Couples Therapy, conflict resolutionRelax Your Definitions of the Power Struggle

When we are involved in a relationship conflict we often resort to all-or-nothing thinking, and it is difficult to think outside of this box – “I am right and my partner is wrong.” The more you insist on your point of view, the more your partner defends his or her position. The two opposing ways of thinking become entrenched. It is helpful to defuse the situation by trying to develop empathy for your partner’s point of view and by relaxing the sense of urgency you have about your own views.

The following thoughts can help to increase the flexibility of your thinking: “My partner is just being herself. She means no harm. She’s trying to do her best. I need to appreciate her just the way she is. I need to stop trying to change her or to convince her that I am right.” When you try to get your partner to see things the way you do, you are actually searching for love and closeness. You want complete support, a partner who can affirm your way of thinking.

Understand, though, that this is exactly what your partner is searching for too. Try to empathize with your partner’s view, and this can open the door to the closeness you want. You may feel an urgency or anxiety about asserting your own view. You don’t have to abandon your views, but you can work on the anxiety you feel about affirming your views.

It helps to take a live-and-let-live approach to your struggle. Relax – and trust that things will work out well. And they often do.

A qualified couples therapist, marriage counselor, or relationship therapist can help you to develop effective relationship skills.

Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT