It’s not unusual for me to ask a couple who is initially coming in for couples therapy in Scottsdale, how do you typically resolve or reconnect after an argument? Often, the couple will look at each other and give a response that they might have a brief follow up talk and then move on. Done? Resolved? Not even kind of!
It’s so important to actually take time to repair after a disconnect. It can potentially prevent the issue from coming up again, you can feel closer to your partner as a result, and it gives you an opportunity to notice how assumptions and miscommunications occur.
1) Prior to talking it out with your partner, take a moment to reflect on what happened. What emotion got triggered in the argument other than anger (hurt, pain, fear, inadequate, etc.)? What were you telling yourself about your partner? About the relationship? For example, “I must not matter to him”; “I can’t get it right for her no matter how hard I try”.
2) Decide together when it is the right time to talk. Make sure you ask each other if you are in a good place to have the conversation.
3) Try to share with each other what happened for both of you. When you ______________, I felt like _________________ because ______________________. No interrupting, defending, or explaining. By listening, you are not necessarily agreeing! You are just trying to understand what happened for your partner.
4) See if an apology is warranted, and if it feels genuine prior to apologizing. Don’t follow an “I’m sorry” with a “but” because it negates the apology.
5) This conversation should not be terribly long unless you are both engaged and feeling connected. If the argument gets re-triggered, try again at a later time.
Sometimes after having the same argument over and over again, it’s a great time to have a third person help you both navigate the process. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy developed by Sue Johnson, focuses on a model of uncovering the negative pattern that occurs and having different conversations which move toward resolution and healing.
Rachel Thomas – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881