Stop Repeating the Same Arguments

7 Steps to Understanding Counterfeit Conflicts

(Ground rule: Keep the focus on yourself and do not blame your partner.)

1. Notice that it is a repetitive argument and acknowledge this to each other. Agree you want to do something different.

2. Ask yourself, "How old do I feel in this argument? Very young? Adolescent?" Tell your partner about this.

3. Ask yourself, "What are we really arguing about?" Explore this with your partner. Usually, there's an undercurrent of not feeling loved, valued, noticed, or respected that needs to be addressed.

4. Tune in to your feelings and peel them back to see if there's another one underneath. Keep peeling back until you reach a place that feels very real to you. This may take practice. Tell your partner about your experience with this. When a person can say, "I feel lonely when you spend so much time away," rather than, "You are so insensitive to my needs," we take the conversation to a quieter, deeper level of vulnerability. It is from this place that people usually can hear each other.

5. Become aware of what you are truly wanting and needing from your partner, and let him know.

6. Talk about whatever you are willing to do in response to your partner's request. Make a concrete plan; don't use vague language such as: "I'll help you around the house" or "I'll respect you more." Spell it out. "I'll vacuum Monday night when you're out." "I'll shop and cook on Saturday." "I promise to stop calling you lazy or clumsy when I'm frustrated."

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