COUPLES

Couples Therapy – Helps Break the Fight Cycle and Restore Connection

A fight cycle might look like: “If they would just not get so emotional and critical, we would get somewhere” | “Well, if they would talk more and not just shut down, we would get somewhere.”  We need to feel connected, yet our fight cycles disconnect us and push us farther apart. Our loved one (partner, parent, sibling, or close friend) can be our shelter in life. According to Dr. Sue Johnson, when this person is unavailable and unresponsive, we are assailed by a tsunami of emotions — sadness, anger, hurt and above all, fear.

Fight Cycle

This fear is wired in. Being able to rely on a loved one, to know that they will answer our call is our innate survival code. Research is clear, when we sense that a primary love relationship is threatened, we go into a primal  panic.

Couples therapy helps you find a way out of the cycle and into deeper, more meaningful communications and ways of relating to each other.

If “Violent” means acting in ways that result in hurt or harm, then much of how we communicate could be called “violent”

Dr Marshall Rosenberg wrote that language and communication skills that

strengthen our ability to remain human,

even under trying conditions, is the basis for transforming our relationships,

and of course, our lives.

 

 

Words are Windows, by Ruth Bebermeyer

I feel so sentenced by your words,

I feel so judged and sent away,

Before I go I’ve got to know

Is that what you meant to say?

 

Before I rise to my defense,

Before I speak in hurt or fear,

Before I build a wall of word,

Tell me, did I really hear?

 

Words are windows, or they can be walls,

They sentence us, or set us free.

When I speak and when I hear,

Let the love light shine through me.

 

There are things I need to say,

Things that mean so much to me,

If my words don’t make me clear,

Will you help me to be free?

 

If I seemed to put you down,

If you felt I didn’t care,

Try to listen through my words,

To the Feelings that we share.

Couples: Does the same argument keep happening?

imagesWhen couples argue about issues like household duties, child-rearing, sex or money, the origins of these arguments are often some form of protest from one partner about not feeling connected, not trusting, or not feeling safe or secure with the other partner. When those we are attached to are not available, or are not responding to our needs to feel close or supported, we feel distressed. We may become angry or demanding, anxious or fearful, numb or distant.

These behaviors can become habitual modes of reacting to our partners which goes on in negative cycles causing  pain, injury and despair. Couples often come into therapy feeling defeated and wondering if their relationship might be irreparable. However, couples therapy focuses on these patterns (or cycles) and aims to  change these negative interaction cycles into positive ones in a non-judgmental empathetic environment. Gradually, couples begin to recognize and eventually express their needs for love, support, protection and comfort that are often hidden or disguised by the harsh words used in arguments with each other.

Once feelings of connection are re-established, couples are better able to manage conflict and the painful feelings that will inevitably arise from time to time in a close relationship

Narcissist’s Verbally Abusive Tactics

Verbal abuse is a favorite tactic of narcissists. It very quickly intimidates the target while simultaneously establishing their dominance and superiority. The attack usually catches the target off-guard thus assuring victory. All of this is done to gain control and manipulate a person into doing something.

The pattern is similar whether the narcissist is a spouse, parent, employer, coach, manager, or preacher. It first begins in secret, is infrequent, is mild in tone with minimal use of abusive language, and sometimes is followed by a shallow apology. Then it escalates to public humiliation, is more frequent, shifts blame to the victim, and is excessive in tone while denying abusive words.

Narcissists use the volume and tone of their voice to subconsciously establish dominance. They do this through two extremes. One way is to increase the volume by yelling, screaming, and raging. The second is equally effective through complete silence, ignoring, and refusing to respond. Their tone reiterates the abusiveness by combining petulance and pompousness.
Words have meaning beyond their definition.

For a narcissist, words are used to instill fear, intimidate, manipulate, oppress and constrain. Swearing and threatening language comes easily to the narcissist when the person refuses to do what they want. But if the victim tries to use the same method, the narcissistic verbal assault will amplify.

The manner of a narcissist’s speech is argumentative, competitive, sarcastic and demanding. They will frequently interrupt, talk over a person, withhold key information, bully and interrogate. Many times the verbal assault will be so rapid that the victim does not have the time or energy to fight point by point. This is precisely what they want.

Mixed in with the assault will be personal attacks such as name calling, mocking responses, defaming character, berating feelings, and judging opinions. To further add to the confusion, the narcissist will mix some truth with a lot of criticism. This condemning tactic leaves the victim feeling inferior and defeated.

A narcissist will do anything to avoid embarrassment, including going on the defensive over minor infractions by blocking and diverting casual remarks. Their self-inflated perception is so skewed that they frequently accuse the victim of making them look bad. When they perceive an attack, they refuse to take responsibility, become hostile, invalidate or dismiss feelings, lie, and conveniently forget promises or commitments.

Narcissists are masters at the blame game; anything that goes wrong is the other person’s fault. They accuse the victim of being too sensitive, are overly critical of other’s reactions, “one-up” feelings and oppose opinions. In essence, the victim is to blame for the negative condition in which they find themselves.

Typical sayings include: “I’m critical for your own good,” “I was only joking when I said that…,” “If only you would…, then I won’t have to be this way,” “You don’t know how to take a joke,” “The problem with you is…,” and “That (verbal abuse) didn’t really happen.”

As a result of the verbal abuse, the victim feels they can’t ever win, are always in the wrong, have a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, constantly walk on eggshells, are fearful of their response, and are embarrassed by their behavior.

Verbal abuse is real and can leave a person confused and frustrated. If you are suffering from being in a relationship with a narcissist, there is a good chance therapy may help you learn coping skills and about creating healthy boundaries.