At Counseling Las Cruces, many couples come in trying to figure out why they are fighting so much and not getting the results they are looking for. Techniques such as raising the voice, sarcastic tones, finger pointing, bringing up old issues, and complaining are used, but nobody is feeling heard. Many times, hurtful things are said that are difficult to overcome. At the end of the fighting match, couples feel frustrated, angry, shut down and many times want to give up, perhaps even let go of the relationship. Does this sound familiar?
So, how does one fight to get positive results? Couples experiencing conflict need to re-think the techniques they are using and replace them with new tools. What are those? Try to implement the following:
Start your message with “I feel…” and explain what it is you want. For example, “I feel angry when there is texting at the dinner table” vs. “You make me angry when you text…”
Don’t talk at the same time as your partner. Take turns and LISTEN.
Paraphrase back to your partner what they just said. You don’t have to agree, just repeat it back and NOT in a mocking tone. “So, if I am hearing you correctly, you feel …”
Stay focused on the present issue. Bringing up the past is counter-productive.
Avoid becoming defensive. Be assertive by using statements such as, “You may be right,”” or “I have to think about that.”
DO NOT fight in front of the children.
Avoid cursing, sarcasm, blaming.
Avoid generalizations (“You always…,” “You never…”).
Do not walk out of the room, unless you are declaring a “time out” to cool off, and name a follow up time to discuss the issue.
Don’t bring up old hurts, grudges, or sore points if not relevant to what you are discussing at the moment.
Keep a time limit. Don’t let arguments stretch on indefinitely.
DO NOT threaten bodily harm, as well as throwing objects, or smashing your fist into a wall.
Do not talk of breaking up or divorce in the heat of the moment.
It is important to remain calm and not overreact. Know your goals in having this discussion. Be aware of the different possibilities of resolution. The goal is not to win, but come up with a mutually satisfying solution. At Counseling Las Cruces, we work to help couples implement these new tools and as a result, they feel heard, even supported by their partner, and learn important strategies that can be implemented in all areas of conflict in their lives.