17 Oct

The title of this article is a common theme encountered when working with couples who enter couples therapy. Both partners maintain their position that they each handle conflict in reaction to the others inappropriate style of communication.  Whether that is yelling because the other won’t engage or avoiding because the other is yelling  They commonly come into therapy hoping that I can fix the person with the problem. Occasionally, one of the partners is more the culprit, yet, most of the time, they play their respective roles.

Once I understand the specific dynamics of the relationship in my couples therapy research, It’s clear to see that the screamer is perceived to be on the attack when giving their opinion about things that they disagree on. Although it’s commonly easy to comprehend why the screamer is so upset, yelling will prevent their partner from hearing them. This pattern confirms the less verbal partner’s belief that it’s not safe to speak so they resume their avoidant style of communication.  This obviously infuriates the screamer and validates their position that they’re with someone who won’t talk to them. This cycle causes great pain for both partners.

To change this dynamic each partner has to focus on where they’re responsible for the problem. The avoidant person has to fight through the screamers frustration and find a voice for themselves, while the screamer has to understand that they will never be heard as long as they are yelling and learn to communicate in a calmer manner.  The way to obtain this goal is to work at it consistently and remain committed to the change. Remember change is incremental and nothing will be accomplished overnight. Things are also likely to regress at times so don’t give up.  I know this is easier said than done. Therefore, partners need to have time to connect outside of this work. During their connection time remind each other that you want things to be better and you are willing to work for. Marriage is hard work, but it can payoff if you put in the time.  Let my couples therapy experience help you, call for a free consultation.






photo credit: taylormackenzie Red lips and rosy cheeks via photopin (license)