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Do you find yourself having the same old fight with your partner? Are there several topics that keep coming up versus just one? Maybe you even catch yourself saying, are we fighting about this again!
THREE TYPES OF FIGHTS
I am fascinated by the topic of communication. Recently I came across a short video by Esther Perel, a psycho therapist I follow out of New York. Over her 30 years of studying human relationships in her office, her books and videos are now helping many learn how to deal with infidelity but also how to be better partners.
In this particular video she spoke about Three Types of Relationship Fights. She shared observations from her teacher Howard Markman about what those three reasons usually are:
- Fighting for power and control. Who gets to make the decisions.
- Fighting about care and closeness. Can I trust you? Do you have my back?
- Fighting over respect and recognition. Do you value me?
Watching the seven minute video from Esther, more than once, helped to have this perspective sink in. Indeed, my own fights, if honest with myself, at times were about all three of these things.
Think about the last fight you had with your spouse. Did they not say thank you for the job you agreed to take on to help make something easier for them? (Respect & recognition) When you needed them to show up for you at some event or gathering were they extremely late for even forgot? (Care and closeness) Or was the last fight about a big decision in the relationship that you felt you didn’t get enough input or a say on? (Power and control)
When working with a client I often turn the proverbial mirror towards themselves versus always focusing outward on what their significant other isn’t doing right. Esther is essentially asking us to do the same thing. Stop and think about what perspective you are coming from before you let your frustration or anger come out. Is it one of these three? Is it perhaps all three? What truly is the underlying issue with your frustration?
Victor Frankl is quoted as saying, “ Between the trigger and the response is a space…. In THAT space is our power to choose our response. In our response, lies our growth and our freedom. “
Taking that space or pause to make a conscious choice is a communication tool that is invaluable to have in your communication toolbox. When you take that pause, ask yourself what of these three topics am I angry about? Once you know that how can you change what you say or ask for next and begin to stop having the same old fight with your partner.
Working on being a better communicator is a constant practice. Working with a a coach gives you a place to reflect, recalibrate and refuel which will result in greater success in your new way of communicating and connecting.
As Esther says, “the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.”