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Tools and tips for every day relationship problems. Blog posts on how to stop conflict, how to have more intimacy and how to have better communication with your husband, wife or partner.

Filtering by Tag: Conflict

Do you want to stop a fight dead in its tracks?

Erika Boissiere

Learn the #1 Relationship Tool to End Fighting

Do you and your partner have the same argument over and over or fights that are out of control? Although the topic of your battles with your partner may seem trivial, perpetuating a pattern of psychologically harmful and potentially violent behavior can be toxic to your relationship and personal well-being. So how do you get off that crazy ride? 

If you get to a place where your fighting feels like there is no solution in sight, consider taking a time out. No, we are not treating you like a child, but instead reminding you that you are an adult and have control of your own behavior. Remove yourself from the situation, physically calm down and take some time to collect your thoughts and emotions. The goal of this exercise is to disrupt your usual negative and destructive pattern with your partner and create an opportunity for you to reset and enable better communication with your partner.  

Either partner can signal a time out at anytime during a fight. You and your partner have the ability to stop abusive, psychologically harmful and incredibly stressful behaviors right now, from this day forward. World-renowned couples therapist Terry Real outlines the steps to taking a proper time out in his novel, “The New Rules of Marriage.”

Step 1: Create a Contract 

Agree in advance that each of you has a “right to leave the fight” to take a “time out.“ You can physically leave the location all together or choose to at least not be in each others physical presence. This right is sacrosanct and must be upheld by both partners and can only be broken if there is a safety concern. 

Step 2: Here's How you do it

Signal to your partner that you need a “time out.” Speak from an “I” position. For example, “Dear partner, for whatever reason, right or wrong, I am about to lose it. If I keep this up, I will regret what I will say or do. I am taking a break. I will check back in with you responsibly.”  Both partners need to immediately stop the interaction.  Finally, never tell your partner that they need a “time out."

Step 3: Timing 

Wait at least 20 minutes before reengaging with your partner.  At times, you may need to take 1-2 hours, ½ day, or an entire day.  When you are ready to reengage, you don’t need to necessarily do so in person. 

Step 4: The trigger topic is taboo for 24 hours 

Once you and your partner have resumed communication, for the next 24 hours, do not discuss the topic that sparked the argument. Once 24 hours has passed, you can talk about the conflict.   

Still Having Trouble?

Consider couples counseling. Learn about our services or contact us here.

Are you Fighting about Money in Your Relationship?

Erika Boissiere

Is Money Causing your and your Partner to Fight?

Money. We love it and we hate it. Most people site that it is the number one thing they fight about with their partner. The typical couple that has financial differences looks like this: one partner is liberal with their money, and the other is conservative. One partner doesn’t bat an eye when it comes to purchasing, and the other has a mini-stroke each time he or she pulls out their wallet.

The classic paradox: saver versus spender.

Financial differences eat away at the relationship. The constant fighting about what is the “right approach” will continue on because partner feels vindicated and almost absolute that their approach is in fact the correct one.  Although a financial manager may tell you differently, it is also our job to tell you there is no 100% right way. Getting to a place where money isn’t your #1 fight is our goal. So how do we solve such a complicated dilemma? Our approach is that financial differences follows this methodology:

Let go of being right versus wrong

Unless there is a severe spending issue, debt, and behaviors that are troublesome, your saving or spending approach is not 100% correct. Once you let that go, we can get to a place of compromise.

Come together on financial goals – both having equal weight on deciding the goals together

Decide together what you want your financial picture to look like. Review current and future goals, as both are important.

Look at "what" You are fighting About

Is there a deeper dynamic going on? If your partner is unhappy in your relationship, we often see money be the vehicle to display anger or unhappiness. Find out what is really going on within your relationship.

Do Not get stuck in The parenting position

Whatever goals you decide upon, be careful not to slip into the mommy/daddy role with your partner. Once you step into the parenting role, not only does intimacy get lost, but you have just assumed a responsibility that will perpetuate the problem.

Stick to what you said

Nothing is more important than doing what you said you were going to do. Be conscious about it. Set prompts for yourself. Behavior change is hard, but you can do it if you constantly keep it alive in your mind.

Still Having Trouble?

Consider couples counseling. Learn about our services or contact us here.

The Top 10 Mistakes Couples Make When Fighting

Erika Boissiere

How to Stop Fighting in Your Relationship

Every couple fights. Some do it in big boisterous ways, while others do it in small unnoticeable ways. Either way, there are pitfalls that any couple can fall into when fighting.

These top 10 mistakes are the most common conflict tactics that couples use, and often get them into hot water.

In reading below, ask yourself and be honest: Which one do you do? It is with this reflection that will give you insight into changing your conflict pattern with your partner. And hopefully, change your relationship for the better.

Fighting Mistake #1: Being right & blaming: How much does being “right” matter to you?

We get it. No one likes to be wrong, but how badly do you need to be right? Is it hard for you to accept responsibility? If you often find yourself in a fight waiting to hear those words, “you’re right honey” but rarely say them, we have bad news - eventually your partner will want to check out.

Fighting Mistake #2: Unbridled self-expression: Do you talk and talk…and rarely listen?

You are in a fight. You are mad. More than anything, you want to tell your partner everything that is on your mind. And when we say “everything," we mean--everything. If you talk a lot but rarely listen, it is hard for your partner to remain focused and engaged. By taking this approach, you are telling your partner in a small, but big way, “I deserve to be listened to, but you don’t.”

Fighting Mistake #3: Being defensive: The problem is, you’re defensive about being defensive.

If people seem to be walking on tiptoe when they are around you, you are probably acting defensive.  Why is being defensive a problem? Defensiveness ultimately teaches the other partner to either have to skillfully craft their communication for you, or they will choose not bring up anything unless it is in agreement with you. Ultimately, this makes a relationship not healthy. It is often hard for someone who acts defensive to acknowledge their behavior or accept this feedback. Take a deep breath, and try to think to yourself – do I act defensive?

Fighting Mistake #4: Using extreme language: “you always” or “you never.”

Often when we get into fights, we tend to use extreme language. To ensure we make our point understood and heard we resort to big language. However, extreme language, such as "you always" or "you never" is rarely accurate,  over-inflates the problem, and can escalate a fight.

Fighting Mistake #5: Not expressing your feelings. “Are you mad at me?” “No, I’m fine.”

Does your partner often ask, “Are you mad at me?” And is your response, “No, I’m fine," when you're actually fuming inside?  How long does this cycle continue until you finally admit that you are mad?  This strategy might work for a while, but eventually it is going to get really tiresome for your partner. 

Fighting mistake #6: Being sarcastic or passive aggressive.

Sarcasm can be funny, but when you are in a heated fight, it will only infuriate your partner. On the other hand, passive aggressiveness confuses your partner. You may ask nicely for their help, but the well of resentment and anger in your voice is obvious. Both of these communication modes tend to escalate and prolong fights, as they indirectly communicate your needs, feelings and emotions.

Fighting Mistake #7: Telling your partner what to do: you always know best.

You tell your partner how to cook, how to clean, how to change the diaper, how to park, how to chew their food – really, it can be and will be…just about anything.  Unknowingly, you are criticizing your partner. You may believe that you are helping them – but if you are constantly correcting, admonishing or critiquing, you are acting like a parent. It may be hard to admit, but take a step back and ask yourself – how often do I criticize my partner? About what sorts of things? If your critiques are trivial in nature, then this might be your current strategy.

Fighting Mistake #8: Not staying on topic.

You are mad. Your partner is mad. You start fighting about one thing, and then you rehash another fight from a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly, you’ve got a whole armory of things you are mad about, and you start slinging them at your partner.  You're making “fight soup”!  You defend on one topic, and then suddenly you are arguing about something you can hardly remember. “Wait, what did I do again?” Now is the time to learn how to stay on one topic.

Fighting Mistake #9: The never-ending fight: It’s 2AM and you Are still at it.

If you are the type of couple whose fights continue on, and on, and on – it is time to take a new approach. Marathon fights tend to lead to more fights. More issues get discussed, more feelings get hurt, and rarely is peaceful resolution reached when it's all over.

Fighting Mistake #10: Going into problem solving mode: fixing the problem sometimes isn’t the answer.

You want to help. We get it. You say to yourself, “I’ve been there before, I can help!” Or, “I know how to handle this perfectly – you just need to…” And you’re right. You might know. You may have been there before, but your partner isn’t you. Your partner has a different set of experiences and may have a different way of solving the same problem that is right for them.

Still Having Trouble?

Consider couples counseling. Learn about our services or contact us here.