4 Quick Strategies to Resolve Couple Conflict

by Clinton Power, Grad. Dip Couns/Psych., Ad. Dip Gestalt Therapy

PACT Level 2 Therapist, PACT Ambassador


All couples fight at one time or another. If you think you should never argue, you’re unrealistic. A more productive goal is to learn how to quickly and efficiently resolve your disagreements.

When there's distress in your relationship, you want to move promptly to make things better and reassure each other that you’re in this together and you have each other’s back.

Here are four ways to resolve relationship conflict quickly and reduce relationship distress:

  1. Be friendly in body, touch, words, and tone.

The primitive parts of your brain are quick to identify threats. These threats can be perceived in facial expressions, gestures, postures, certain words or phrases, and tone of voice.

When your primitive brain starts to perceive threat, an increase in your body’s stress response happens, which can lead to defensiveness and further errors in your...

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Lost Your Spark? How to Reignite Your Love

caelen cann for couples Nov 18, 2020

By Caelen S. Cann, MA, LPC, LAC, ADS

PACT Level 3 Candidate, PACT Ambassador


A couple new to me, Kristin and Dan, are sitting in my office. This is their first session, and from what they have presented thus far, their relationship isn’t on fire. “Why are you two seeking couple counseling now?” is a typical question I ask. There’s a long pause, and finally Kristin looks over at Dan and with a shrug states, “Well, it’s just boring. We used to be madly in love and now, after 15 years, it just feels like the fire is gone.” Dan nods in agreement.

There are many reasons for this. And while partners may blame each other for their lack of excitement, other forces are at play that are not so personal. For example, part of what couples may not realize is that some of the “boring” feelings come from the automated part of the brain.

As we go through our day, our brains are constantly on the go — taking in information, getting us from...

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A Note of Gratitude and Our Vision for the Near Future — from Stan and Tracey Tatkin

We’ve known for a long time about the many benefits of cultivating a sense of gratitude: more joy, less stress, better health.

So when anxiety started to bubble up earlier this year, it seemed like an especially good time to begin a more intentional practice of flexing those gratitude muscles. Since then, we’ve made a habit of writing down what we are grateful for each day.

Even though life has been stressful and unpredictable, we’ve found a lot to appreciate. To start, we are truly thankful for our PACT community. This year especially, we found that we’re all in this together.

Silver Linings in 2020

Yes, there have been silver linings.

When we moved suddenly to offer training online earlier this year instead of the in-person training we had planned, we were scrambling to figure things out. Not only did we quickly learn about the usefulness of online training, we learned how resilient and supportive and dedicated our PACT community really is.

You stuck with...

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Protecting Your Relationship from Racism

By Annie Chen, LMFT

PACT Level 2 Therapist


As society shines a light on the injustice and racism that persists within its ranks in the last few months, it's time to take a look at what you can do about racism within the context of committed partnership.

Does societal racism negatively affect your relationship? It very well might, especially if one or both of you identify as Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color (BIPOC). In this article, I use racism as a catch-all term for any number of denigrating and/or defeating insults toward BIPOC, including but not limited to racial slurs, scapegoatingsystemic discriminationcultural appropriation, colorismmicroaggressionsimplicit bias, and structural inequality

Not knowing when you could be subjected to a negative or fatal experience because of your race creates chronic stress and hypervigilance. It's the mind and body's way of being prepared for something bad. Living under racist conditions...

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Metaphors Become Reality: Helping to Secure Relationships Under Threat

By Edna Avraham, LMFT

PACT Level 3 Therapist, PACT Ambassador

www.ednaavraham.com


“We are in the fox hole together.”

“We are rowing the same boat.”

“Don’t poke holes in the couple bubble.

These metaphors represent some of the secure-functioning principles we use with our couples in the PACT approach. They represent collaborating and working as a team, prioritizing the relationship over self, being aware of the other’s emotional state, and being there to support them. 

As PACT therapists, we normally talk about the threats between partners — and use metaphors as visual tools to help couples through real issues. With the pandemic in full force, our couples are now dealing with both real physical and emotional threats. Their economic situation, the lack of extended family support or childcare, and every day stresses put their nervous systems way out of their window of tolerance. We are most likely seeing these clients at...

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Collaboration in the Co-Parenting Partnership

By Aurisha Smolarski, MA, LMFT 

PACT Level 2 Therapist
www.aurishasmolarski.com


 No one said parenting was easy, let alone co-parenting with an ex.

Learning how to co-parent is complicated. It’s a partnership full of emotional undertones and adjustments. Being divorced or separated and having to juggle the co-parenting realities adds layers of coordination and factors to consider.  

Personal and romantic priorities shift, as do the feelings and perceptions about your parenting partner. One thing remains unchanged: a responsibility to ensure that each of your children feels safe and can thrive within the changes and new situations they encounter. 

Experiencing divorce and living in two homes are difficult enough for a child, but it’s the way in which the parents handle their divorce and work together on behalf of the child that creates long-term impact.

A break in the family structure can be incredibly destabilizing for a child. The transition...

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An Exercise to Help Navigate the Effects of Sexual Trauma

By Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S, CST

PACT Level 3 Candidate, PACT Ambassador


For a sexual trauma survivor, the idea or act of being sexual with their partner can be ripe with hopes, pleasure, fears, frustrations, and shame. For the partner of a sexual trauma survivor, sex can be just as daunting; fear over what to say, what to do or not do when their partner feels triggered. Couples can become paralyzed or at war over difficulties in communicating their needs around sex. This is where a PACT therapist can be of invaluable assistance.

Consider Marco and Elana*. Elana endured sexual abuse at the hands of a family member when she was approximately six. The secondary trauma of invalidation and alienation following her eventual outcry left her hesitant to discuss the experience as an adult with any partners, even her long-time partner, Marco. She was in therapy for a long time and, for the most part, experienced few flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about the abuse  as an...

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Cultivating Your Couple Bubble

By Margaret Martin, LCSW

PACT Level 3 Candidate, PACT Ambassador

margaretmartinlcsw.com


In a healthy romantic relationship partners create safety and security with each other. Partners have each other’s backs and the folks around them see that they have each other’s backs. In PACT we refer to this as the couple bubble. We support couples in building a secure functioning relationship and in developing a couple bubble that supports secure functioning.

A couple’s mutual agreements, shared vision of relationship, and the way they navigate life together form the foundation of the couple bubble. Although the couple bubble evolves over time, in a healthy relationship the development begins early. Even in a budding romance partners create the genesis for their bubble when they quickly repair a hurt and take each other´s distress seriously.

The roles and expectations partners have for each other change as they move from a dating relationship to a more committed...

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Getting to the Truth Through Cross-Tracking

By Eda Arduman, Ma.

PACT Level 2 Therapist, PACT Ambassador


The PACT therapist uses cross-tracking — a technique of inquiry as well as an intervention — along with other techniques to understand couple functioning. The therapist is aiming to get information about one partner by directing the question to their partner instead. 

This method allows the therapist to understand how collaborative the couple is as well as how much insight they have regarding each other. The therapist casts the question (regarding Partner B) to Partner A and follows by observing B’s somatic response. The somatic response gives an idea of what the person’s true response is in real time. Then by following up, the therapist can ask B if that is true or not. One can learn a lot about the couple. 

Acquiring Accurate Information

Cross-tracking allows us to acquire accurate information in an indirect way. Asking a person a direct question can be less useful because the person...

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Creating Relational Safety Under Survival Conditions, Part I

By Debra Campbell, MS, LMFT

PACT Level 3 Candidate, PACT Ambassador


Everything is the same, yet nothing is the same. The question of what constitutes acceptable exposure risk to COVID-19 is being debated around the globe. With new medical findings and recommendations emerging daily, how are couples to discern and agree on what constitutes acceptable risk for their families? 

Much like our current circumstances, couples often grapple with reconciling differing opinions, which can feel very unsafe. Enter PACT couples counseling – a style of couples therapy designed to create relational safety, even under the most stressful conditions. Safety issues often originate from a lack of shared principles and people’s inability to successfully put those principles into operation.

In PACT, we believe relationships must be just, fair, kind, mutual, and sensitive for partners to feel safe. While we all want to feel safe in our relationships, we often struggle to provide the very...

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