It feels terrible when we have the same arguments over the same disagreements, over and over again… Doesn’t it? It’s so frustrating to feel like we are living in the twilight zone, or that we are having a Groundhog Day experience… It’s tough to know that we’ll have the same conversation without resolution, yet again. Feeling like beating your head against the wall? Having repeating arguments, how you’re your relationship dynamics?
Having the same fight, or conflict, over and over might have to do with communication skills, but most importantly it has to do with your relationship dynamics… For you see something happens before a fight ensues, before a conflict is identified or sometimes even before verbal communication is started. And that is being triggered…
Being triggered means our sensitivities get perturbed. Or that core or old wounds or trauma get poked. The poking engenders strong emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, numbness, or feeling out of control.
When these feelings come on strong, they are accompanied by higher activation of neurotransmitters in our brain and hormonal release. The cocktail floods us and monopolizes our brain activity, becoming less engaged with our higher executive functioning. This is where the amounts of skills or tools you have don’t matter as they become inaccessible…
Our getting thrown off might result in our isolating, shutting down emotionally, becoming argumentative, or becoming physically aggressive. At this juncture the partners resemble toddlers in their ability to manage themselves.
This is why it’s so important to do our personal development work. For healing and growing ourselves up, so we don’t walk around with gaping wounds and sensitivities that are easily triggered. And that drive our approach to life and our relationship, and our relationship dynamics…
In interactions with our partner, we have the opportunity for healing and growing ourselves up. This is the bonus benefit of being in relationship with our Partner and their perfect imperfections that perfectly complement our own…
It behooves partners to not lose sight of this gift, and to transcend the recurring dissatisfying patterns by addressing their triggers through the Relationship Enrichment Lifestyle™.
When getting triggered in our relationship, there is a built-in opportunity to now get what we didn’t get growing up (to heal)… And, for learning how to stretch ourselves to meet our partner’s opposing needs (to grow up, become whole)…
Once we integrate this into our relating, we are able to tap into our inherent relationship synergy… This is when the waters part, and life is our oyster… LOL
Learning what drives the dynamics (our and our partner’s triggers) and how to work with them for our evolution and more meaningful Journey, is a marvelous lens and mindset to embrace in our relationship. This is when we stop the power struggle and becomes allies. This is when we become a true Partnership…
This is then our conscious and intentional relationship. Being aware of our triggers and being mindful and intentional about addressing them, is the way to change the relationship dynamics and to create the relationship we want. This is the key to our transformation…
Changing the Dynamics
It’s very easy to feel stuck, frustrated and hopeless when it seems that we just go around and around in our conversations, if we even have them, without getting anywhere. The same issue/s keep creeping up and no matter what we do we can’t seem to crack the code. But with a little mindfulness and intentionality we have the keys to the kingdom.
The key is to pay attention to the reactivity. Start noticing when you get prickly, what gets on your nerves or annoys you, what are you sensitive about, what touches your sensitivities, and such. Now do this by observing what happens to you, what comes up for you. Don’t do this by focusing on what your partner is doing or not doing, and taking yourself on a ride about them…
Then notice how you respond in the interaction or situation. What do you do outwardly and inwardly? What are your “emotional behaviors”? Shut down, withdraw, distance, dismiss, minimize, and the like? Or pounce, attack, pursue, nag, control, maximize, and the like?
The set of reactions you identified are your go-to Defense Mechanisms…
You can be on a spectrum from Distancer to Pursuer… The higher the conflict in the relationship, the more the polarization…
What are you feeling behind your defense mechanisms? Controlled, smothered, suffocated, cornered, unappreciated, inadequate? Or, abandoned, rejected, unwanted, unworthy, unsupported, alone?
These feelings are your Wounds…
The Distancer feels – Controlled, smothered, suffocated, cornered, unappreciated, inadequate
The Pursuer feels – Abandoned, rejected, unwanted, unworthy, unsupported, alone
Share the instructions with your partner and have identify their Defense Mechanisms and Wounds… I’m sure that by just doing your side, you can probably identify your partner’s as well. But it’s best for them to identify and own their own experience…
Regardless of how you arrive at identifying your partner’s side, I’m sure you’ll notice that you are opposites… A little or a whole lot.
Now, don’t let this scare you as Opposites Attract… And, once you start doing your work, you’ll become less polarized and learn to work with your differences to the satisfaction of you both.
Your Reciprocity Loop
Your dynamics is a reciprocity loop, a recurring repeating pattern. Actually, it’s a beautiful dance between the oppositeness…
- You want closeness, they want space.
- You want to discuss things to process, they need time on their own to think to process.
- You want to be flexible, they want to run on schedule.
- You want to do things together, they want to do things on their own.
- And, so on…
Partners might get triggered in the face of the different preferences… Specially if there is already some disconnection and unappreciation going on at the moment…
The Looping: Something happens. Partner A gets Triggered and responds with their Defense Mechanism. Which Triggers Partner B, who responds with their own Defense Mechanism. Resulting in Partner A having their Wounds/Feelings additionally triggered, to which they respond with more of their Defense Mechanism. Additionally, triggering Partner B’s Wounds/Feelings. And on it goes…
- Partner B announces they’ll be away for the next three days.
- This makes Partner A feel unwanted, rejected and abandoned.
- They react by demanding why the partner is going away, asking a million questions about the trip, requesting a gazillion things get done before they go away, asking them to come back early, and such.
- Partner B now feels controlled, nagged, and trapped.
- They in turn don’t want to provide details on the trip, are evasive about the possibility of coming back early, forget to do some of the tasks requested, and such.
- This makes Partner A feel more unwanted, alone, dismissed, unsupported. So, they become more controlling, demanding and such.
- Now Partner B feels more controlled, unappreciated, and suffocated.
- And it can really escalate…
Does this sound familiar? I know, you are not alone!
Without spelling out therapy sessions here, the first and most basic thing to do is keep your understanding of your dynamics top of mind.
So, when your partner does something that triggers you, you can put it in the right context for yourself and address what comes up differently…
And so, equally as important, is to be mindful to not operate or react in a way that triggers your partner…
Note, the Wounds that are triggered are actually rooted in childhood experiences. See if you can connect them back…
Giving each other a different experience, especially a different outcome in the face of a trigger is what’s healing… These are reparative experiences.
Another way to be healing is to ongoingly and proactively do behaviors that are antidotes to the Wounds. So, what’s needed is provided without having triggers making noise to get needs met.
For example, build-in couple/connection/togetherness and individual/alone/separateness times into your routines…
The additional beauty here, is that in stretching to give our partner their preference, we grow… So, it’s a win-win.
And that’s how you do it. Hang on to this golden ticket my friend, play with this concept to transform your relationship. You’ll be amazed at what’s possible once you crack this code! Enjoy!
ASSIGNMENT: Make a concerted effort at becoming a conscious and intentional couple… Keep your dynamics and working them top of mind!
- Identify your Defense Mechanisms and Wounds
- Identify your Loop
- Identify behavior and attitude changes to avoid Triggering each other
As with anything, when you bring consciousness, focus and attention to something, Awesomeness happens. I wish this for you in your life and your relationship.
Wishing you much joy, connection and love today and always…
With Much Love & Light!
PS1 – Check out our upcoming Masterclass on June 28th, at 5 pm ET:
You CAN Create the Relationship You Desire with Your Partner!
How to Create a Strong and Loving Relationship
It is common for couples to have ups and downs in their relationship and to struggle from time to time. If you are currently experiencing a rough patch, please know that’s all it is, and things can be turned around again. The relationship can actually become better for it… You can reboot your relationship and create the relationship you desire.
You CAN create a radiant and successful relationship: Break the Impasse. Easily Get on the Same Page. Change Repeating Patterns. Increase Connection, Intimacy and fun. Create a Strong Partnership.
In this Masterclass you’ll learn how to:
Empower yourself and break the impasse by setting effective boundaries, improving ownership and accountability, and shifting to a Relationship Enrichment Mindset
Have safer interactions, have more purposeful and meaningful conversations, and better understand each other by upgrading your communication skills and tools
Stop the looping, the recurring patterns, and having the same old fights in your relationship by understanding how your dynamics work and how to change them
Increase and deepen your connection and intimacy and have more fun with your partner by eliminating the 5 Culprits of Low Desire and establishing Connection Habits
Create a strong partnership and collaboration by embracing a Relationship Enrichment Lifestyle with upleveled daily nurturing routines and collaboration systems
Start creating your Radiant & Successful Relationship!
PS2 – As always, we are here for you! If you need more support creating your successful relationship and meaningful life, we are here to help. I’d be honored to speak with you about how we can help you. Schedule a Get Acquainted Call to connect, discuss how we can help you and how to get started. Look forward to Connecting with you!
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Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples, she is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and the Successful Couple Strategy™ that assist couples succeed at their relationship and their life. Stay Connected™ with Emma and receive weekly connection notes in your inbox with Personal Development and Relationship Enrichment insights and strategies, visit: www.metrorelationship.com