Keep the Conflict Small!

Keep the Conflict Small! (With Managed Emotions)

By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

© 2015 by Bill Eddy

Whether you’re having an argument with a family member, friend or co-worker, it’s easy nowadays to make little conflicts way too big. All around us are repeated images of people arguing and losing control of their emotions – in emails, on the Internet, in movies and on TV – especially in the news (do you know what so-and-so said about you-know-who?) Not only is this unnecessary, but allowing conflicts to get large can be harmful to important relationships, increase the anxiety of those around us (especially children) and lower one’s status in other people’s eyes.

For example, in a recent article in Parade Magazine about the steps to becoming a successful entrepreneur, the author-expert Linda Rottenberg wrote: “The most important step is to manage your emotions.” (“An Entrepreneur Should Never Be a Daredevil,” November 2, 2014) In a recently-reported study about children’s brain development, child psychiatrist and researcher Jeffrey Rowe said the first five years of life are critically important to forming proper brain connections. “If you can’t control yourself, can’t control your emotions, you can’t pay attention to the outside world.” (B.J. Fikes, “Money, brain size linked,” U-T San Diego, March 31, 2015)

This article has some suggestions for keeping conflicts small by managing our emotions. Managed emotions are a big part of our skills-training methods, New Ways for Families and New Ways for Work, and may be more important in today’s world than ever before.
Try to Avoid This

A Family Feud: An argument in a couple: “You always leave your socks on the floor.” (That’s a little conflict.) “You’re such a slob.” (Now it’s a judgment about the whole person.) “You men, you’re all alike – irresponsible and self-centered!” (Now it’s about a whole gender.) If another family member came into this argument at this point, he or she would probably take gender sides and the conflict could easily get much bigger.

A Workplace Conflict: Some people clean up after themselves in the lunchroom and others don’t. Joe is a cleaner-upper. ”Look at this banana peel and sandwich bag, just left behind.” (A problem to solve.) “Why do I always have to clean up for everyone else!” (Now it’s about being a victim of everyone.) “Maybe I should go someplace to work where I’m appreciated!” (Now it’s about quitting – ending the relationship.)

A Divorce Dispute: Parents have to discuss a change of schedule: “I’ve got an opportunity for this coming Wednesday night – can we switch so I see the kids Tuesday or Thursday?” (A common problem to solve.) “I’ve told you a hundred times, I’m sticking to our Agreement, with no exceptions. 100%. The kids need absolute stability.” (Now we’re slipping into all-or-nothing thinking. Doubtful that it’s been a hundred times. However, rare cases do require no changes, because of extreme manipulation or violence in the past.) “In fact, I’m going to take you back to court to reduce your time with the kids, you f—ing jerk! You’re the worst father/mother in the world.” (Oops. Guess the children’s stability isn’t the issue after all.)
Try This Instead

In all of the above examples, the speaker quickly went from a simple problem to solve into all-or-nothing thinking and intense emotions. We refer to these emotions as unmanaged emotions, because they don’t get the person what the person really wants: respect, peace and quiet, a happy relationship, or whatever they were looking for. Now they have a bigger problem to solve and probably feel helpless or victimized, and distracted. Remember what the brain researcher said above: You can’t pay attention to the outside world when you’re busy reacting. So how can you manage your emotions in situations like this?

1. Regularly remind yourself to keep the conflict small. Ask yourself:

“Is this really a big deal?”

“Can this problem be solved by making a proposal?”

“What is the smallest issue here? Let’s start by solving that.”

“What are my choices here? I always have choices.”

2. Regularly give yourself encouraging statements. This will help you feel less defensive and less likely to over-react to other people’s behavior or emotions:

“It’s not about me!”

“I’m doing fine! I don’t have to prove anything here.”

“I can take a break!”

“I can handle this. No reason to lose control.”
Emotions Are Contagious

This all might seem very easy to do while you’re reading this. But actually it’s harder to do when other people aren’t managing their emotions, because emotions are contagious. There seems to be at least two reasons for this impact on our brains.

Amygdala responses: We have two amygdalae in our brains; one in the middle of each hemisphere. The right amygdala quickly reacts to other people’s facial expressions of fear and anger, and instantly starts a fight, flight or freeze response. Apparently the left amygdala responds more to threats in writing. You can see the protective response happening when someone else over-reacts – it’s usually sudden and extreme, and sometimes shocking in an office or in a meeting. But our prefrontal cortex (right behind your forehead) can over-ride the amygdala and say: Relax, it’s not a crisis. And the amygdala quiets down. This comes with practice – lots of practice telling yourself what’s not a crisis. This is a lot of what adolescence is about: figuring out what are real dangers that need fast all-or-nothing action and what are just problems to solve rationally.

Mirror neurons: Apparently we have neurons in our brains that fire when we do something AND when we just watch someone else doing something. Is seems that it’s a short-cut to learning – our brains are constantly getting us ready to do what others are doing. It may be a part of our group survival skills that we’re born with. Better to quickly run or fight or hide when others are doing so, rather than risk getting isolated and not surviving. But these responses can also be over-ridden – once you know about this. (So now you know about this.) But it also takes practice.

With this knowledge, you can be more specific with yourself when reminding yourself to keep the conflict small:

“I don’t have to mirror other people’s emotions.”

“I’m just having an amygdala response. But it’s not a crisis, so I can relax.”

“I have a choice: to react or focus on problem-solving. This is just a problem to solve.”
Get Support and Consultation

Another way to keep the conflict small is to talk to other people and get encouragement for yourself. This way you’ll feel less defensive and less anxious. Also, get their consultation suggestions for how to deal with a conflict and help keep it small. Ask: “Do you think this is a crisis? What do you see as my choices? What do you suggest?” Just talking to someone else can make a big difference.

You also may be facing a new problem you’ve never faced before. Don’t feel like you have to deal with it alone and don’t feel ashamed of yourself for being in your situation. Today, the types of problems most of us face have come up for thousands or millions of other people. Family issues, workplace conflicts, divorce disputes are extremely common. Yet it’s easy to see these problems as huge and overwhelming, and become isolated and feel helpless. Remind yourself: “It’s just a problem to solve. I can get consultation and suggestions from someone else. I don’t have to deal with this alone.”

Tune Out Extreme Media

Much of today’s media repeatedly shows dramatic images of people losing control over ordinary problems: from sitcoms to movies to the evening news. They compete to grab your attention with more and more extreme behavior, to get viewers and “market share” in the highly competitive world of modern media. But remember mirror neurons. We are absorbing this extreme loss-of-control behavior we observe, even when we aren’t thinking about it. Use your prefrontal cortex and remind yourself: These aren’t crises; they’re entertainment designed to grab my amygdala and mirror neurons. I can tune this out. It’s up to me what I think and feel.

Conclusion

Modern life has made us more aware of problems around the world, and exposes us constantly to other people’s over-reactions to problems. However, we can keep the conflict small, by what we tell ourselves and by understanding that we have control over our emotions to a great extent – especially if we practice encouraging statements and getting support. We’re not alone with these problems – at home or at work. We can handle them and get help when we need it. We can “Keep the conflict small!”

Bill Eddy is a mediator, lawyer, therapist and the President of the High Conflict Institute based in San Diego. High Conflict Institute provides consultation for high-conflict situations, coaching for BIFF Responses (written responses that are Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm), and training for professionals in managing high conflict disputes in legal, workplace, healthcare and educational settings. He is also co-author with L. Georgi DiStefano, LCSW, of the Axiom Award-Winning new book: It’s All Your Fault at Work! Managing Narcissists and Other High-Conflict People. For books, videos for anyone, free articles or to schedule a training: www.HighConflictInstitute.com.
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Silent Treatment is Emotional Abuse By Immature Partner

What Married Couples Should Know About the Silent Treatment.

It is Abusive.

By Sheri Stritof Marriage Expert

The silent treatment doesn’t work. And it is mean spirited.

This form of emotional and verbal abuse as a manipulation tactic is also ineffective and hurts your marriage.

As well as leaving important issues in your marriage unresolved, the silent treatment may make your spouse feel worthless, unloved, hurt, confused, frustrated, angry, and unimportant.
When you sulk or pout and refuse to talk about a problem, accept an apology, or help make a decision, not only are you shutting your spouse out, you are being cruel.
Like saying “I don’t care” or “whatever” or rolling your eyes or smirking, using the silent treatment is a cop out.

  • How to Respond to the Silent Treatment
    • If your spouse denies giving you the silent treatment by saying it’s just a cooling off period or a desire for some space or time alone, point out in a respectful tone of voice that you are not a mind reader and that a need for space should be expressed prior to the period of silence and that there should be a time limit to wanting time to cool off or get your act together.
  • Silent Treatment is NOT Stonewalling.
  • Some experts recommend not acknowledging the silence or cold shoulder mode and suggest you leave your spouse alone to sulk.• Don’t respond with threats.
  • Recognize the tactic of not talking to you is a control tactic or a way of avoiding having to admit making a mistake.
  • Quit inventing ways to get your mate to speak to you.
  • Walk away.Leave them to their self inflicted misery.
  • Do something fun or interesting that you want to do.
  • But if your spouse talks to you, respond with a soft courteous voice.

What Others Have to Say About The Silent Treatment

Kipling D. Williams: “A survey of over 2,000 Americans conducted by Faulkner et al. (1997) found that 67% admitted to using the silent treatment, deliberately not speaking to a person in their presence, or a loved one. The percentage was slightly higher (75%) for those who indicated that they had been a target of the silent treatment by a loved one … They found that the silent treatment was just as likely to be used by males as females, and that it was used more often to terminate a partner’s behaviors than to elicit them.”
Source:Kipling D. Williams PhD. Ostracism: The Power of Silence. 2002. pgs. 9-10.

Gregory L. Jantz, Ann McMurray: “The silence, the loss of verbal relationship, is meant to exact an emotional toll on the other person, who often will go to great lengths to attempt to restore communication with the abuser. This level of control is precisely what the abuser is looking for, as well as a way to vent his or her anger at the other person. By not verbally expressing that anger, by ‘avoiding’ showing anger, the abuser is allowed to feel as if the victim is the only person at fault for whatever wrong is perceived by the abuser. If the victim responds to the silent treatment with anger, the abuser is doubly vindicated.”
Source: Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, Ann McMurray. Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse. 2009. pg. 78.

Walter B. Roberts: “Silent Treatments are used to control the situation by their lack of responses. When they do nothing, others have to do all the work. The power of the Silent Treatments rests in their abilities to always be right … They maintain a position of superiority by not owning a part of a plan — if we let them get away with it …

The Trick

The trick is always to keep the Silent Treatments engaged and maybe even provide a little positive provocation to get them to respond, as a method of increasing their participation.”
Source: Walter B. Roberts Jr. Working With Parents of Bullies and Victims. 2008. pg. 75.

Sharon Anthony Bower, Gordon H. Bower: “The best way to counter the silent treatment is to assert your rights and ask for a speaking partner.”
Source: Sharon Anthony Bower, Gordon H. Bower. Asserting Your-Self: A Practical Guide for Positive Change. 1991. pg. 121.

Source: http://marriage.about.com/od/nonverbal/a/What-Married-Couples-Should-Know-About-The-Silent-Treatment.htm

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The Silent Treatment: How And Why It SCREAMS Abuse

By Cathy Meyer Divorce Support Expert

What is going on when your spouse gives you the silent treatment?

They are displaying anger and aggression and in immature way of handling marital problems and communication.

Shutting down and refusing to communicate with a spouse is an abusive way of saying, “This is all your fault, and you deal with it because I’m not going to.”

Signs

How do you know if your spouse is giving you the silent treatment?
• They refuse to speak to you.
• They leave the room when you enter.
• They talk to others around you but, not you.
• They refuse to share meals with you.
• They turn their back to you in bed.
• They don’t respond to questions when asked.
• They use the children as messengers instead of coming to you directly.

This behavior may go on for days or even weeks.

  • You live in an atmosphere that is tense and uncomfortable.
  • You second guess yourself and your words and are constantly trying to figure out a way to end the silence and get the marriage back on track.
  • You are being punished and thanks to your spouse’s silent treatment you are left to wonder what you did to earn such punishment.

Your spouse’s silent treatment is about manipulating you into getting what they want. It’s about controlling you without saying a word.
What impact does your spouse’s silent treatment have on you?

You will internalize their silence and make it about something you’ve done wrong.
Internalizing marital problems and taking responsibility for those problems with a spouse who refuses to communicate can lead to health problems, depression and anxiety.
You are constantly on guard out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and causing them to go silent.
The silent treatment sends the message that you and your needs are not important to the person who vowed to love and honor you. You feel dismissed!

Why is the silent treatment so damaging to the marriage and you?

  • No marriage can survive emotional assault.
  • Silent Treatment produces break up/divorce.
  • The silent abuser cannot bear real mature intimacy. It scares the hell out of them.
  • Not only is your spouse’s silent treatment abusive to you, it is abusive to the marriage.

All marriages have problems, problems don’t get solved if one party refuses to acknowledge and address those problems.

Marriage is a partnership between two mature adults.

If your spouse constantly goes silent you are living with a child who wants to be catered to and, is ill equipped to handle problems that come along with adult partnerships.

Giving someone the silent treatment is manipulation and punishment of a spouse.

The spouse who is being abused by this technique will eventually withdraw emotionally and one day give up on the marriage.

The abuser is secretly relieved. It was ‘their’ fault. They believe “I am perfect. I have no work to do on myself. Yes, it was them.” Then Repeat, next relationship same thing and over and over. One day maybe the individual wakes up. Mostly like they die alone. No one likes a person who is perfect. It is not human. Denial in abusers is the answer. They never become an adult. They defer responsibility on others. Blame is their delusional game.

Can you really stay married to such an emotional abuser when there are healthy partners wanting someone like you. An individual capable of a mature relationship with communication skills, conflict management skills and simply a loving empathetic feeling person?

Final thoughts:

Not everyone is equipped with the relationship skills needed to succeed at marriage.

The silent treatment is a distorted coping skill used by those who don’t know how to engage in an adult manner is conflict and problem solving.

They always have a reason or excuse for their behavior. My ex used to tell me that he, “Needed to cool down before talking” about a problem. The problem is, once he had “cooled down” he still refused to communicate.

Your abuser may use you as an excuse.

You may simply want to discuss an issue that they are uncomfortable with but you will be labeled as overreacting or becoming hysterical.

It isn’t about you though, it is about them and their stunted developmental patterns when it comes to lack of intimate communication.

Options

You have options, Couples can change behaviors and learn more productive relationship skills.

The Silent Treatment abuser will have to admit this is not productive and helps KILL the emotions in their partner and day by day driving them away.

Death of the relationship comes like a thief in the night.

One day the partner moves to apathy as displayed by their Silent Treatment partner.

The heart is dead. The relationship over.

Acceptance by anyone is the motivation to move on. …Never received it during the Silent Treatment abuse.

Over.

The abuser gets what they want:

No relationship involving intimacy, relationship growth.

Alone is better than that.

Accepting responsibility almost always comes too late.

All sad but true.

Want to Save Your Relationship/Marriage?

Try couple marital counseling or find a relationship coach to help the two of you begin to work together in a way that is healthy.

If, after some time you see no change in their behavior you need to decide whether or not to live with it, or divorce.

You do deserve intimacy in a marriage.

Source: http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/domesticabuse/fl/The-Silent-Treatment-How-And-Why-It-SCREAMS-Abuse.htm

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The silent but deadly treatment – sabotaging your own marriage

December 29, 2010 10:27 PM MST

There are many words and actions in heated moments within an argument that can be considered hurtful and destructive to one’s marriage relationship. Some scratch the surface of poking at the threshold of provocation; and others dig deep irreversible wounds to the soul, never to be recovered from.

But there is a trend among married couples that seems to continue to permeate grown, mature adult marriage relationships, no matter what religious preference, race or nationality, or upbringing.

It’s the act of giving what’s been coined, “The Silent Treatment,” or simply put, purposefully ignoring your spouse and withholding all forms of interactivity and conversation.

Almost all do not realize that they are in fact sabotaging their own relationship by this hurtful tactic and could even possibly dissolve the foundation to which the relationship was based on in the first place.

Many dub giving the “Silent Treatment” as a form of pure “abuse”. Also subscribed as “the worst emotional abuse known”. To that we have no reason to disagree.

Giving your spouse the silent treatment is understood as a form of punishment to the other person.

  • The clear intent is a purposeful endeavor to make the other:
  • • feel unimportant,
  • • devalued,
  • • belittled,
  • • isolated to their own self without the human contact,
  • • All in retribution and revenge because of one or more things that were said or done.

The immediate problem is… what if the hurt was not on purpose, but accidental?
To quote Abuse101.com,

“Silent treatment is a form of banishing someone from the abuser’s existence without the benefit of closure or a good bye or a chance at reconciliation.
In a word..it’s meant to torture someone you profess to love.”
(http://abuse101.com/silenttreatmentandabuse.html)

Giving someone this “Silent Treatment” is such a negative form of abuse and retribution, that even Merriam-Webster has a real definition for this coined term.

The definition states, “An act of completely ignoring a person or thing by resort to silence especially as a means of expressing contempt or disapproval.(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/silent%20treatment)

The low-down.

Despite the fact that giving someone the “Silent Treatment” is a clear show of immaturity and spite, we would also like to bring to light a few thoughts on how this will simply affect your marriage.

Firstly, it is completely counter-productive!

The whole point in your actions when dealing with being hurt by your partner is to communicate to them how they might have hurt you so that they can realize the impact their words or actions had on you. But instead of communicating, you have destroyed that opportunity for the both of you to restore the closeness, love and overall feelings of love and friendship.

Instead of making your partner feel bad and wanting to crawl to you, you have put them in a position of now having to survive devastating hurt coming from you.
The Silent Treatment is in all levels counterproductive to the point that it can literally become a factor of separation or divorce and disillusionment of a marriage.

Secondly, it shows your partner that you cannot handle real, life problems.

It brings to mind the children in the playground that stick out their bottom lip, and stick their fingers in their ears while they loudly and obnoxiously sing, “la-la-la, I can’t hear you!”

Truth be told, giving the Silent Treatment is not an effective way to deal with real issues. Yet there are untold adults that do just that.

There are many more effective ways to deal and communicate with your partner than to give the Silent Treatment.

Just know, that when you do this, it not only deeply wounds the one you love, but also yourself and your own marriage.

It tears at the very fabric of what holds your marriage together, and gives way the opportunity for bitterness and wrath to utterly destroy your marriage.
So, when the urge comes to give the Silent Treatment, resist it.

Just make sure you do whatever it takes to move past this type of behavior.

Seek counseling for yourself.

Your self-righteousness will destroy your marriage that YOU caused.

You are the Silent Treatment Abuser.

Wake Up to Emotional Intelligence before your high IQ destroys you.

You will be right and single.

When it comes to marriage, silence is certainly not golden, communication is paramount.

Silent but deadly…not farts…You!

Choose the relationship by learning Conflict Management skills and learn to Communicate.

Silence does not work in a mature relationship called marriage.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-silent-but-deadly-treatment-sabotaging-your-own-marriage

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder Definition
By Mayo Clinic Staff

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs.

You may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you’re not given the special favors or admiration you believe you deserve. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around talk therapy (psychotherapy).

If you have narcissistic personality disorder:

  • you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious.
  • You often monopolize conversations.
  • You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior.
  • You may feel a sense of entitlement
  • When you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry.
  • You may insist on having “the best” of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.
  • At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism.
  • You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation.
  • To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior.
  • Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection.

 

Causes

It’s not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with other mental disorders, the cause is likely complex.

  • Narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to:
    • Mismatches in parent-child relationships with either excessive pampering or excessive criticism
    • Genetics or psychobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking
    • Parenting styles that overemphasize the child’s specialness and criticize fears and failures may be partially responsible.
    • The child may hide low self-esteem by developing a superficial sense of perfection and behavior that shows a need for constant admiration.

 

Treatments and drugs – Psychotherapy

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around talk therapy, also called psychotherapy.

 

Psychotherapy can help you:

• Learn to relate better with others so your relationships are more intimate, enjoyable and rewarding

• Understand the causes of your emotions and what drives you to compete, to distrust others, and perhaps to despise yourself and others

Because personality traits can be difficult to change, therapy may take several years.

Areas of change are directed at helping you accept responsibility and learning to:
• Accept and maintain real personal relationships and collaboration with co-workers
• Recognize and accept your actual competence and potential so you can tolerate criticisms or failures
• Increase your ability to understand and regulate your feelings
• Understand and tolerate the impact of issues related to your self-esteem
• Release your desire for unattainable goals and ideal conditions and gain an acceptance of what’s attainable and what you can accomplish

Medications

There are no medications specifically used to treat narcissistic personality disorder. However, if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other conditions, medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be helpful.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20025568

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Silent treatment speaks volumes about a relationship

Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY 6:03 a.m. EDT August 3, 2014

If you’re suffering in silence — or because of it — your relationship may be more endangered than you realize, according to new research that shows those whose interactions include the “silent treatment” can spell ruin for the future.

Although researchers say the cold shoulder is the most common way people deal with marital conflict, an analysis of 74 studies, based on more than 14,000 participants, shows that when one partner withdraws in silence or shuts down emotionally because of perceived demands by the other, the harm is both emotional and physical.

“The more this pattern emerges within your relationship, the greater the chances one or both partners experience heightened levels of anxiety or may use more aggressive forms of behavior,” says Paul Schrodt, a professor of communication studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, who led the study published this spring in the journal Communication Monographs.

“Each partner sees the other person’s behavior as the start of a fight,” he says. “If you go to him and ask why he’s so withdrawn from his wife, it’s because ‘she’s constantly nagging me and constantly asking a million questions.’

If you ask her why she’s making demands of him, it’s because ‘he doesn’t tell me anything. I don’t get the sense he cares about our relationship.’ Each partner fails to see how their own behavior is contributing to the pattern.”

In much of the research, Schrodt says, the man tends to be more silent; but psychologist Les Parrott of Seattle says he has seen less of a breakdown along gender lines.

“I see plenty of men get demanding,” he says.

It’s that pattern, Schrodt says, that is so damaging, because it signals a serious sign of distress in the relationship. The research, which spanned from 1987 to 2011, wasn’t specifically about the silent treatment; however, the silent treatment is part of a broader pattern that extends not just to romantic relationships but to parenting styles as well, which also were part of the research, he says.

Parrott, co-author of The Good Fight: How Conflict Can Bring you Closer, a book published in April, says the silent treatment is a very difficult pattern to break because it’s such an ingrained behavior.

“We learn this strategy very early on — just as little kids — to shut somebody out as a way to punish,” Parrott says. “Many of us are prone to sulk or to pout, and that is an early form of giving somebody the silent treatment.”
Parrott, a psychology professor at Seattle Pacific University, says nothing good comes from the silent treatment because it’s “manipulative, disrespectful and not productive.”

Schrodt’s analysis found that couples who use such conflict behaviors experience lower relationship satisfaction, less intimacy and poorer communication, which is also associated with divorce.

And, he says, some of the studies found the effects were not just emotional but physiological, such as urinary, bowel or erectile dysfunction.

“Partners get locked in this pattern, largely because they each see the other as the cause,” Schrodt says. “Both partners see the other as the problem.”

Parrott and Schrodt agree being aware of the destructive pattern can help resolve it.

“Conflict is inevitable, but how you manage it can make the difference,” Parrott says.

How to break the pattern of the silent treatment

— Become aware of what’s really going on. The person making demands feels abandoned; the silent person is protecting himself. Each needs to ask: “Why am I behaving this way? How does my behavior make my partner feel?”
— Avoid character assassination. It will do more damage to label your spouse as “selfish” or “rude.”
— Use the word “I,” because the more you use “you,” the longer your squabble will last.

 

You can say something like, “This is how I feel when you stop talking to me.”
— Mutually agree to take a timeout.

 

When the cycle emerges, both partners need to cool their heads and warm their hearts before engaging.

And some people just need a bit of time to think before they speak. This in NOT Days.
— Genuinely apologize as soon as you are able.

Source: Les Parrott, psychologist at Seattle Pacific University; co-author of the 2014 book The Good Fight: How Conflict Can Bring you Closer
Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/03/relationships-conflict-research/12987065/

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By: Mort Fertel, author and Founder of the Marriage Fitness System for Relationship Renewal.

In marriage, you can be right or you can be happy.

Let me explain, and let me start by sharing an email I received from a women struggling in her marriage. She wrote:

Dear Mort,

We are in week 2 of the silent treatment! It all started over something so little and ridiculous! We are both adults, old enough to know better than this! He is a judge, I am a social worker ! He won’t budge! I need help!

Jodie

Oh, the dreaded silent treatment. The big stand-off. You know it, right? Horrible, isn’t it? And it doesn’t just eat away at your marriage; it eats away at your stomach. The stress on your body and the tension in your house…it’s the WORST.

At the time, you’re committed to avoiding him/her for the rest of your life. You’ve never prayed so hard wishing that he/she won’t come into the room or that he/she would just go to bed already.

Sometimes you feel like you could explode, right? There’s so much bottled-up inside you.

And yet you let it continue. WHY?

You refuse to be the one to apologize first. You’re NOT going to break the ice this time. Why not?        Answer: Ego.

Most silent treatments start like Jodie’s started…with something “little and ridiculous.” Most couples can’t remember what the impetus was. And if they could, they’d be too embarrassed to admit that something so small blew-up into something so big.

So what are these silent treatments or stand-offs REALLY about? And how can you avoid them or end them soon after they begin?

It’s interesting that Jodie made a point to share with me that she and her husband “know better.” In other words, they’re intelligent, educated, and accomplished people. Jodie’s husband is even a judge, an expert in distinguishing between right and wrong. They know that treating each other this way doesn’t make sense. They know IT is wrong. But they also know that THEY are right.

And that’s exactly the problem.

Silent treatments ensue when both people feel they’re RIGHT. And the more intense each spouse’s conviction to their perspective, the longer the silence lasts.

And, ironically, the more intelligent and the articulate the couple, the MORE LIKELY they are to endure silence between them. Because intelligent and articulate people have confidence in their position and justification for holding their ground.

Although Jodie is surprised that her and her husband, intelligent people, could be so petty; the fact is that one reason they’re holding their silence for so long is BECAUSE they’re intelligent.

In other words, intellectual capacity and marital satisfaction can be INVERSELY related.

Let me say it another way: When it comes to your marriage, you can be right or you can be happy. But sometimes you can’t be both.

In a courtroom, a hospital, or an office , right and wrong determine success or failure. The decision to prescribe the right medicine, for example, could be the difference between life and death. The relationship between the doctor and the patient is secondary.

Being RIGHT is what matters and what is rewarded.

In marriage, being right has no value. All that matters is the relationship.

Sometimes you have to choose. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happily married?

Remember, being right in your marriage will get you NOTHING.

Just because you’re right/wrong paradigm works at the office doesn’t mean that you should bring it home. “He who is a hammer thinks everything is a nail.”

Some things work perfectly in one area of life and fail terribly in another.

In marriage, you have to be like a carpenter and know which tool to use.

The right/wrong mode is the WRONG tool to use in your marriage.

The more you insist on being RIGHT, the more you will be miserable in your marriage. Don’t go for RIGHT; go for LOVE.

Jodie expects that because she and her husband are “intelligent,” they shouldn’t find themselves in these petty stalemates. But just because Jodie and her husband have a high

IQ, doesn’t mean they have a high EQ.

IQ is a measure of your INTELLECTUAL intelligence. The higher your IQ, the better your ability to process information and determine what’s “right.”

EQ is a measure of your EMOTIONAL intelligence. The higher your EQ, the better your ability to connect with people and succeed in relationships.

Just as some athletes are strong but not fast, so too many people have a high IQ but a low EQ.

Bottom line: Intelligence, in the way Jodie means it, has little bearing on her and her husband’s ability to succeed in their marriage. In fact, a high IQ coupled with a low EQ can be a disastrous combination for a marriage.

The good news, however, is that EQ can be developed.

Here’s one way to begin to develop your EQ and improve the quality of your relationship.

The first step is to redefine what it means to be RIGHT.

Most people think of right and wrong as black and white. And our experience at work usually reinforces this understanding. After all, there can only be one verdict, one prescription, and one marketing plan. In other words, if I’m right then unless you agree with me you are wrong.

But there is a TRUTH which transcends right and wrong.

What do you see?

The picture you’re looking at is a picture of BOTH a profile of two people and a wine glass. But YOU can only see one at a time. It’s optically impossible for you to see both images at the same time. HOWEVER, they are BOTH there.

face

What do you see?

One person sees a profile. Your partner sees a frontal view. Whose right?

Right and wrong is an emotionally immature way to view most things in the context of marriage.

 

TRUTH has more than one perspective.

 

Your ability to see the truth from your spouse’s perspective is crucial for the success of your relationship. Can you “Human-Up” and see your partner’s point of view. Nope, did not think so. You are an idiot.

How did that feel? Make you mad? Are you triggered so easily. I rest my case.

And I don’t mean that you should see things from your spouse’s perspective as a manipulative strategy for finding compromise or out of pity toward your spouse.

You need to see your spouse’s perspective so YOU can come to a more complete understanding of TRUTH. If you’re only a profile, then you’re not seeing the whole picture. Your spouse is your ticket to you having a greater understanding.

Silent treatments are usually the result of spouses having too narrow a view of the truth. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean your spouse is not right ALSO.

Next time you’re at a stand-off with your spouse, ask them to explain their perspective.

And you don’t have to get defensive.

Do not stonewall.

Do no do The Silent Treatment. Grow up.

You don’t have to compromise your position in order to acknowledge theirs.

The chances are good that you are BOTH right. Two smart ass people.

And when you appreciate their perspective, you’ll be a better person and the silence will end.

When it comes to your marriage, it’s better to be happy than right. That’s the TRUTH as I see it. But, hey, I’m open to your perspective.

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Director Richard Taylor

Director Richard Taylor

Director Richard Taylor BS, CAMF
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Diplomate American Association Anger Management Providers

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