuck.