How To Transform Conflict Into Closeness

Recently, in between one of our weekly meetings, a high-conflict couple I am working with emailed me several pages of intense communications they had with one another.  Ostensibly, this was to highlight how they slid back into their typical primitive, reptile-like fighting style.  But, what each one really wanted me to do was to identify what was wrong with their partner.

They have been seeing me long enough to know I believe that to improve a relationship each person must be willing to closely examine their own behavior, emotions and defensive ways. (I don’t blame them for trying.)

What struck me in this couples’ warlike communications was the way they each used defensiveness to protect themselves.  Defacing the other allowed them to feel morally superior and justified in their attacks, which only created emotional barriers.

However, to their credit and despite sometimes seeing one another as adversaries in a power struggle, their overriding goal is to put an end to their destructive fights and evolve toward a more loving relationship.

Simple Lessons For Effective Communication

If you have recently ended a relationship and are about to begin a new one, or if you are currently struggling with your partner, please consider the following powerful communication messages that I reminded my couple of. 

  • Feeling safe with your partner means freedom from being insulted, ignored, rejected, unloved, or in any way diminished.
  • Nothing can be solved unless you listen to your partner and create a feeling of safety.
  • Talk about the problem like you are a team. If you don’t communicate in some way that you have heard each other and considered their concerns, there will be no cooperation.
  • Hurting your partner is hurting yourself (As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”)
  • Dirty fighting includes: (How many apply to you?)
    • Personal insults
    • Bringing up history to prove a point
    • One-upping your partner
    • Threatening to leave or divorce
    • Lying / half-truths

How To Stop Making Things Worse

In any love relationship, safety is essential.  Without a sense of safety, people are likely to attack each other.  Why?  Because the minute one’s sense of well-being is threatened they will need to protect themselves by attacking back.

If two people can’t trust each other to not inflict harm on their well-being, it’s impossible to work on their relationship.


It is my sincere hope that all information on my website provides you with content that inspires you to enhance your relationships. These materials are not intended to be a substitute for my counseling services. If you are ready to make that leap, please click here to set up a complimentary consultation.


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