You know this story: You’re having dinner with your partner, and the evening looks good. The next thing you know, the conversation turns and that old wound in the relationship is revisited. The fight begins, one that you’ve had a million times before, and the next thing you know the night is ruined and both you and your partner are upset and emotionally distant.
“Couples fight over a million different things; anything from the washing machine to who picks up the kids,” notes Couples Center founder, Gal Szekely, who I spoke with recently for an episode of my Talking Love series. “But really they’re not fighting over that; they’re fighting over deeper issues around do you really love me, can I count on you, are you there for me.”
The problem is that we care about what our partner thinks, so when they stumble into one of these proxy issues that touches on an emotional trigger for us, we get bothered easily. We respond strongly, our partner gets defensive, and the whole conversation spirals out of control.
The next thing we know, both we and our partner are mad and the conversation has gotten out of hand. We’re setting off each other’s emotional triggers left and right, tensions are high, and voices are loud. The real issue is buried under hurt feelings and the momentum of the fight.
“A lot of couples say, ‘I just don’t know how to communicate right.’ They think it is about a structure. If I just get the right structure of how to say things, the right words, then things will go well. Just give me that tool,” Gal told me when we talked.
But the problem isn’t about having the right communication tool, the right words or structure. There are lots of great communication tools, and most of us know many of them. But in the heat of the moment, we don’t use them.
There’s a better way, thankfully. There’s a way to break that cycle and stop these recurring, devastating fights in our relationship.
“We have to look a little deeper. The real cause of communication problems is not the way you talk, it is the emotional triggers that get evoked,” Gal notes.
Learn how you can finally put an end to these recurring fights by watching my video with Gal. We don’t just talk about the problem, we show you how to fix it with some relatively easy step-by-step instructions for the next time tempers flare.
This is a really important topic, so I hope you’ll click on the video above and put this technique into practice. And if you need help using this technique, give me a shoutout and I’ll be happy to help.
Peter is founder of Kowalke Coaching. He also is founding director of the Philia Mission, a small charitable organization. Contact Peter.