- Life is good: The couple is getting along or having a great time. There doesn’t seem to be a problem.
- Conflict: All of a sudden, stuff happens, whether it’s a miscommunication, a misunderstanding, or someone could get triggered by something. They hear what their partner is saying very differently than the way the partner said it. It could be any issue concerning kids, money, expectations, and a variety of other things.
- Reaction: This is where things have the potential of breaking down and going into an unhealthy conflict. The reaction has a thinking part and a feeling part to it.
- Acting Out: There’s a very rapid interaction between the two resulting in arguing, yelling, blaming, etc. That goes on for a period of time until finally, someone just says, they’re done, they’re out, and they withdraw.
- Cold War: The couple is still in fighting mode. They’re just not using words at this point. They’re not talking to each other. They may glare at each other. Their nonverbals are communicating, but their verbal is not. They walk past each other in the morning without saying hello. Texts are not responded to and if they are, there’s a harsh tone to them. The couple will ghost each other. Everything that would normally constitute harmony between the couple is now a dissonance. They bring up conflict reruns where they’re going into old episodes of fights that have been stockpiled in the relationship because we’re generally not good at resolving conflict unless we know how to do it. And so, couples can stay there until they do something about it. Oftentimes, their pride gets in the way and you’re losing out on two very important commodities: time and energy.
- Repair: This is where ownership is taken and ownership should be taken by both parties. Apologies are made, and the couple is now trying to resolve the conflict. And then after that, there is a period where they mend.
- Mending: How well the couple does in repairing will determine the length of the mending that goes on. The goal is to be understanding, empathic, and patient with your partner. Don’t put pressure on your partner and demand just because you said you’re sorry. Give that partner a chance to work it out emotionally. After the mending part, life is good again, and the cycle has been completed.
Are you tired of wasting time arguing? Recognize that this maybe is a cycle or a pattern of behavior, which is actually the first step to altering the pattern and then ultimately repairing it. You may not recognize that you’re in a conflict pattern. Maybe you’re saying things to yourself like “this isn’t what I signed up for” or “aren’t we better than this?” The Typical Conflict Cycle