Negotiation is an art and requires certain skills to be effective, productive and respectful. It is most often that couples begin to negotiate their differences based on their emotional responses to the situation and each other, it is then that the negotiation becomes a conflict. It is, however, the intensity, frequency and length of the conflict that indicates whether the relationship is healthy or not. It is equally unhealthy to never have a conflict. This may be an indication of repressed feelings, negative experience of conflicts in the family, low self-esteem or dependency issues.
Conflict in itself is neither good or bad, it is a regular occurrence between the two or more people. However, it is what you do with it that matters. Leaving it unattended, ignored or unresolved would most likely lead to long-term estrangement and a lack of intimacy between the two partners. Conversely, choosing to learn from your difficulties will transform your conflict into an opportunity for growth for you personally and as a couple.
Relationship and couples’ therapy can help the individual or a couple to reflect on the patterns, triggers and circular dynamics that take place in your conflict. Psychotherapy will help you understand the root cause of your difficulties without assigning blame to any party. You will be able to learn alternative ways of communication and practice it in the room with your therapist or your partner, if you choose to come for therapy together. Your therapist will model or assist you in your negotiation to ensure that each party is heard, understood and your relationship objectives are met.
Cognitive behavioural therapy will help you to develop a strong set of skills needed for successful negotiation, these include goal-setting, problem-solving, addressing stressors in your life, mindfulness, emotional regulation including anger management, addressing your information processing patterns and possible rigid beliefs that often lead to such unhealthy responses to conflict as:
- The Inability or unwillingness to recognize the problem
- Emotionally intense response
- Physical or emotional withdrawal
- Inability to empathise
- Unwillingness to compromise
- Avoiding the conflict
And learn to substitute those for healthier responses, such as:
- Learning to listen and express yourself accurately
- Learning to understand your own needs and those of your partner
- Staying calm throughout the conflict
- Learning to stay with difficulties until they are resolved
- Being compassionate and forgive towards yourself and your partner.
- Learn to understand reactions of your partner.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy may be suggested if there is a history of trauma or if the current relationship is in crises. Psychotherapy will allow you to take your time to reflect on the origins of your current reactions to your partner and other people. You may experience similar or opposite reactions towards your therapist as you progress through the therapy. This could be an opportunity to reflect on the pattern that is evolving in the safe space of a consulting room. Your therapist may give you an honest feedback about your behaviour and attitude should you wish so and suggest some alternatives. With the help of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, you will be able to reflect on how the background of your partner may be influencing their reactions towards you and other people. Within the consulting room, you will be learning all the essential communication and emotional regulation skills experientially, and express yourself fully and honestly. You will be able to reflect on the kind of relationship you would like to have; what intimacy means to you and to your partner and ways you could build it. Taking time to gradually understand yourself is the invaluable investment into various relationships and yourself.
If you would like immediate access to the information and skill building modules or are pressed for time in any way, you are welcome to enrol into the Relationship course (hyperlink) that will give you full instant access to the multitude of training modules to ensure that your relationship gets back on track as soon as possible. You are welcome to share the course with your partner and work together towards a better relationship. You may want to alternate the online course with the therapy, it is entirely up to you.