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I believe we’re going to find that respect and affection are essential to all relationships working and contempt destroys them. John M. Gottman
All couples have a common conflict dance, even if they take to the dance floor only occasionally. This is because we can all have our buttons pushed sooner or later, and the way we manage this and the way our partner interacts with us sets up a dynamic which Emotionally Focused Therapists call The Cycle.
Have a look at the options below to see if any of these are familiar to you. Possibly your dance is not quite any of these but similar to one of them. Detecting, understanding and then stopping The Cycle is the first goal of therapy and this book.Check below to see if any of the conflict patterns described here are similar to your own. Detecting your Cycle is an essential first step to bringing love back into your relationship, and putting the ego battles to bed.
“We don’t want to rock the boat.”
“We simply can’t stop arguing about who is right”
“It’s not me, it’s you …”
1. This couple are desperate to be heard, but seem to have few skills by which to hear the other.
2. There tends to be a high level of defensiveness from both parties. Although affection to some degree may still be present.
3. Blame, accusation, fault-finding, often mutual, creates distance here, because each has learned to prioritize self-protection.
4. The way to take control of this situation is to make your partner look bad. So each points to the ‘bad guy’ in the other.
5. Commonly the anxious insecure person (usually the woman) has put up the shutters and becomes avoidant soon after conflict begins.
6. The avoidant partner may push being right, but will back off when s/he fails to engage his/her partner.
7. I believe that Sue Johnson would call this the Freeze and Flee pattern. Both partners eventually withdraw exhausted at the stalemate this hurtful pattern creates. One or both put their emotions and associated needs in the freezer.
8. The result is a couple who have backed away from the wounding that connection brings, and so they close down to each other, sometimes for long periods.
“We can fight really hot and dirty.”
“We shuffle back and forth but rarely meet up..”