Often times, in relationships, people find themselves in Eggerich's "Crazy Cycle". With all of the books, websites, workshops, and reality shows about communicating with your partner, resolving conflicts peacefully, and expressing love towards one another, sometimes it's just a pattern for couples to continue all of the unhealthy patterns that start up fights. There are some couples who have gained a skill set to help them break the pattern, and they have come to realize three things:
We’re all in the same boat
Relationships are hard for even the most laid-back of people. Many of the common causes of fights in relationships are well-know, like money, raising children, and time. But there are also common unhealthy thoughts that lead to conflicts in relationships, like “He is supposed to…”, or “She never…” or “He always…”
Underneath many conflicts lies fear
When couples come in for counseling, there is usually a great deal of fear that has led them there. Some are afraid of failure, of losing everything, or of being disrespected. Others are afraid of not feeling loved, of feeling like they’re “settling”, or of having their feelings trampled on. When there are high levels of fear, the fight or flight instinct kicks in, and couples go to defense mechanisms that make it very hard for couples to get off of the cycle of fighting long enough to resolve conflicts effectively.
Behind a lot of anger is a simple request
Many times, the frustration that leads to anger and conflict comes from someone feeling like they are not getting what they need in the relationship, and the thing they are needing is many times something that they’re partner would gladly give them. But the request is lost in translation when it is yelled or when it comes from a defensive place of accusing the other person of being the problem. In defensive times like this, the request is not delivered properly, nor is it received well.
What couples should do
Couples can gradually learn to break the cycle of conflict by realizing that we’re all in the same boat. Talk to other couples together and find an older couple who can mentor the relationship. Next, talk together calmly about any fears that are at play in the relationship. Then, make a list of requests each person has and circle the one thing the other person could do that would address one or more of your fears. This process is not easy and it does not go quickly. If your relationship has reached a point of great frustration and conflict, seek a professional counselor to work with you to learn to resolve conflicts, uncover fears and address unmet needs.