Relationships
May 19, 2022

Couple Conflict

I have been thinking about my understanding of couple conflict lately, not conflict involving abuse, rather the ongoing perpetual arguments and frustrations that can come to characterise a couple’s relationship.  At it’s basis I understand that it is one of three patterns of emotional functioning that have evolved in humans to manage the anxiety generated by relationships.  The other two patterns being the disproportionate adaption of one of the pair to preserve harmony and the third the focus of anxiety on a child.  As humans naturally we are a part of these patterns, some patterns more than others depending on our family history.  

Our involvement in these patterns is so automatic and natural that it is difficult for us to see.  In my thinking and reading about this I found myself reading Kathleen Smith’s blog and she has provided as conscience a summary as I could imagine.  

She points out that conflict is fuelled in part by as acting as if our functioning and mood depends on another person behaving differently.  That this is reflected in thinking things like:

I’ll be happy/calmer if they’ll just. . .

  • Text/call me more often.
  • Not tell me what to do.
  • Help out more around the house.
  • Stop criticising me.
  • Open up to me more.
  • Let me help.
  • Make more romantic gestures.
  • Apologize.
  • Calm Down.
  • Grow up.

I wonder if there is anyone who hasn’t thought on of these things or something like it?

If you are interested to understand more about couple conflict and the way through this. I offer you her blog as a starting point:

https://kathleensmith.net/2021/09/16/please-behave-better-so-i-can-calm-down/#more-5175

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