Tame Your Relationship Conflict Cycle with EFT Couple Therapy

Have you ever noticed that when there is conflict—or stalemate—in your relationship, it feels like you are stuck in a déjà vu cycle? You’ve experienced this before. The same argument, tense silence, or hurt feelings happen again and again. You don’t like getting sucked into the same conflict over and over, but it seems hard to break the cycle. You want the closeness you once had, and you’d like things to get back to normal so you can enjoy each other again. You’d like to know how to tame your relationship conflict cycle, but you’re confused about why you can’t.

Understand Your Relationship Conflict Cycle

Well, I have some good news, and some bad news. First, the good news. Although falling into that predictable cycle of conflict in your relationship isn’t any fun, there are actually some predictable—even good—reasons why it happens. The patterns we fall into with the important people in our lives occur because we are all trying to get our relational needs met. Most couples would like to get back to closeness and normalcy, and they’re usually trying pretty hard to get there. Unfortunately, they’ve fallen into patterns that just aren’t working anymore, and what one person is trying is actually driving the other person away or causing the other person to dig in even harder (and vice versa). So, the good news is that these patterns are understandable (with some help), and can be changed to restore closeness.

So, what’s the bad news? The bad news is that if you’ve been stuck in a stressful or hurtful relationship conflict cycle for awhile, there might be a lot of damage to repair. The cycle might have caused one person to completely shut down, or the other person to get really frantic in their attempts to hash things out. You might feel really hurt and wonder if your relationship can ever be restored to what it once was.

EFT Couple Therapy Can Help Tame Your Relationship Conflict Cycle

In the wonderful video above, my colleague, Sharon Mead, LMFT, illustrates just how the cycle can get started, and what each person is usually trying to achieve with their own style of communication or conflict. To be sure, these strategies to get relationship needs met often become painful and damaging to both parties. But, once you understand that both of you are trying to get your needs met—even if the methods aren’t working—then you can notice what’s happening and slow it all down to see what is really needed. In EFT Couple Therapy, we call this de-escalating the cycle.

A skilled EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) couple therapist can help you de-escalate your cycle of conflict, understand your own needs and those of your spouse, and find new ways to turn towards each other in ways that create interpersonal safety rather than pushing each other’s buttons. Once you’re feeling close and safe again with each other, it becomes so much easier to then work through any specific issues you might be having trouble working out.

Watch the video and see if you can spot your own relationship cycle.

For some couples, the cycle gets loud and argumentative. These couples can experience a volatile relationship cycle. For others, it looks more like a slow shutting down of real communication and closeness, even if there aren’t actual arguments. For these couples, their marriage can start to feel more like a roommate relationship, where each person walks on eggshells a little bit and important issues just never get brought up again.

No matter how your particular relationship conflict cycle shows up, just know that there are logical reasons for why your cycle appears the way it does, and EFT Couple Therapy could be the answer to restoring the closeness and happiness you long for.

This video, Taming the Cycle: a Tale from EFT Couple Therapy, is used with express permission by its creator, Sharon Mead, LMFT.