Why Do We Keep Having the Same Fight?  Breaking Out of Toxic Communication Cycles

Share article:

2 min read

I remember the first couple I saw for therapy. As a newbie to couples work, my first instinct was always to jump in right away and try to cool things off when they argued.

   When two partners get into a negative dance with each other, it can take on a life of its own and knowing how to press the stop button isn’t always obvious.

-Lifespark

But at the urging of my supervisor at the time, I walked in one day and let them just go at it without any refereeing from me. Instead of jumping in, I simply sat back for a few minutes and tried to listen and watch what was happening.

What I noticed was that the words from one spouse seemed to trigger an almost automatic response from the other, which in turn set their spouse off even more, almost like a chain reaction. It was as though they were locked in some kind of sadistic cycle and couldn’t get out of it.

But I came to learn that this insight was hardly a novel one. In fact, one of the central tenets of most forms of marital and family therapy is that couples and families often operate as systems, with each part (or person) having an impact on the whole.

When two partners get into a negative dance with each other, it can take on a life of its own and knowing how to press the stop button isn’t always obvious.

Just stepping back for a moment and trying to observe and describe the cycle, as though you were a scientist who could care less which one of you is wrong or right, can be a very useful exercise.

One specific technique for identifying and changing problematic communication cycles involves sketching out the conflict between two conversational partners into what is called a bow tie diagram. 

If you would like to try one of these for yourself, log “10 Step Plan for Breaking out of Toxic Communication Cycles” using a bow tie diagram.

EXCLUSIVE: 10 Step Plan for Breaking out of Toxic Communication Cycles

 

You can also watch our video to learn more about how these diagrams can be used as a tool to undercut conflict at its knees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share your reactions to this piece in the comments box. What fight do you keep having in your relationship? What have you learned about this cycle and how to stop it from happening over and over again? 

 

Further Reading:

 
Price: $14.93
Was: $17.95
Price: $9.59
Was: $15.99
 
 

 

 

Lifespark wants to know: Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *