ouples counseling tips

Anatomy of an Argument: Step 3 - Find the Understandable Part

In our series about the anatomy of an argument, we have discussed focusing on your own reactions and avoiding a judgmental attitude. Here is step three:

Finding the understandable part of your partner’s argument can be difficult, especially when you are entrenched in your position.  ‘Find the understandable part’ does not mean agreeing with their view or accepting it as the right one.  It simply means that each of you have legitimate reason for your beliefs.  

Here’s a little example.  My husband and I were having a discussion over a new car I was about to lease.  I can’t even remember the whole fight, and it was a doozy, but the part that I will never forget it this:  at the end of the argument he revealed that he had felt shamed over a certain action I had taken.  The action was telling his mom something I had promised not to but I thought it was so insignificant that I totally forgot, it was an accident.  The argument ended as soon as I understood what had happened for him.  

Don’t let yourself dig your heels in so deep that you refuse to acknowledge the other’s experience.  This will get you nowhere.  You need to find reasons for their actions and beliefs and they need to do the same for you.  This is a 50/50 deal on both sides.  

Consider these scenarios:

  • A terrible day at work, so she comes home already upset
  • Not all pertinent information was given so details are left out
  • One person thinks a word has one meaning and the other thinks something completely different
  • His mind went to the worst case scenario inventing things you never meant or said
  • The issue is likely to be more important to one of you - sometimes it’s nice to give in if you don’t      care that much
  • Our priorities often differ, so try to keep in mind what is important to one won’t be so important to the other
  • Perhaps one of you had felt belittled or dismissed recently

Next time an argument with your partner arises, do your very best to find the understandable part.  Get out of your own way and really look at their point of view and ask yourself if they are truly wrong.  If you loosen up on these issues, your partner is likely to do the same!  Feel free to respond with situations of your own and what you did to work through them with Step 3 in mind!

Please call and make an appointment for couples counseling or couples counseling for one. We look forward to teaching you how to fight fair!

ARE WE FIXABLE or ARE WE F#%&ED???? – 4 things to remember!

In couples counseling, I hear these phrase frequently.

“Can you fix us?”

“Have you seen worse than us?”

“How F#%&ED are we?!?”

Here are 4 things to remember!

  • Nothing is broken.  Ok, yes you have lost trust, you have been unreasonable, etc…  But nobody is broken.  You have reached a new level in your relationship and we need to adjust the sails. This is about compromise, being honest with yourself and your partner, and making your wants and needs overt.  Expecting your partner to be psychic and figure out your needs isn’t going to happen.

  • Do you want to improve things or do you want to stay in power in your relationship? Often, when one partner has been in control and then they relinquish that stance by trying to be more compassionate/understanding/friendly, the other flies in for the coup.  We think this is a great position to occupy, but really it’s the opposite.  When you decide to take over as Captain instead of Teammate, you are making a decision to stay in turmoil.  I totally understand when you have felt so beneath somebody for so long why you would take on the power position, however, the truth is that it just doesn’t serve you.

  • You are only as F#%&ED as you think and act. Couples in my practice who jump in with both feet, who do the work and follow the path set in front of them make huge strides.  Remember that it took you a long time to get to where you are, you need time to back out of that space and make room for a new and improved relationship.  You need very specific tools to rebuild what has been shaken.

  • Are you committed to doing YOUR part to change the way YOU react and engage? If you are able to focus on how you react and engage, you will be far more successful in your relationship compared to others who wait for their partners to change.  You know the saying “be the change you want to see in the world”?  The same holds true in your relationship.

If any of this rings a bell and you would like to make changes or improvements in your relationship, please get in touch.  Rebuilding your relationship – believe it or not – doesn’t have to be a nightmare.  I make a point of bringing levity into sessions, you don’t have to cry your way into happiness. Call today to set up a couples counseling appointment in Denver!

How Homework in Couples Counseling Helps Clients Connect

“Your scars are beautiful”

I have couples do weekly homework assignments.  They don’t take long and they are fun.  I explain to couples that just like going to the gym to build up biceps, reconnection doesn’t happen after one visit.  To build the emotional muscles in your brain, you need to exercise them consistently.  Here’s one of the coolest / loveliest / most darling responses to one of the questions asked that I have ever heard.

The statement to reply to is… “I am physically attracted to my partner.  Name one physical attribute you are attracted to.”

He said “I am attracted to so many things about you.  But the things I am most attracted to are your scars.  Your scars are beautiful.  I know what each of them means, I know what how each of them happened.”  These scars – some are small, some are pretty visible – like the one where the tracheotomy was in her neck – have a very intense story behind them.  What could be painful and awkward for her became powerful and intensely meaningful for each of them.  It’s a connection that only they have.

The smallest questions lead to profound answers neither one could ever guess would actually be spoken or written.  Couples therapy isn’t just about clearing the current crisis, it’s about reaching down deep to those astonishing and lovely insights.

I haven’t met a couple yet where AWESOME answers weren’t a part of the process.  If you or your spouse / partner want to uncover some of these touching insights, please get in touch with me and let’s get to work.  And yes, even my really angry couples have those moments where the walls begin to come down after going through these exercises.  EVERYBODY has hope and potential.

At Colorado Couples and Family Therapy, we have use many different resources and couples counseling techniques to aid you in your therapy journey. We are looking forward to working with you! Contact us today.