Better Relationships

Negative Emotions Offer Opportunities for Connection

Negative Emotions Offer Opportunities for Connection

negative emotions

When I work with couples, it’s not uncommon for one partner to say, “I can’t handle my partner’s anger,” or “Her crying overwhelms me, I don’t know what to do.”

The other partner expresses, “He never listens to me,” or “She never cares about my life.”

The problem here is that an emotionally dismissive response blocks emotional connection, and over time, erodes trust, the foundation of a happy and positive relationship.… Continue reading Here

War or Love: Flaws of The Human Brain in Relationship Conflict

War or Love: Flaws of The Human Brain in Relationship Conflict

Your brain on love

Stan Tatkin, PsyD proposes that the human brain is built for survival first and love second. This means we are wired for war more so than we are wired for love.

Reactive ConversationMature Dialogue
Chris: I get pissed off because you’re never listening to me.
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Chronic Stonewalling Imprisons a Relationship

Chronic Stonewalling Imprisons a Relationship

Stonewalling
Have you ever watched a child try to get attention from their mom or dad?
“Pay attention to me.”
“Look at me.”
“Mommy, daddy, watch me.”

But what happens if the child’s attachment figure is unavailable and unresponsive? The child will experience distress.… Continue reading Here

Defensiveness Doesn’t Protect a Relationship

Defensiveness Doesn’t Protect a Relationship

defensiveness
Being defensive blocks connection, compassion, and isolates you from your partner. Instead of focusing on we-ness, a defensive person focuses on me-ness. Defensiveness is one of the most dangerous signs of toxic fighting because it creates never-ending cycles of negativity.… Continue reading Here

Stopping the Pursue-Withdraw Pattern: An Interview with Scott R. Woolley, Ph.D.

Stopping the Pursue-Withdraw Pattern: An Interview with Scott R. Woolley, Ph.D.

pursue-withdrawThe pursue-withdraw pattern is an extremely common cause of divorce. If left unresolved, it will continue into a second marriage and subsequent intimate relationships. As Dr. Gottman explains in Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, “This classical marital impasse is all too common—a wife seeking emotional connection from a withdrawn husband.”

How do couples fall into a pursue-withdraw pattern, and why are men usually the ones that withdraw?… Continue reading Here

The Habit of Criticism is Poisonous to Any Relationship

The Habit of Criticism is Poisonous to Any Relationship

criticism No one wants to stay in a relationship that makes them feel more judged than admired. Yet, it’s too common for couples to see the other person as the problem.

And since the other partner is the problem, the only solution is for them to change…right?… Continue reading Here

Stop Trying to Fix Your Partner’s Feelings, Connect with Them Instead

Stop Trying to Fix Your Partner’s Feelings, Connect with Them Instead

feelings

One of our deepest needs as humans is to feel understood, and true understanding is not possible without empathy. As psychologist Carl Rogers put it, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!”

Think back to a time when you were listened to and really felt heard.… Continue reading Here

How to Listen Without Getting Defensive in Relationship Conflict

How to Listen Without Getting Defensive in Relationship Conflict

defensive

Understanding your partner requires the capacity to listen. Really listen. Couples are advised to hear each other’s complaints without feeling attacked, and as great as this sounds, it’s often unrealistic.

When something you said (or didn’t say) hurts your partner’s feelings, there’s a strong impulse to interrupt with, “That wasn’t my intention.… Continue reading Here

Understanding Must Precede Advice in Relationship Conflict

Understanding Must Precede Advice in Relationship Conflict

understanding

Mike finds his wife’s “explosion” of anger “unbearable.” When she gets angry, he tries to neutralize or fix her feelings. He often tries to problem solve before understanding why Stacey is upset. This makes Stacey feel dumb for experiencing and expressing her innate feelings.… Continue reading Here