CHANGING NEGATIVE CYCLES INTO POSITIVE CYCLES
In the last several posts I have focused on skills couples can use to develop a more constructive decision making process. In the next several posts I will discuss some of the individual issues that each members of a couple needs to work on in order to resolve impasses and conflicts. There needs to be a balance in which you and your partner realize that you both contribute to certain patterns in the relationship that cause problems, and that you also each have individual sensitive issues that you need to focus on managing.
For instance, there is only so far you can try to be supportive towards your partner’s feelings if you tend to view thing as being either right or wrong. To a great extent trying to find a way to reach a consensus or a compromise with your wife or husband will require many of us to work on being less judgmental and rigid in our thinking. This is only one example of the link between external behavior and internal thoughts and feelings. We all have conversations with ourselves after an argument with our partner that reinforce attitudes and expectations about how other people operate. Some of these ideas are often true, but do not fit all situations,such as my wife or husband is very controlling and needs to have things his or her way. Other thoughts are mostly exaggerated and dysfunctional assumptions that stem from our fears of being hurt or attacked, such as my partner thinks I am stupid and has no respect for anything I say. Identifying these different attitudes, then deciding which need to be modified and which need to be challenged leads to being less defensive and reactive.
When you are open and honest with yourself in acknowledging what are the emotionally sensitive issues for you in your life and how you typically react, you will find that what your partner says becomes less of a threat to you. In upcoming posts I will outline some of the major emotional issues I have found that many of us struggle with, which often form the motivations that intensify the conflicts we have with our partners.