Finding Hope Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15.31
Understanding the Emotional Drain No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame... Psalm 25.3
Doing the Math Positive vs. Negative Interactions Healthy relationships have a ratio of 5 positive to 1 negative interactions Unhealthy relationships have a ration of 1 positive to 5 negative interactions Couples on the brink of divorce have a ratio of 1 positive to 8 negative interactions
Being Aware of Critical Seasons Marriages tend to end - at 5-7 years due to high conflict, or at 10-12 years due to the loss of intimacy and connection. Obviously marriages can end at other times, but these are critical or high risk periods for most relationships.
Be more aware of your match than your style The conflict style of the partners (attackers, soothers, avoiders) matters less than the match between the couple: soothers overwhelm avoiders, and you get the distancer-pursuer dynamic where the first chases the second seeking some reaction while the second avoids the first to avoid being hounded soothers and attackers have little ability to influence each other, little positive sentiment, and a great deal of emotional tension avoiders and attackers are the worst pairing, showing severe distancer-pursuer patterns
Be more aware of your match than your style It is the compatibility of problem solving style between the two people rather than the style itself that is more predictive of failure. Compatibility can be enhanced if people can accept each other's differences and remain loving toward one another.
Being Aware that most conflicts are not solved, but managed. Both masters and disasters in relationships face chronic problems trying to solve problematic issues. The difference was that masters tended to find a way to deal with them to keep them in check, while disasters tended to constantly fight and feel gridlocked around what to do.
Being Aware of Perpetual & Solvable Problems Conflicts fall into just two categories: solvable and perpetual. Perpetual conflicts show up over and over again. They probably will never disappear from your relationship because they come from fundamental differences in personality or values. It is estimated 60% of all problems couples encounter are ultimately irresolvable.
Perpetual problems tend to represent deeper issues within a marriage. Characteristics: Perpetual – “I want another child.” “I want to raise our child as a Zen Buddhist.” Solvable – “You spend too much time with your girl-friends.” “You spend too much time watching premier league.” “You work all the time.” “You don’t clean up after yourself”
Road to Repair Ultimately, it's the quality of the dialogue, not the seeming seriousness of the problem itself, that will predict the success of the relationship. Does the relationship have the ability to "dialogue with perpetual problems"? Do we comfort each other’s experiences of frustration? Do we accept that there are some things that may never be perfect but know that we can keep trying anyway? Do we have enough good emotion in the account to get us through?
2 Examples: Attraction & Power Attraction is more related to what's in the emotional bank account than to physical appearance. When loss of attraction or change in physical appearance is used as an excuse for divorce or constant criticisms, it is more indicative that the person doing the criticising is having self-esteem or identity issues. It is the nature of the friendship, more than the frequency of sexual relations, that gets people through in the long run. There are many ways for couples to share power that do not necessarily correspond to absolute equality in all areas. What is more important is that each partner have equal influence on the other.
Negative Filter This means that there is a negative filter that screens out the few positive events that exist, and may cause the couple to “rewrite” their history together. Positive Filter This means that there is a positive filter that alters how couples remember past events and view new issues.
When partners feel trusting of one another, they tend to hear each other's suggestions and complaints non- defensively. There doesn't have to be agreement on the issue, just willingness to talk about the differences. Statements judged neutral or negative by observers can be interpreted positively by a partner with a couples history of respectful conflict (Positive Filter) just as statements judged neutral or positive by observers can be interpreted as negative by a partner with a couples history disrespectful conflict (Negative Filter).
You cannot confront negative interactions and filters. Relationships that have a long history of failed attempts to repair their connection are too fragile. Rather, you have to build the infrastructure for positive interactions and filters first, and slowly shift to building it further.
Repair Attempts How to exit an argument or recover after a fight and repair the relationship. Remember over 60% of marital problems are not solved, but managed.
Recognize Repair Attempts Slow down, create mutually agreed space (20-30 minutes). Effective repair is easier to accomplish when there are Rituals of Connection, or standard and every-day ways the couple connects and feels bonded to each other.
Harsh vs. Soft Startup Softened Startups is a non-accusatory, tactful ways to bring up a problem. Note: Women are more likely to begin with Harsh Startups, while men are more likely to become Flooded and Stonewall, and to rehearse stress-inducing thoughts.
Turn Towards the Other This is a bid for affection or efforts to connect through a shared joke, a quick kiss, or a quiet smile that is returned.
Acceptance of Influence This is so partners (typically men) can accept the desires and wishes of their partners (typically women).
Knowledge of the other can create unity Example: Newlywed studies show that 67% of couples experience a huge drop in marital satisfaction when they first become parents. The percentage that did not experience this drop were those who had a habit of being “kept up to date” – that is they were intently aware of what each other was thinking and feeling.