As a therapist I often encounter couples in conflict and as a result, they have grown quite frustrated and weary.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone has conflict! Did I say “Everyone”?  Yes I did, but many couples are able to work through their differences and ultimately find resolution without wounding, scaring or devaluing one another.  By the way, when we “fight” “discuss”, “argue” we actually are investing in our relationship as long as we are not utilizing devaluing techniques in the process.  I often say to couples: “If you don’t “fight”, “argue” you are actually cheating yourselves out of the opportunity to creatively “challenge” and be “challenged”.  Without the ability to effectively challenge and be challenged couples will resign themselves to “mediocrity”  and worse yet, “resentment”.  So, what separates those couples who resolve from those that don’t?  I typically refer to the difference as the spirit of COOPERATION VS the CURSE of DIVISION.  The following is a list of characteristics most often found in couples who resolve;    CAUTION:  Look at the list as an opportunity to challenge yourself, NOT YOUR MATE. Please allow for him/her to self-evaluate.

   THE SPIRIT OF COOPERATION            VS.      THE CURSE OF DIVISION

A willingness to admit wrong doing:           VS.      A refusal to own mistakes

A willingness to forgive:                                 VS.      A tendency to hold a grudge

A willingness to maintain friendship:         VS.      A resistance to being close

A willingness to promote commitment:      VS.     A tendency to threaten commitment

A willingness to employ empathy:               VS.     A resistance to understanding

A willingness to create safety:                       VS.     A tendency to be toxic

A willingness to be other-focused:               VS.     A tendency to be too self-focused

A willingness to laugh and joke:                   VS.    A tendency to take self too seriously

These characteristics will not solve or eliminate the need for future discussions, but with these characteristics in place, you will be much more effective and efficient moving forward.

~ Gary Emery