One of the most common patterns couples get into is the blame and defend pattern. This is a pattern where one person is sharing their perspective about a situation and their partner becomes defensive and then they counter-attack.
I set-up these kinds of exchanges in my session so I can spend time learning how they fight with each other. I need to learn their pattern so I can help them create a new pattern that will effectively deal with their future in a way that protects their marriage.
There are many patterns that couples can get into but, this one will illustrate the need to think differently and ask better questions.
What most people are unaware of and what I spend significant time teaching is how to hear what your partner is really saying because if the translation is wrong your subsequent behaviours will create more problems.
Look at this couple’s conflict and what I had to help them see.
It starts with his wife words to him…
Wife: “You said XYZ – I now can’t trust you, see this is who you really are!”
Husband: “No I didn’t you’re putting words in my mouth, but what about what you did?”
Wife: “You’re such a liar, see this is why I’m not safe with you”
Husband: “What are you talking about now, what do you mean safe? How dare you and what about what you’ve done!”
Wife: “I knew I shouldn’t have married you!”
The result: He ended up feeling flabbergasted at where she ended up and she just wanted to be on her own.
My mission was to help them understand
there was another way to understand
This is the type of exchange that makes both people feel awful about themselves their partner and the relationship.
Why would any couple think this is the way to deal with their problems? Looking at this logically anyone would call this pattern madness.
The problem couples are in is they don’t see what’s really going on and how to deal with it effectively – the key was to get them out of this pattern.
The problem is couples are not asking any questions as they engage or if they are and they keep practising this pattern they are not asking the right questions.
This means they are reactive and running destructive patterns blind to the damage they are creating.
Most people want to be happy and don’t relish the idea of constant fighting yet blindly they either have the same old argument or they argue about nothing.
The three critical questions are:
Q1. What are they both trying to achieve?
Q2. What are they not seeing?
Q3. What do they need to do differently?
When I look at this very common pattern what I see is very different from what the couples are seeing.
What looks like a ridiculous argument to most people is simply a misunderstanding of what they are both trying to achieve.
This is what they are blind to.
The problems are they both think they are having the same conversation – they are not.
In the illustration above
Wife said: “You said XYZ – I now can’t trust you, see this is who you really are!”
She had assumed he would hear her words and understand this was a cry for help, she hoped he would look after her, listen to her, love her and keep her safe.
In this situation the wife: Was calling on her partner to connect to her feelings because at that moment she was emotionally distressed and needed him to emotionally connect with her and reassure her.
But Husband responded with: “No I didn’t you’re putting words in my mouth, but what about what you did?”
Husband used his logic to translate her words totally missing the pain she was in. By missing her feelings and focusing on his need to defend himself, left her feeling more disconnected and abandoned.
This is why she escalated her message when she didn’t get what she needed: She tried to connect to him again with a strong message to wake him up to the pain she was in.
Wife then said: “You’re such a liar, see this is why I’m not safe with you”
She was not trying to solve the content of the argument she was trying to get him to connect to the pain she was in.
The problem she was not aware of was he would translate her words into him feeling she was attacking and criticising him again and again.
If he keeps experiencing this he knows he can never be successful or happy with a woman like that. This is what leads men to shut down, battle constantly, or leave her.
Unaware of how he is thinking she keeps prodding him to connect, unaware she is actually pushing him further away.
The husband was totally unaware of the pain she was in because his natural conditioning took him to defend himself if he is ever attacked – he could try logic but would watch her become more upset this would confuse him even more.
This is a translation error on his part: If he knew how to hear her words and connect to her pain rather than his own he would be in a position to help her rather than worry her more.
Do you see the challenge?
Both people are totally unaware of the other persons perspective and objective. They are both focused on themselves and what they need.
This is a recipe for more disaster.
You cannot be in a successful relationship if you don’t understand the root of what your partner is experiencing and why.
Your partner is nothing like you so you must learn how to hear what is really being said.
Your partner will not communicate or have the same needs as you do, so you need to understand the framework of understanding so you can build a successful connection.
Once couples understand how to influence each other in a way that connects them, the marriage will stop being a war zone and become a place where love and passion can grow.
In this illustration, this man simply wanted to stop the conflict so he and his wife were ok. He wanted to be able to influence her to stop fighting but he used his logic and his understanding of himself to help her.
All she wanted was to be loved because at that moment she felt disconnected to him, herself and she knew she couldn’t love him from that place – in this emotional place she would suffer.
This is a skill couples must understand because once a person knows they have to keep protecting themselves from their partner their love will die and permanent disconnect is not far away.
These are the types of skills couples are learning through the “Marriage Breakthrough Program”. The current climate has pushed clients to work with me over the phone and through video conferencing.
If you wish to apply to work with me to learn these divorce preventing life skills please click the link to apply Click here