Couples Counseling Articles

Arguments Are A BIG Source of Disconnection

Arguments Are A BIG Source of Disconnection

Are you tired of arguing and keeping score with your partner?

Do you often find yourself in a negative cycle of criticism and comparison? It might seem like every concern you raise is met with responses like:

  • Well, I feel the same way.
  • You do it too.
  • Yeah, but…you do this.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

Each conversation or sensitive topic seems to loop back to who’s right and who’s wrong, leaving you both feeling hurt and farther apart.

But have you ever wondered why you’re really arguing about these things?

Most often, the surface-level arguments mask our deeper emotions. We’re actually fighting for something we struggle to put into words; connection.

When we don’t have a safe way to express our pain around the disconnection we feel from our partner, we usually resort to poking and prodding to get their attention. Or sometimes, we’ll withdraw, hoping to avoid arguments and pain altogether.

What we truly long for is to be seen and heard. We want our partner to understand that we’re exhausted, lonely, hurting, and longing for the connection we once had.

Silently, we ask ourselves:

  • Am I even important to you?
  • Am I still a priority?
  • Do you still love me?
  • Will you be there for me when I need you?

In the busyness of our 21st century lives, relationships have become more challenging than ever and it’s easy to lose our way with our partner.

In our quest to reconnect, we might end up fighting about insignificant things when all we truly want is to reignite the love we once enjoyed.

Once we’ve slipped into that negative spin, it moves us further apart and we can’t seem to stop it.

Here are three tips and ideas for stepping out of the negative cycle with your partner using the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), the method we use here at Wellness:

  1. Take a moment to recognize and express your underlying emotions: Arguments are rarely about the situation itself. It’s the deeper emotions driving the arguments. If you take the time to reflect on your own emotions and needs before engaging in a conversation with your partner you’ll be better able to talk about what’s really going on for you. For example: Rather than complaining about your partner’s night out with friends, let them know “I feel lonely when we don’t spend quality time together,” or “I’m scared of losing our connection.” This kind of vulnerability is not easy but it creates an opening for you and your partner to have an intimate conversation.
  2. Practice listening and empathy: Learn how to listen well and offer empathetic responses even when you may not fully understand what you hear. This can be challenging. When your partner expresses their emotions and needs, make a conscious effort to really listen without interrupting or defending yourself. Demonstrate understanding by acknowledging and validating their feelings. For example, you can say, “I can see that you’re feeling hurt and longing for more connection. I may not understand exactly what’s going on but I get how important it is to you.” By validating our partner’s emotions we help to foster a sense of safety and connection.
  3. Work together to create shared goals: When intimate partners work together as a team to overcome their negative cycle they shift their focus away from blame toward understanding and finding solutions. Together partners can explore ways to meet each other’s emotional needs. Try setting aside dedicated time for quality moments where you can engage in even the smallest activity that promotes bonding and intimacy. This can be as simple as a shared cup of coffee in the morning before the kids get up. Or, debriefing at the end of the day for a few minutes…without TV, phones or laptops.

This is simple stuff…not easy to do…yet well worth the effort.

By working together towards a common vision, you can break your negative cycle and build a more loving and secure relationship dedicated to healing, growth and connection.