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Stopping the pain cycle of mutual injury in your relationship

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January 13, 2020
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Reboot Your Relationship with Joe Whitcomb, Licensed Trauma-Informed Relationship Psychotherapist

Reboot Your Relationship with Joe Whitcomb 310-560-0726 or click here to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation: https://calendly.com/rebootyourrelationship

"Raging against the dying of the light!"

Volatile couples are often passionate couples. "We love each other and have a good relationship, why we do end up in the same hurtful arguments?" The passion in your relationship is energizing but can also turn into fights accompanied by extreme anger. Often this results in one person withdrawing and both left feeling hurt and misunderstood. I help couples turn volatility into versatility. Volatility is explosive energy; versatility means having choices and tools to use at the right moment while keeping healthy passion alive. My couples are people who have strong relationships but need help breaking patterns that continue having them slip into a vicious cycle and vortex.

Some couples come committed to having their relationship thrive, others come with the intention of working out a divorce that is collaborative and respectful and includes a co-parenting plan that works for the whole family. I also work with couples to create and implement a healthy post-divorce family life.

When couples disagree, most repeat the following disruptive pattern: blame, criticize, defend, express contempt, distance, and emotionally or physically withdraw. Distress is not about how many fights you have or even if you resolve the fights. Distress is about how you fight, and whether you can retain some sort of emotional connection after the fight. While traditional types of marital counseling tend to be open-ended and seek to solve immediate problems, such as continual arguing, by focusing primarily on behavior change and communication skills, my approach hones in on increasing a couple's appreciation for how each partner feels in order to build trust and a secure base they can each rely on. In this approach, couples learn to recognize the negative (vicious) cycle and pattern 'complain-defend-complain-defe nd-complain-defend' they are stuck in, where one person criticizes and the other responds defensively or withdraws. Couples learn to identify the needs and fears that keep them in that cycle. They learn to identify and express their underlying emotions. Partners learn to empathize with each other and become more supportive of each other. Partners come together through the emotional needs they are each expressing, and can begin to comfort each other's needs.

Until a couple is able to identify, acknowledge and ultimately forgive injuries, an emotional gulf persists between them. No matter how dissatisfying things have become and how unhappy or angry partners may be, they each need to feel safe in coming together to work out their problems. Each partner needs to understand the emotions dictating their actions. The emotions behind perceived problems are the key to understanding each other.

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