What if we fought about what actually mattered?
I work with couples in my Sacramento therapy office that are rarely arguing about what they’re actually arguing about. Confusing, huh?
Let me break it down for a second. During negative interactions with our mate, we have both a reactive and a vulnerable side. It’s extremely rare for the vulnerable side to be shared during this negative interaction. We usually let our reactive side be seen and shut down the vulnerable side.
For example a couple is arguing about wife being routinely late coming home from work. The argument looks something like husband getting upset about wife not being home on time. Wife then feels attacked so she becomes defensive minimizing how big of a deal it is to be late and telling husband he just needs to deal with it. And the argument escalates with no resolution. All examples of the reactive side.
But what if the vulnerable side was also talking?
Same example as above but what if wife is late coming home from work and husband shares that it upsets him when she doesn’t come home because it feels like he doesn’t matter and she doesn’t prioritize the time they want to spend together. Wife responds by understanding how she hurt husband’s feelings by routinely not showing him that the time they spend together is important and the two of them work towards a resolution of adjusting expectations and increasing communication around times wife will be late.
Much more vulnerable conversation, right? And a heck of a lot more effective.
And this is what we do in couple’s therapy. We’re trying to get below the noise and really identify what couples are actually arguing about. Because once we get below the noise, we can actually break the negative patterns of interaction and start finding resolutions and understanding each other’s back stories, the vulnerable part.
So next time you’re entering into a negative interaction with your mate, what if you slowed down and actually asked what it is that the two of you are arguing about?
Because I can pretty much guarantee it’s not about coming home late or forgetting to take out the garbage…it’s really about feeling forgotten, feeling unsafe, feeling unheard and those are key things that really need to be resolved in order for your relationship to be done with conflict once and for all!
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help navigating through this stuff. Often times it can be challenging to explore the back story on your own and counseling is an amazing resource to work through it safely and effectively. Having a loving and connected relationship is hard work but man is it worth it!
As always, I want to hear from you! I want to know what your journey through connection and love is like and most of all I want to know how you’re applying these tools into your own relationship.
Send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, give me a call, 916.955.3200 or comment below.
I can’t wait to hear from you.