Stopping the Fight  

When couples are in the fight, nothing one says is going to influence the other in a positive way. Skewed communication literally bounces off the walls as words become ammunition and protective armor. You can start changing that today!
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Sentences are filled with accusations. You did this today. You did that yesterday. And for good measure, you did something worse ten years ago! Most people shut down after the first YOU. It feels like an indictment and doesn’t often indicate a willingness to problem solve. Most often, it is an indication by one partner that the other has caused a problem. Correction, IS the problem. Frequently, the helpful partner making the YOU statement gives a suggestion as to just what the other partner needs to do to get their life in order. The accusing partner walks away with an anger high pleased to have said what their partner needed to hear, yet expresses surprise when the partner not only does not follow-up with their suggestions, but seems to dig in deeper to their old annoying behavior pattern.

What went wrong? The couple expressed resentments and each one reacted, as if under attack. Although one partner thought he or she was problem-solving, there was no open door to discover what actually was causing the problem. In reality, their attacking communication may have been reinforcement of triggers which build additional barriers to negotiation and closeness.

Couples can practice more effective problem-solving with the day to day problems in life. Many initially think this is silly. However, one or both may have grown up in a home where problems were addressed in the same manner they are attempting today. Role modeling may have been negative.

Some helpful tips to get out of the fight and become closer to your partner:

1.     Eliminate the YOU accusations. It takes a concentrated effort and practice for adults who have used this for a lifetime. However, it immediately can lift some stress from a relationship.

2.      Develop a warning code word or phrase which the two of you can use in public. This code word signifies to the other one to back off. This is important because couples often do not know how each hurts the other. A simple agreement on this can reinforce you are working together to solve problems. It also shows respect.

3.      Learn healthy assertiveness skills. Identify what you need and negotiate with your partner.

If you'd like to learn more effective techniques to solve problems with your spouse, enroll in our online course Improving Your Relationships today!

Brenda Crawford-Clark, LMHC, LMFT, NCC
Author: Body Sense Balancing Your Weight and Emotions 
©Copyright 2001 Brenda Crawford-Clark