Couples Conflict Management

One of the main reasons that couples come to therapy is because of arguing. They want to improve their ability to communicate because they feel a sense of failure to talk about things important to them. They usually think that it is the fault of their partner, but careful measurement of their arousal shows they are both dragging each other into a negative cycle of push and pull. Very often one person seems to pursue and the other to withdraw.

Those styles are common.  Emotionally Focused Therapy helps couples get relief from the arguments and find a way to help each other stay out of the negative cycle. The couple learns to recognize what triggers them individually, and then what triggers their partner. Usually one pursues for connection, which seems to the other that he or she is being criticized. Then this partner withdraws, or tries to take a break, which is the very action that distressed the first partner. Through talk therapy and biofeedback, the couple can become more aware their individual contributions to the negative cycle, as well as those of their partner. This helps them to become a team to fight the negative cycle, each trying to help the other by calming their approach when they feel the urge to defend themselves.

Research in the area of couple relationships shows that satisfaction is associated with the partner’s psychological adjustment and good health; conflict on the other hand, leads to social and health problems. A presence of reciprocal negative affect during conflict resolution predicts decreases in marital satisfaction over a three-year to five-year period. Furthermore, increases of physiological arousal can have negative consequences if not properly managed during partner conflicts.

Research in the area of couple relationships shows that satisfaction is associated with the partner’s psychological adjustment and good health; conflict on the other hand, leads to social and health problems. A presence of reciprocal negative affect during conflict resolution predicts decreases in marital satisfaction over a three-year to five-year period. Furthermore, increases of physiological arousal can have negative consequences if not properly managed during partner conflicts.

  • Do you get stuck in the same argument, no matter what it is about?
  • Do you feel hopeless about keeping your partner in the conversation?
  • Do you feel physiologically upset when you argue with your partner?
  • Is your arguing uncomfortably stressful?
  • Do you lose sleep and find it hard to concentrate at work?
  • Are you in constant physical and mental pain?
  • Are activities that were once easy now a struggle?

RELATIONSHIP CONFLICT

Marriage/Separation/Divorce

Conflict resolution through synchronicity

How Does It Work ?

YOU CARE

Arguments are usually about the things you care about. Your emotions are invested in the outcome.

BODY REACTION

Your body is primed for keeping you safe. You go into freeze-or-fight-or-flight mode and your thinking brain goes off-line (you use reflexive coping strategies).

EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY

Your emotions are reactive (you get triggered), focusing on your personal safety, and not on reasonable deliberations about the topic. You send your partner into freeze-or-fight-or-flight mode by your reactivity.

AWARENESS THROUGH THERAPY

You become aware of what your body and mind are doing through the (Conflict Integration Management) CIM™ therapy and learn how to manage your bodily reactions, bringing your thinking brain back online.

“Through outlining and recognizing the negative cycle, the couple can then move on to deeper understanding of the triggers within themselves and help the other by not poking at their raw spot. The integration of the evidence of bodily stress they have learned from their sessions with Brian happen through talk therapy. If couples are getting divorced, the deeper intimacy will not be a part,  but for them to be able to stay in the conversation with an even head and heart will allow them to bring discernment to their divorce deliberations.

The couple working on their marriage will come to understand with deep empathy the difficulties their partner has in the arguments, to calm down or listen attentively. When therapy is complete, they will be able to help themselves in the future as well. This therapy has been tested and found very effective through scientific testing.” Dominique Walmsley, MA, LMHC

References

Bookwala, J. (2005). The role of marital quality in physical health during the mature years. Journal of Aging and Health, 17(1), 85–104.

Coutinho, J., Oliveira-Silva, P., Mesquita, A. R., Barbosa, M., Perrone-McGoveru, K. M., Gonçalves, O. F. (2017). Psychological reactivity in couples during a marital interaction task. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 42, pp. 335-346.

Johnson, S. (2007). Emotion in couple therapy. Therapy Today18(6), 7-11. Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P. R., & Berant, E. (2013). An attachment perspective on therapeutic processes and outcomes. Journal of Personality81(6), 606-616. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2012.00806.x

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Newton, T. L. (2001). Marriage and health: His and hers.  Psychological Bulletin, 127(4), 472.

Lehnart, J., Neyer, F. J., & Eccles, J. (2010). Long-term effects of social investment: The case of partnering in young adulthood. Journalof Personality, 78(2), 639–670.

Levenson, R. W., & Gottman, J. M. (1985). Physiological and affective predictors of change in relationship satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49(1), 85.

Robles, T. F., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2003). The physiology of marriage: Pathways to health. Physiology and Behavior, 79(3), 409–416.

Rodriguez, A. J., & Margolin, G. (2013). Wives’ and husbands’ cortisol reactivity to proximal and distal dimensions of couple conflict. Family Process, 52(3), 555–569.

Taylor, N. C., Seedall, R. B., Robinson, W. D., & Bradford, K. (2018). The systemic interaction of attachment on psychophysiological arousal in couple conflict. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy44(1), 46-60. doi:10.1111/jmft.12239