Are you feeling trapped in a cycle of negativity with you and your partner getting stuck in the same old fights. You know the ones – where you experience the loop like a noose tightening around your throat and all you can think is “here we go again”… another argument, but can’t think what to do. Well let me help you. First take a big breath and take a time out. Stop and use it.
This can be a chance for change.
At this stage you are at a choice point. Decide to act in the old routine, with typically the same dance steps.
You know how that pans out right? I’d guess you can cake walk the outcome with your eyes closed. Play with me do it on your own now. Not great huh?
Or you can choose a new move.
Here’s an option for variety, which I call taking a turn down memory lane. It involves purposeful distraction. Parent’s are the master of directing children’s attention to away from distress – simply get them to focus on something else and look at you. New stimulation, different mood equals peace for you, sigh of relief. You remind them of the fun time they had playing soccer or whatever it was they enjoy doing.
I was coaching a husband the other day. He wanted to break out of the old habits of relating to his wife. So I suggested my distraction technique, which is really using Resource Therapy’s powerful methods for change. It’s so simple and yet effective.
I call it –Take a turn down into Memory Lane.
This is where it’s time to stroll back in history. Where you get to go to those earlier days in dating relationship, remember we used to call in courting. The idea is to foster a reconnection with your past successes – as The Cars sang “Let the good times roll.”
You are going for the treasure pot of gold. It’s not at the end of the rainbow but at the beginning of your partnership.
Actually it’s any time you felt warm, loved, connected and light being in each others presence. Where you are delighted and so are they. The happy relaxed carefree times. Not suprising it’s often pre-kids!
You reminisce on the first holiday, kiss, date, your proposal or walking down the aisle staring with hope and joy into each others eyes. Whatever the time was where you were really into each other, feeling connected and cared for. Those love drugs where pumping. We want to bring this back into sharp focus.
They don’t call it re-membering for nothing!
Here you are bringing out your partner’s Loving Resource state, the part of their personality which enjoys you and their choice of spouse. And you are also bringing forth the same part which found them cute and fun to be with.
The way you do this is to really paint the picture, describe the time of day, where you were, the surroundings, the sounds, the sensations, images and warm emotions. Keep doing this until your spouse joins in and you see the light in their eyes, the softness in their voice and gentleness in their features. Play with it. Get some serious fun happening.
It’s so simple.
The only proviso is it must only be happy times with nothing negative attached. Now if things have been rough recently you may need to be tenacious and keep reaching.
All I need to do with Chris is say remember what fun we had Bali? What great meals we had there. Bali is where we took our first overseas holiday and it was magical, it still is a favourite destination.
Then I say how good was our first night’s dinner at the Cafe Wayan in Ubud?
What did you have again? You see Chris enjoys his food and if I get him talking about something delicious I can almost see him drool. His eyes get a dreamy look – I can see he is back there in the warm glades, hearing the tinkle of the music.
Having this conversation about our shared joy makes us closer and brings out the loving parts of us. It sets us up for a great night.
So do yourself a favour and take a walk down memory lane today. And you needn’t wait to use it to staunch an argument. Practice it prior. Use it any time you want to feel connected and inspire love. with your partner.
Please tell me your thoughts on this technique and even better how it went for you. Love to hear your experiences, so please share.
I love psychology especially when it explains for us what is inexplicable. In a lot of readers comments there is a coomon thread of why do I behave like this toward my partner. I push him away one minute and then when he leaves I feel like I am going to die!
As you can hear it is a very young part responding to the threat of them leaving. This younger self can feel abandoned, paralyzed and hopeless.
John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth who gave us Attachment theory which are formed in childhood with our caretakers. This attachment helps us to survive as infants. We are totally dependent on others for life. We develop our ways of connection – our attachment style in relation to the way our parents or those responsible for our care were available to us.
There are four types of attachment –
1. Secure: A child with this type of attachment will feel easily soothed and safe when with their main caregiver. If they are distressed, they will turn towards their caregiver, or seek them out in some way. This attachment is formed when a child knows they can count on their caregiver to be there for them when they cry, soothe them, and care for them. They will use this secure attachment as a safe base from which they can explore all that’s around them.
2. Insecure-Avoidant: Children do not attach to their caregiver because they don’t feel they can rely on them. This usually means that their primary caregiver either hasn’t been there for them when they needed it or has been rejecting or dismissive of their needs altogether. When a child is in distress and has this type of attachment they will not seek contact with their primary attachment figure.
3. Insecure Ambivalent: Children with this type of attachment will be clingy and needy of their caregiver, but when the caregiver comes to their aid they are rejecting of them and not easily soothed.
4. Disorganized: Children with this type of attachment will show a confusing mix of attachment behaviors and may even appear to be confused or disoriented. They believe that this attachment style is caused by inconsistency from their caregivers. Meaning that a parent may be soothing and helpful, but also fear-inducing and hurtful.
Below is a very famous example of what a baby will do to make their care giver respond. It’s so amazing.
Can you guess the number one presenting problem couples have when they come in to see me? Yes you’d be right if you’ve said it is communication. Complaints begin with s/He doesn’t communicate, or s/he never listens are catch cries repeated in my office.
Accusations fly and a load of words move between the spouses like arrows. The discouraging thing is it’s usually totally negative. Making it virtually impossible to stay connected and positive.
When we feel attacked and criticized we usually get defensive, worn down and ultimately one or both withdraw, shutting down in sheer frustration.
Sound familiar? Perhaps you can see how this applies to your arguments and attempts to talk on the hot topics – parenting, finance, the in-laws the list goes on.
Now it’s not that they can’t talk, the truth is they can’t communicate effectively. When I listen it becomes clear key skills are missing. Communication is often misunderstood, especially in partnerships. That’s why couple coaching works.
Learning the techniques to communicate clearly will allow you to find freedom, joy, love and genuine connection. Disconnection is the second major complaint couples have.
When you communicate clearly you create:
Clarity and perspective
Better outcomes for all
Who doesn’t what these life-enhancing benefits?
Where Couples go Wrong.
If you have ever found yourself in the equivalent of a communication traffic jam, then you will recognise the roadblocks. Once you realise and release these barriers, next time when you see the signs you can take a different route entirely. You are in the drivers seat!
Missing the message
Lack of politeness
As I promised here are 8 Potently Powerful Communication Skills
1 Create Connection.
Before we even start to have a discussion we need to ensure we are ‘with’ the person. This means getting in synch with them. In therapy speak we call this joining. What we want to do is build rapport.
Communication experts believe the majority of the message being both sent and received is nonverbal. Words only account for a lousy 7% of communication is the oft-stated figure.
We have amazing things inside called mirror neurons, which, allow us to understand and feel what other people are going through.
That’s why when you watch those kids on TV bouncing off the see saw hard your body winces and you go ouch! And possibly laugh.
Mirror neurons give us this capacity for social synchrony, promoting bonding and empathy in our relationships. Scientists have determined analytical thought destroys and creates misunderstanding. Stop any analysis paralysis.
How do I create connection?
Simple you copy and match your mate’s body language as your chatting to them. It’s human nature we like others like us. Pay attention to your partner’s gestures, placement, and tone of voice.
If they tilt their head to one side you match this. If they are speaking slowly, so do you. When then breathe you breathe with them. They have crossed legs you might cross yours at the ankle. The key is to do it subtly.
Next time you are with someone and having fun, you will most likely find yourself doing this automatically. It is an unconscious process. So get back into synch with your partner today.
2 Forget Mind Reading. Become a Body Reader.
It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Too many partners are busy reading their significant others mind and totally missing vital information.
You won’t be surprised to hear body speak is a vital component. Don’t worry you don’t need to be an Allan Pease body language expert to decode your partners message.
What you do need is an idea of what their body is signalling to you. Is there a sign of relaxation and ease or discomfort?
Signs of comfort and ease are leaning towards, physically coming closer, twinkling eyes, turning to face you, a head tilt, a pat of the hand, a smile and touch.
Signs of discomfort appear as head or neck touching or rubbing, head turning away, arms crossing, body angle or feet turning away and poor eye contact or looking away.
What you want to do is note where the person’s general comfort levels are. High comfort gives you a green light to keep going and low comfort you may need to back off a bit.
For example I am in connection with my partner and I notice he goes rigid and starts smoothing his hair with his hand frequently, his face looks taut. I know that he is in discomfort and most likely not able to hear things clearly. So I soften and go back to creating connection.
3 Own It.
They best way to own your communication I know is with the tried and true “I Statement.”
An I statement is where you describe your experience and feelings on something. It is the gold standard in assertive communication.
If it goes something like: Hi honey did you take the garbage out (you know they didn’t as you can see the overflow out of the corner of your eye). They say Sorry I forgot. I’ll do it, why do you have to keep asking? Don’t you trust me? You respond you take forever to do it.”
You get the picture and I am sure you know where this one goes off into the ditch in your own life experience.
When you use a you statement which is sadly often followed with a never, always don’t, it will come across as an accusation. No one likes to be accused. Naturally they go into defense mode. These are part of what John Gottman refers to as the four Horseman of the Apocalypse and good predictors of divorce in communication patterns.
Read this statement and see what is wrong with it. “ I feel/think that you….” Warning this is not an I address of usefulness. The You overtake the I.
Bad news right? So the antidote is the “I Statement.”
An “I” offers an objective opinion; it opens space and gets your message across. Try taking a true I statement personally. Use this vital skill today in all your relationships and interactions. Watch the change.
4 Be Open.
This should really be at the top of my list, please make it your priority.
When you are vulnerable and open to others real magic happens. People will feel safe and will be open towards you. True vulnerability builds trust and strengthens bonds while deepening connection. See why it’s a priority? This will give you increased joy and security in all your relationships. Vulnerability is the cornerstone of intimacy.
When we feel safe we are like the flower opening to the sun, the bird spreading her wings to soar and the dolphin dancing in the waves.
Vulnerability advocate and researcher Brené Brown has improved our knowledge tremendously. I recommend her books and you will find these in the Book Resource section.
If you want your partner to be open and share their vulnerabilities you are going to have to take the lead and be the first to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability and gentle honesty can provide you with a powerful relationship, now who doesn’t want that? Let’s have a go at increasing your joy and stimulating satisfaction.
Yes the next thing you need to do is to shut up. Finding silence helps you listen intently to understand.
Quietness is a true gift for your spouse and you. This gift will create a deeper soulful relationship.
The stillness of attending silence offers you the opportunity to be a better listener. It is an active process of being soft and taking things in without interpretation or reaction.
Creating a silent space for others encourages them to talk more. (Yes I can hear some people cheering at this. Talkers, get ready to listen more.)
Interruption and its accomplice inner rebuttal (thinking of what you are going to say, how wrong they are in your mind while the other is speaking) are the murderers of silence. These shut down and diminish relationships.
True silence gently allows your significant other an invitation to help you both learn more about each other and the situation. Offering you real growth potential. Sit in attended silence more.
While respect is not so much a skill as an attitude. It says to your loved one you matter to me. I will show up in this discussion. If you wish to be an influential parent, a thoughtful partner or caring friend this outlook is the key to successful interactions. It all starts with you.
Respect is shown is a light tone of voice, it says I am here ready to hear you. I care about you, your issues matter to me and I want to help you.
Opponents to Respect are:
Thinking of your answer
Asking too many questions
Talking over another person
Intimidation – yelling, aggression or worse still throwing property or making threats
Bringing out all the issues at once
Dredging up the past resentments– dirty fighting
So as Aretha Franklin say show a little Respect! Forget any interjection, and relax. This alone will go a long way to resolving your issues and makes for a safe landing zone.
7 Reflect for Clarity.
In therapy we us a term called reflection, or mirroring. Basically this is where you paraphrase the other person’s comments back to them. It’s an integral part of a listening exercise using called Imago dialogue many couple therapists employ.
You let your partner speak and feedback what you have heard. This allows both you and them to really feel heard and attended too.
The real power here is will provide clear communication. No longer will you misinterpret your mate. You will check in with them. They will even help you if you have missed something.
When you partner has said their piece you paraphrase back to them. “So what I hearing you saying is… is a good starter or From what you said I heard … did I get that?
Practice, practice and then some more practice. Here you do not add anything in this process is for creating connection.
8 Add in Empathy to the Mix.
After you have reflected for clarity you can add the most potent communication enhancer empathy to your skills.
This is where you have a guess at what the other person is feeling on an emotional front. Connecting with a partner on a emotional basis will advance your relationship to a new level of fulfillment. Empathy is the healing influence. It is also the cornerstone of emotional intelligence.
So work at developing this and the above core skills to advance your relationships and connections to a higher level today. Challenge yourself to take these words off the blog and into your life, have fun!
Please let us know in the comments below what have been your bugbears and what has made a difference. Perhaps you have a suggestion you would like us to help you further with in your communication quandaries or would like to share your successes – we would love to read about them.
I’ve posted a 4-part video series explaining my take on The Last Resort Technique (LRT) which is the most popular page on this website. See that page for a detailed breakdown of LRT.
Questions and comments are welcome either in YouTube comments section or in the comments on the page dedicated to The Last Resort Technique. Please like and subscribe on YouTube to help others find this information.
1:36 mins part 1 of 4
Michele Weiner-Davis The Last Resort Technique is also known as LRT or “The 180”. It comes from her amazing book The Divorce Remedy.
I’d appreciate it if you wish to purchase this worthy book, you click on the link to go directly to Amazon. This is an affiliate link through which I make a small commission if you buy via the link to offset the cost of running this website. You don’t have to use the link, you can search for “The Divorce Remedy” and buy it without the affiliate link.
In second video we get into the details of
Step 1 – Stop Chasing
4:17 minutes – part 2 of 4
Step 2 – Get a Life
9:38 mins – part 3 of 4
Step 3 – Wait and Watch
8:05 minutes part 4 of 4
Again, please like and subscribe on YouTube to help others find this information. A tweet or a share on social media would also benefit others.
We are super excited – Marriage Works is expanding with the talents of Rachele Davis coming on board. She starts 28th July so hurry to book as she has limited availabity and we certainly don’t want you to miss out. Rachele is seeing Individuals only at this stage.
Rachele has a wide variety of experience working with clients in her career already. We feel so lucky to have a provisional psychologist with access to the latest therapy innovations joining us in Randwick.
You are getting a fresh face as Rachele heads towards completing her psychological registration with the College of Professional Psychology.
This means Rachele graduated from the University of Wollongong in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology Honors), with a major in Psychology and minor in Philosophy. Rachele is a dedicated and skilled therapist, she completed her Clinical Resource Therapist qualification in 2016 with the Resource Therapy Institute of Australia.
Her skills include working across the lifespan with children, adults and families. Rachele wants you to know she work from a strengths-based frame work with a client centered approach. Since provisional registration she has gained experience working with physical/intellectual disabilities, a range of mood related and developmental disorders, anxiety related disorders and personality disorders. Rachele’s therapeutic toolkit includes Resource Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focused Therapy.
Rachele’s specialty areas of interest
include working with those of you who have phobias – fear of flying, addictions, social phobia, agoraphobia anxiety, depression, trauma and stress-related difficulties.
Rachele is available on Fridays for individual adult appointments in Randwick.
You will also benefit from a special session rate. Please enquire with me Philipa 0434 559011. Book early to get your preferred time, as she has limitd appointment slots.
It’s not unusual to feel a need to blame your ex-partner for a relationship that ended or your current spouse if there has been a breach in the relationship say in the case of an affair.
The problem with taking this position is it keeps you stuck and unable to move forward.
Blame is a negative, heavy emotion that will sink your happiness and block possibilities for recovery.
Blame keeps you connected to either the past marriage or the current hurt. It blocks healthy healing and learning.
Maybe this is sounding a little like where you are right now or you know of a good friend, your sister who’s only focus is on their partner’s wrongs ?
While they may have a good point you are past hearing about it and feel stuck and powerless also.