Successful Couples Repair Conflict

Conflict 10

Let’s face it. All couples fight. In successful relationships as well as others. Having fights is not necessarily a sign that your relationship is doomed to failure.

If all couples fight, What then makes the difference between successful vs unsuccessful relationships?

Simply put, one major difference is having the skills and ability to repair the emotional damage done during the fight. Some couples simply can’t get past it and simmer for days, weeks, even months. I know of one couple that kept a resentment for years. They didn’t divorce – they simply built a wall between them and added a few more bricks every month until there basically was no hope of reconnecting.This couple slept in separate bedrooms, rarely talked to each other, ate meals separately and kept separate financial resources. They basically were roommates.

Other couples fortunately have better skills and can bounce back from a conflict, a bad behavior on the part of one or the other, or from the pain of a grievance. Some couples just know how to do it. Mary and Jim were such a couple. They were a young professional couple with no children but strong personalities and a strong need for autonomy. She often wanted to do something that he considered irresponsible or not practical (she was an artist). He would “question” her on it (which she heard as a challenge). Her response? Anger, saying to herself “he is not going to tell ME what to do.” He replied that he was not trying to tell her what to do, he was just inquiring as to what was going on.

This led to an escalating fight with each “pushing the buttons” of the other until they no longer could stand to be in the same room. In effect, they had activated each other’s psychological alarm system so both their brains were now in a “fight and protect” mode. So they sulked for a while, until their nervous systems calmed down to normal levels. This allowed one of them (Mary)to quietly say “I’m sorry.” Then came, “I really love you and can’t imagine life without you.” Jim then said, “Let’s get on the same team and figure out a solution to the issue.”

More generally, partners with good repair skills do with following:

  • They keep the relationship itself in mind when arguing over an issue. It’s not only about “winning” – certainly not at the cost of rupturing the relationship. They WANT the relationship to work. They strive for emotional connection and harmony.
  • They realize that not all couples problems are fixable – some issues will always be there. The trick to repair is to learn how to live with each other around the issues rather than trying to change the other person to make them less irritating to you. The challenge is to cope (within reason and without losing your “self” in the process) better while finding ways to satisfy each other’s needs.
  • They are mature enough to realize that their partners have a perfect right to their own opinions and ways of doing things. They try to drop judgment and instead strive to understand their partner better.
  • Finally, couples with good repair skill do not bring up the past to use as a weapon. They stick to the current issue without slamming their partner with insults, name-calling, accusations, or “dead cow” issues.
  • AngerCoach Online

    Anger Management Class is a big step for some

    It is a huge step for some people to commit to an anger management class.

    Recently we had one fellow who was angry because he had to attend anger management classes or lose his relationship. He shared that he came early, circled the building and then drove away, deciding that he was too angry to walk up the stairs to the class.

    As he was driving away, it occurred to him that if he was angry at the anger management classes, maybe he did indeed have a problem.

    So, he turned around and came back.

    It takes a lot of courage to start a self-development program especially if you are using an activity tracker. It starts with the acceptance that one has a problem, a decision to overcome fear or resistance, and then a commitment to do something about it.

    Anger Management In Action: Let sleeping dogs lie?

    Silenced

    “How did your week go, Samuel?” I asked my married patient who  consulted me for anger management and anger management skills to deal with his wife.

    “Much better,” he replied, “because I kept my mouth shut this time when I desperately wanted to argue with her because I knew I was right. I decided to apply one of the anger management tools you taught me.”

    “What did you do instead?” I asked him.

    Sam replied: ” I took your advice and simply left the house, went into the back yard for 10 minutes to cool off, then came back in and everything was OK. I didn’t argue with her over the issue because it wasn’t that important. I didn’t have to win this time; I just let it go.”

    We continued our therapy session pet hair vacuum guide by agreeing that “talking” about an issue doesn’t always solve it. In fact, sometimes it makes it worse. In intimate relationships, sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie, as they say.  Believe it or not, over-asking about the issue sometimes becomes the issue.

    Have you ever had this conversation with your partner?

    “What are you upset about?”

    “I’m not upset.”

    “Yes, you are. tell me why you are upset. Was it something I said?”

    “OK. if you insist. I am upset because you keep asking me if I’m upset.” Continue reading “Anger Management In Action: Let sleeping dogs lie?”

    Anger Management In Action: Try Simple Habit Changes

    Thirty one year old Harry is a fairly typical client in our local anger management classes. At work he is considered a very nice man, a lamb, really. By his co=workers, he would be voted last place on a list of people who needed anger management.

    But his wife Holly tells a different story. She would vote him numero uno on the list! When not yelling or criticizing her, he comes across as sarcastic, nasty and degrading to her. Yet, if asked privately how he felt about his wife he would say that he loved her and he doesn’t know why he treats her the way he does.

    Harry doesn’t realize it, but he has developed a habit of communicating those ways to his wife when she says or does certain things that “trigger” him.

    A habit is the opposite of mindfulness. It is going though a certain “routine” without even thinking about it. It is mindless behavior…automatic behavior…that does not involve thinking.

    When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard – or diverts to other tasks.

    Habits are often as much a curse as a benefit. They shape our lives- and our relationships – far more than we realize. They are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them to the exclusion of all else, including common sense.

    A bad relationship habit can be formed long before we are in a relationship, often starting in childhood and strengthened throughout the years. How do habits form? According to author Charles Duhigg who wrote “The Power of Habits”, it takes constant repetition of three ingredients for a habit to form:

    A Trigger of some kind

    A Routine (Reaction to the trigger)

    A Reward

    Let’s breakdown Harry’s habit and see what it going on.

    A Trigger (Holly “commanded” him in sharp voice to complete a “honey-do” around the house………

    A Routine #1: Harry (in his head said to himself: “I am not a child; she can’t boss me around that way;I’ll say I will do it but then won’t actually do it until I am good and ready.”)

    Routine #2- He says to holly: “Get off my back…you are the last person who should talk about getting things done….you can’t order me around…why don’t you worry about your stuff and I’ll worry about mine”

    RewardGains control over wife; feels autonomous, able to rebel and get away with it

    This habit cycle probably has occurred all Harry’s life starting with his mother or father (authority figures) and repeated often. Now, it is automatic; he doesn’t even think of trying to think differently.

    Harry’s habit is what is known as a relationship “keystone” habit. It has a ripple affect on the family. Unfortunately, it is a negative affect.

    Because of his habit the atmosphere of the whole house changes and is soured. Holly has been through this routine many times before with Harry. After waiting three hours for him to do the honey-do, she finally explodes and calls him a passive-aggressive person. They brood all night, barely talking to each other.There is no conversation at the dinner table. The children are upset and tense.

    Can People change Habits?

    Are You Ready To Change?
    Are You Ready To Change?

    The answer is YES with motivation, persistence and practice. The good news is that when we are dealing with keystone habits, one little change can ripple into many positive things.

    How do we do it? According to Duhigg cited above, we change a habit by changing the “routine” part of the equation, since we often cannot change the trigger or the reward that we are after. That is, we RESPOND instead of REACT to the trigger. Harry should find a different way to deal with his wife’s commanding behavior. How about asking her to ask him in a nicer way? How about being honest with her and actually saying when he will do the task? How about telling her how her tone makes him feel?

    Working on changing simple keystone habits is an excellent place to start to repair a relationship and get love feelings flowing again. I encourage it with my local patience because it is simple in concept, it is “do-able,” and it can make a large difference for relatively little effort put into it.

    LEARN MORE PRACTICAL SKILLS INSTANTLY…….
    Learn more practical tools for anger management and ways to handle conflict in your relationship in our acclaimed workbook Anger Management for the Twenty-First Century ebook. Instant download.

    Next time: I will share the most common habit changes that couples make that really make a difference!

    AMTC-AD-Light

    Was Jesus Ever Angry?

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers. I write this from lovely Sante Fe, New Mexico while looking our at the majestic mountains and thinking about life and the role of anger in our lives. Then, I came across this article. while surfing the net. Although we do not teach anger management from a faith-based perspective, the following is excellent. clear, and is very much consistent with the tools of anger management that we do teach in our programs.

    Enjoy…..be mindful of these points during the coming year, and lead your life putting anger in its proper perspective.

    The following article is copied from the website http://www.gotquestions?org with permission to do so with proper attribution. Please visit their site if you have further questions on this topic.

    Question: “Was Jesus ever angry?”

    Answer: When Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and animal-sellers, He showed great emotion and anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). Jesus’ emotion was described as “zeal” for God’s house (John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship. Because these were at stake, Jesus took quick and decisive action. Another time Jesus showed anger was in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He looked around at them in anger, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5).

    Many times, we think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion that we should eradicate from our lives altogether. However, the fact that Jesus did sometimes become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, is amoral. This is borne out elsewhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us “in your anger do not sin” and not to let the sun go down on our anger. The command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner. We note the following facts about Jesus’ displays of anger:

    1) His anger had the proper motivation. In other words, He was angry for the right reasons. Jesus’ anger did not arise from petty arguments or personal slights against Him. There was no selfishness involved.

    2) His anger had the proper focus. He was not angry at God or at the “weaknesses” of others. His anger targeted sinful behavior and true injustice.

    3) His anger had the proper supplement. Mark 3:5 says that His anger was attended by grief over the Pharisees’ lack of faith. Jesus’ anger stemmed from love for the Pharisees and concern for their spiritual condition. It had nothing to do with hatred or ill will.

    4) His anger had the proper control. Jesus was never out of control, even in His wrath. The temple leaders did not like His cleansing of the temple (Luke 19:47), but He had done nothing sinful. He controlled His emotions; His emotions did not control Him.

    5) His anger had the proper duration. He did not allow His anger to turn into bitterness; He did not hold grudges. He dealt with each situation properly, and He handled anger in good time.

    6) His anger had the proper result. Jesus’ anger had the inevitable consequence of godly action. Jesus’ anger, as with all His emotions, was held in check by the Word of God; thus, Jesus’ response was always to accomplish God’s will.

    When we get angry, too often we have improper control or an improper focus. We fail in one or more of the above points. This is the wrath of man, of which we are told “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20). Jesus did not exhibit man’s anger, but the righteous indignation of God.
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    Angry Mothers: Learn Mindfulness. Then Teach It To Your Children!

    Copy of assertive-arm and hand movements angry woman

    The Problem
    “I can’t deal with my own children,” lamented a young mother in one of our anger management classes.“They won’t listen, they do exactly what they want, they constantly fight with each other, and they won’t do their chores without a major argument.”

    This young mother was ashamed that she was constantly angry at her own children. In response to their behavior, she would yell at them, call them names, and make empty threats of horrible consequences for non-compliance.But these responses did not seem to work; in fact, it made things worse as the children developed resentment and increased defiance toward their screaming mother.

    The Solution As in an airline emergency, first put the oxygen mask on yourself. Then, put the oxygen mask on your children. You can’t expect your children to show good coping skills. and to handle stress well if you are impaired yourself.

    Start by learning and then teaching mindfulness. to your children. It is amazingly simple, yet very effective over time. It helps mothers first deal with their own stress and anger and then gives her tools to teach to their children so that they can generally cope better with life. The positive effects of mindfulness has much science behind it and has many applications for both children and adults.

    Mindfulness can be many things, but at its core, it is the skill of learning to focus on our present thoughts, feelings and body sensations without judgement. Many people associate this with meditation, but meditation is only one path to achieve mindfulness. It is very useful for relaxation, but it is much more than that. For children, it helps them become more attentive, balanced, and aware. For some, it has the potential to help kids see their lives more clearly, to become more positive and less tired, and to chose appropriate life paths.Learn more about this on CPR Classes Tampa.

    As a first step toward helping our stressed client deal with her own stress, we taught her various tools of anger control. As a starter, we introduced the concept of mindful meditation consisting of simple breathing exercises. Mindfulness helps both mother and child calm down, to re-focus on what is important, to become more reflective, and to perhaps teach both to respond in different ways to family stress. Research shows that mindful practices over time increase “emotional intelligence” in children as they better understand how their brain works and how to develop more self-control with that knowledge.

    Following are some simple breathing meditations that mother and child can practice together, taken from a book called “The Mindful Child” by Susan Kaiser Greenland :

    Counting 1-1-1-1-1-1. When you breath in, let your body relax. When you breath out, silently count one, one, one, until your lungs feel empty. Repeat by relaxing again as you inhale and silently counting two, two, two, two, two, as you exhale. Repeat once more by relaxing as you inhale again and silently counting three, three,three, three, for the entire out breath. Continue this exercise in sets of three breaths (counting 1 on the first exhale, 2 on the second, and 3 on the third), until your mind quiets and you can rest in the physical sensation of breathing without counting.

    When teaching this to your child, be aware that it takes time for them to accept the idea. Don’t force the issue, or another power struggle may develop, making things worse. For younger children, you may have to start with a 1 minute exercise, then gradually expand the time as your child progresses and sees the benefit. Don’t force them to close their eyes; some people prefer to keep eyes open.

    The actress Goldie Hawn has written a delightful book on mindfulness called “10 Mindful Minutes.” which I would recommend to all parents. Among the wise nuggets of information is the followng: “Mindful parenting involves recognizing and nurturing our children’s unique personalities and not seeing them as projections of ourselves. There’s simply no cookie-cutter standard for how to treat our children.”

    In our anger management classes we teach parents to respond instead of react to the behavior of our children that is troublesome. Hawn, in her book, amplifies this approach by saying that “reactive parenting can be very detrimental for our children. Yelling at them for forgetting something or doing something we don’t like only frightens them – it doesn’t make them stop.” We can gain control over our anger by understanding that our higher thinking has been hijacked by our emotional state; hence, we’re no longer in control.”

    Once parents learn to respond differently to their children – not just react in knee-jerk fashion- the next step is to teach their children the same. Children need to understand how their brain works and how to deal with anger and frustration that all people experience. Hawn explains this simply as follows: “The anger and frustration that we feel in such moments is simply our Guard Dog amygdala {section of the brain} responding to the perceived stressful situation and taking over our emotions. Once we understand this, we can learn to recognize when we’ve been hijacked and accept that the path back to clear thinking is mindful awareness. ….”

    In summary, a mindful approach to parenting quiets the minds of both parent and child, reduces stress, and puts both of you more in control of your emotions. Doesn’t that sound better than living in a family with constant yelling, screaming, negativism, and fighting?

    Wecome New Marital Arts Anger Educators

    On behalf of Tom Callos and myself, welcome to the following forward-looking martial arts instructors/owners who have recently completed training as Anger Management Educators for Marital Arts Instructors with The Anger Coach.  Completion of this innovative 20-hour online program identifies them as forward-thinking members of their community and their profession. They see their mission as arming their  students with a kind of mental self-defense that brings them peace and happiness for years to come. They will be teaching young people how to handle their emotions BEFORE they they become adults who have fallen victim to their own (or someone else’s) anger. They are PREVENTION specialists, who have  tremendous influence with young people—and  have dedicated their lives to the quest for personal mastery and self-defense. Anger management, in today’s world, is self-defense. If you live near their communities, contact them for more information.

    Brian Myers: Greenwood, Indiana

    Paul Gannon: Leicester, United Kingdom

    Keith Turpin: Mocksville, North Carolina

    Jason Gould: Framingham, Massachusetts

    Again, congratulations to all our anger educators. If you would like to become a certified anger educator, you can get more information and sign-up by clicking here.

    Dr Tony Fiore

    The Anger Coach

    Anger Coach Online