almost two thirds of repetitive couple arguments are due toIt is a common enough scene.
Everything is going well, you and your partner are getting along just fine, until that one subject is broached. Suddenly, you’re in an argument. Again. In fact, you are in the same argument that the two of you have had a dozen times.
Welcome to gridlocked communication!
Research done by the Gottman Institute indicates that two thirds of couple arguments are due to...
One of the more surprising findings of John Gottman's Research is that the amount of conflict in a relationship is not at all predictive of that relationships longevity or health. This means that you can have a relationship with a whole lot of conflict where both people will report being happy and satisfied, and you can have a relationship with almost zero conflict where no one is happy or satisfied.
What does make the difference, however, is how we manage inevitable conflict, and whether we have a physiologically arousing or calming approach to communication.
As I've said previously, anger isn't the problem. It's aggression that creates trouble in your life and your relationship. A lot of guys are confused when their told they're being too aggressive. They don't really think that what they're doing is aggressive.
More often than not, they're wrong.
Aggression has a job, and in certain arenas can be positive. Those arenas are not your intimate relationships. Aggression is separation and it is domination, it's job is to take up space, grab the powerful position, and convince the other person to back down. That's fine if you're playing sports, or negotiating a contract.
In relationships, however, what we ultimately want is closeness and connection. Aggression will kill any chance you have of that.
Client: "If she wants me to come home early, I do. But when I ask her to, then she 'has too much work to do'!"
Therapist: "It sounds like you resent that."
Client: "Well, yeah! It'd be one thing if she was grateful! I do tons of stuff for her, but when it's her turn, it's tough luck!"
It's a story I've heard from a lot of couples. Resentments building up from old hurts, or perceived unfairness, until they finally they explode into conflict.
Or they never come out and just quietly eat away at the foundations of the relationship, turning love into bitterness or apathy.
If you are feeling resentment toward your partner, that is a red flag. For you. About your own behaviors. Here's what you should do instead.
Most of the men who come to see me for anger management haven't been sent by the courts. They've been sent by their wives and girlfriends, who are tired of being on the receiving end of flashes or torrents of anger, hostility, and contempt. Somehow, these men are managing to never lose their cool at work or on the freeway, even in frustrating situations with people they don't care about at all.
I would call that ironic, if it weren't so tragic.
This is what I call Relational Anger, and I've seen it destroy marriages, ruin parent/child relationships, drive addiction, and create a lot of misery -- for the offender as well as his victims. All the while, these men will express to me their confusion as to why their partners sent them in. Why their partners are leaving them. Why their kids won't talk to them.
So why do they do it? And how can they stop?
Let's face it. Most people don't want to be in therapy. In my practice, I see a lot of men who are there at the request (or insistence) of a loved one who gotten tired of their irritability, pessimism, resentment or angry outbursts. They're told: "You need anger management!"
Perhaps, but if this anger is a change in behavior, then depression may be lurking in there as well.
You've just found out your partner cheated on you. Now what?
The good news: Research shows that a majority of marriages do not end after the discovery of an affair. The bad news: That doesn't mean that the relationship survives.
Mourning the loss of what you had, without destroying your future together can be a tricky path to navigate.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. You've just had your feet knocked out from under you. Here's how to take care of yourself in this new environment:
The Gottman Institute's research shows that to make a relationship last, couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each others hopes for the future. Drs John and Julie Gottman have shown how couples can accomplish this by paying attention to nine core principles that make up the Sound Relationship House.
Chances are you’ve heard the phrase: nice guys finish last. No doubt you can think of a few examples from popular culture, or from people you’ve known—or perhaps from the bathroom mirror this morning.
Is it true, though?
Ever get in your car to drive somewhere and end up going to work (or home) instead? That is your pattern-recognizing brain at work.
One of the brain’s primary jobs is to recognize patterns–and it is very good at its job. It does this for a few different reasons. First, to help keep you safe. Taking in new data, processing it, and allowing our neocortex to decide how to handle it takes time. Time that a predator might exploit to kill you. Time during which a terrible accident may hurt you.
The pattern recognition part of your brain can connect discrete stimuli to a known pattern and coordinate a response much quicker. It is this ability that allows race car drivers to avoid accidents at 200mph, and firefighters to know that a building is about to collapse, without necessarily knowing why. This ability also helps you remember how to tie your shoes.
I am a mindfulness coach, couples counselor and psychotherapist in Austin, Tx.