Thursday, April 10, 2014

Patterns of Conflict

Patterns of Conflict and Arguments
Patterns of conflict in relationships often emerge when couples repeatedly argue about certain topics. As a couple argues repeatedly, communication is broken down, preventing constructive conflict resolution. This leads to the development of poisonous patterns of hurtful or unproductive behavior. There are four main behaviors that couples engage in that can lead to conflict in their relationship. These behaviors are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.  
Criticism, in this case, is described as attacking your partner’s personality, rather than their behavior. While airing a complaint can be a healthy relationship activity, criticism is a personal attack that can lead to a breakdown in communication. Contempt is a behavior that often follows directly from criticism. Contempt is similar to criticism, except that contempt implies one partner’s intent to insult or psychologically abuse the other. It is usually expressed through snide or antagonistic remarks, a mocking attitude and hostile humor.
The third common relationship problem is defensiveness, which is what emerges when both partners feel victimized by the each other. It often becomes a reflex and prevents conflicts from being resolved. After defensiveness, there is stonewalling, which appears when relationships are in serious decline. This behavior occurs when one partner or both stop responding to each other, even to act defensively.
With the help of Dr. Marji Prefontaine, you can find how certain common behavioral problems are leading to a pattern of conflict in your relationship. At the Relationship Center of Albuquerque we offer couples counseling that can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and strengthen the bonds of your relationship. Call 505-821-1948 to schedule a therapy session. For more information, visit

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