Lawyers in a Courtroom: Go from Fighting and Arguing to Resolving Conflict in Couples Counseling
A communication approach that many couples engage in when experiencing conflict is what I like to call “Lawyers in a Courtroom.” One person presents her case, complete with a list of the partner’s transgressions to prove that she is right and her partner is wrong. The partner, in turn, compiles his rebuttals and responds with a ledger of her wrongdoings. There is typically a great deal of verbal volleying with very little listening. By the end, both parties feel hurt and angry and even more entrenched in original viewpoints.
This approach might work if there is a judge or a jury who ultimately decides who “wins” and each party never has to see each other again. The thing about committed relationships is, you still have to live with your partner. Or at least continue to interact with them. So even if you are able to prove to your partner that she is “wrong” and you are “right,” how loved do you think she feels? How respected? How understood? If she is left feeling devalued and resentful, what have you really won?
The good news is there are some simple changes a couple can make in the way they handle disagreements. By handling them in a different way, conflicts can go from being painful and alienating to facilitating closeness and intimacy.
The husband of one of my couple-clients said at the end of our work together, “I didn’t want to start marriage therapy because I thought I would have to change who I was as a person. What I found was that you gave us tools that changed our whole relationship for the better.”
If you are interested in learning a new way of handling disagreements with your partner, please contact me to schedule a couples counseling session at 706-425-8900 ext 709 or [email protected].