Dan Wile suggests couples typically use three choices of action when faced with relational conflict:
- Attack and Defend a most hurtful way of handling things. This is where one party lashes out criticising their significant others character by finding fault and inadequacy and attacking them personally. This drives their mate away. When a person feels attacked they get defensive which also further distances and harms the relationship.
- Avoid or Deny. This is when you ignore or minimise your unhappy feelings about the issue at hand. Self talk might sound like “It’s stupid to feel this way,” or “I just won’t think about it (say anything, ignore it or pretend it’s ok) and maybe it will go away.” “It’s no big deal.” This sort of downplaying really disheartens the partnership. When the issue continues it gets harder to maintain this avoidance.
- Self–Disclose and Connect. You can talk about how you feel about the issue and work on common understanding – this doesn’t mean you have to agree. You may not find the perfect solution or compromise but you have allowed for emotional connection and intimacy building.
Is there a particular style you identify yourself as using from the list? Be honest now. Here is your challenge – move beyond attack and defend, avoid and deny and use the only workable option self disclose and connect.
This will require courage and self-confrontation.
Read on for suggestions as to how to start to rebuild the intimacy with sharing yourself and reconnecting here: Continue reading The Three Choices in Relationship Distress – Which will you choose?