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:
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...
Inga Gentile, MFT
“Why does she always seem to get clingy right when I have to go out of town for work?”
“Why does he lock himself in his office after work and watch Netflix while I’m alone in the living room?”
Many couples experience confusion and frustration related to often repeated scenarios like these. But it’s not a sign that your partner doesn’t love you. Or that you’re not the right fit.
There’s actually a psychobiological reason these scenarios play out among couples everywhere. It’s called implicit memory. Implicit memory begins at birth and is unconscious and nonverbal. It precedes declarative memory, which refers to the conscious recollection of facts and events. Implicit memory, on the other hand, because it involves older, more primitive parts of your brain, operates rapidly and largely outside of your awareness.
How does implicit memory play out in your...
Relationships are messy, and all couples experience conflict. Becoming skillful at repairing those conflicts quickly is the ultimate goal, but when we are in distress, under threat, or in the heat of an argument, it can be hard to stay connected to the (higher cortical) parts of our brain, which use intelligence to create and maintain peace and harmony. The (lower/subcortical) fast-acting, survival-oriented parts of our brain are poised to quickly identify danger and respond with a rapid reflex, directing us straight into battle.
Winston and Abby, a couple in their mid-30s, came to couple therapy 5 years into their marriage because they had "stalled," were having the "same type of fight," and felt "resentment and fatigue" were setting in. They wanted to stay together but were stuck in a never-ending loop of finger...