It's inevitable. All couples will argue and push each other’s buttons at times. In fact, partnerships often bring up our core wounds and needs, bringing to the surface that which most needs attention. This happens in many forms, but it is most obvious when we are triggered, such as when our partner’s behaviors activate a sensitive issue within us. A couples counselor can help you figure out the anatomy of how a fight can escalate by deconstructing your feelings and needs. In helping you understand and look at when you get triggered and how that trigger may potentially be causing a ripple trigger effect with your partner, you can stop the negative cycle and more effectively communicate. Our highly specialized couples therapists can help you and your partner increased consciousness and awareness of the dynamics underlying your disagreements; in deepening your mutual understanding, your relationship will become less stressful, more harmonious and even exciting. Your differences will serve as a bookmark, a place in yourself that is calling for healing.
Negative cycles and relationship ruptures cause distress and pain in your partnership. Experiencing rifts and arguments with your partner are normal, but with mindfulness, effective communication skills and intimate trust, you can have a secure functioning partnership. Our San Francisco Bay Area Couples Therapists and Relationship Experts can help you break your negative patterns and establish a loving, trusting and committed partnership.
Misunderstandings and ruptures are a natural part of relationships. One partner may unintentionally say something that lands the wrong way and their partner’s perception may lead to hurt feelings and a mutual reaction that will get the best of both of people.
So how does one repair after such dissonance?
There are two avenues to returning to relationship harmony:
1. Start with Yourself:
The first is starting inside with Self-Regulation.
· Return to your breath, to your connection to your body and the present moment.
· Keep a top ten list for yourself of things that help you calm down and feel comforted.
· Use simple but effective strategies such as drinking a glass of water, taking some essential oils, or having a walk around the block to bring you back to yourself after feeling hurt and riled up.
2. Turn to your partner.
· Does your partner know how to soothe you?
· Do you know how to soothe your partner?
· Practice the commitment to soothe your partner even when you are the cause or perceived cause of the distress. For even when our partners are the cause of the upset, they are also the medicine that can bring us back to zero. It’s important to have the experience of being able to go to your partner in a state of vulnerability, when feeling broken, awkward, and confused…and be met with deep and open receptivity:
· Have them offer you the care that feels right to you. Do you respond well to reassuring words, to gentle touch, to sharing space in nature together? Figure out what your partner needs to know as your personal self-soothing menu and ask them what they prefer as well.
When a hurt child cries, you automatically go to them. Imagine after every relationship rupture or dissonance you encounter with your partner that the hurt child in both of you has risen. Yes, you may experience feelings of indignation, defensiveness, or the urge for distance, but it’s critical to suck it up at times, call in your wise self, and be available to comfort the sensitive place in your partner, as well as to offer your sensitive place for comfort from them. This is not only a peace gesture, but a real opportunity for healing for each of you. Saying something like, “I know we’re both hurting now, and solving our misunderstanding will come when we’re ready to tackle it again. But in the meantime, would you be willing to hold me for a while on the couch?” Or simply asking, “can I do anything to help you feel more connected?” It’s great to already have your partner’s self-soothing menu in mind and just start doing something from their list that’s comforting.
Depending on your attachment style (leaning in, or moving away), relating styles and emotional needs will show up differently after an argument. You may feel compelled to disappear and nurse your wounds by yourself. You may doggedly go after your partner to find they are the one who’s disappearing. Figure out between the two of you what your default reaction is to stress, and make an agreement about the amount of space you both want immediately after an argument. I invite you to keep in mind that your partner’s attention can be the best medicine, and to try to minimize the time spent alone. Take a risk and go to your partner, drop your investment in being right (at least for the moment!), and give them the chance to take care of you.
Our San Francisco Couples Therapists are extensively trained in helping partners identify, understand and repair their negative cycles and find ways to effectively express their feelings and needs. Contact us today for a free phone consultation. We have over 35 San Francisco Bay Area Couples Counseling and Sex Therapy Center locations. All of our licensed and highly skilled psychotherapists, sexologists, coaches, clinical psychologists and marriage & family therapists are trained to help partners have the relationships they strive for.