Psychotherapy Denver – 5 Simple Corrections For Relationship Conflict Patterns

Couples often ask me why they find themselves in conflict about the same issues time and again. The answer is not as simple as they would like. While the conflicts might serve to solve the issue in the moment, it is often the case that little has been resolved with respect to the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that drive the disputes. The arguments, they say, often bring about eventual resolve and peace, but come at great cost and energy. The take away here is that we often place band-aids on the wounds, but do little to treat the infections.

All too often, couples arrive in counseling exhausted, emotional and confused. They tell me that they most certainly love one another, and can’t understand why such hurtful conflicts arise. In therapy, then, I begin by helping the couple to understand the concept of “worldview” – the accumulation of experiences that inform how we operate in the present. Our worldview, then, defines how we see ourselves in relation to our partner and our other social environments, thereby influencing how we think, feel and behave in those contexts. While couples begin by having a more level perspective with respect to the other, problematic patterns might materialize over time, thereby clouding the former feelings of compassion and understanding. By the time the couple arrives in treatment, it is necessary to make clear the unhealthy patterns, and insert corrections into their everyday lives, so that they can discover connection and healthy perspective again.

I have found that there are commonly 5 corrections that couples must make in order to restore a sense of peace to conflicted relationships. Once these corrections are fully implemented, the couple will be able to connect with one another again, even in disagreement, without expending large amounts of emotional energy.

1) Focus on yourself.

One of the biggest problems couples face is the belief that the other person must change in order for the relationship to improve. I begin treatment with couples focusing on the individual within the context of the relationship. We must begin by squashing the oft-secret feeling that the other must change this or that. The couple must accept that one does not have the power to change another. The idea here is that only “I have the ability to change myself within the context of this relationship.” Each individual in counseling must be asking what he or she must change to help the relationship. Once this is established, we can move onto the second correction.

2) Suspend Judgment.

The book, The High Conflict Couple by Alan Fruzzetti, PH.D, touches on the topic of the harmful effects of judgment in relationships. Secondary emotions often fuel judgments. A typical primary emotion would include disappointment when your partner doesn’t come through on a promise. The secondary emotion, the one that includes judgment, would be, “what a jerk! He’s always doing this.” Or, another secondary emotion would be, “Why am I not important enough for him to follow through?”

3) Listen, understand and validate.

When a potentially volatile topic is at hand, it is helpful for couples to maintain this very basic way of communicating. Listening, understanding and validating your partner means that you are hearing your partner, respecting his/her opinion, and expressing a desire to find an equitable solution. It does not mean that you are agreeing, if you do not. It simply means that you are considering the other persons perspective. A rule of thumb for this correction is to listen intently, so that you can accurately paraphrase your partner’s concern.

4) Understand how you feel.

Very often, couples become entrenched in volatile patterns simply because one of them is unaware of how he/she feels in that moment, or about the topic. From here, the interaction lacks accuracy and the result can be exhausting and is likely to create frustration for both people. Each person must accurately convey his/her feelings to avoid conflict. Feel free to take 5 minutes to gain this self-awareness prior to a conversation. I often instruct taking this time in front of the mirror, in the bathroom.

5) Be aware of your partner.

Observe and notice when your partner is agitated and adjust accordingly with effective behavior and statements. Provide empathic or compassionate words, rather than snap-judgments, such as “What wrong with you?” or “Are you in a bad mood?”

Article Source : Psychotherapy Denver – 5 Simple Corrections For Relationship Conflict Patterns : ArticleBase

Patrick T. Cole
If you are looking for help with relationship conflicts or seeking Psychotherapy in Denver then please visit

One Response to “Psychotherapy Denver – 5 Simple Corrections For Relationship Conflict Patterns”

  • i was starting to believe that i would possibly be the sole man whom cared about this, at the least now i discover im not weird 🙂 i will make it a point to look at a few various other posts when i get some caffeine in me, it can be very hard to read without having my coffee, I was really late last evening playing zynga poker and after polishing off a few brewskies i finished up losing all my facebook poker chips cheers 🙂

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