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  • Tim Mallory

High Conflict Couple’s Counseling

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results.”

– Albert Einstein

As a therapist, I rarely deal with absolutes. However, I am comfortable in saying ALL couples do (or will) experience conflict. In fact, never experiencing conflict should serve as a warning sign of unaddressed issues simmering below the surface. Conflict in romantic relationships is normal and expected, but there comes a point where the frequency and/or intensity become too much to bear. Couples argue with increased intensity and frequency because both sides are trying and failing to be heard. My goal and passion is helping partners rebuild their romantic partnership by helping both sides feel heard and move forward together.

High Conflict Couples

Conflict takes many forms. It may take the form of explosions, shouting matches and name-calling. It may look like the silent treatment and passive-aggressive words and deeds. It may look like some combination of the two. “High Conflict Couples” are couples whose arguments are high in frequency (number of fights/week or month) and/or intensity (screaming, cursing, broken objects). Regardless, conflict in a relationship is specific to the couple, and it tends to follow a pattern. Over time, the pattern grows more obvious but somehow harder to avoid. The points and counterpoints become predictable, so the argument gets louder, angrier, and meaner. A line is eventually crossed, apologies are made, and it ends (until the next one). Someone won; someone lost.

The distance between two people grows just a little longer. This is not what anyone signed up for. Things were supposed to be different.

Hollywood shows how a relationship is supposed to start, and the credits roll before the two main characters have their first fight as a real couple. We all have an idea of what the beginning of a relationship is “supposed to” look like, but we are generally unequipped with models for maintaining a healthy relationship. Not having a role model in this area is not your fault.

Relationships are not for the faint-of-heart, and vulnerability can be frightening. Authenticity can be painful. Years of built trust can be destroyed in a moment. But trust can be rebuilt with time and effort.

I specialize in High Conflict Couples because I sincerely believe that so long as two people are willing to sit in my office, there is still an opportunity for resolution. I believe so long as two people can sit in a room together, an understanding can be reached. Over time, that understanding can turn into appreciation. Appreciation can become affection. Affection can turn into love.

What can be done?

1. Fix your focus. An argument does not have to become a “fight” with a winner and loser. Instead, when an argument is viewed as an opportunity to come together and solve a problem, trust grows. You two against the world, just like it was when you first started dating.

2. Instead of saying what your partner is doing wrong, say what you feel and need. For example: “I feel [x], and I need [x].” Negotiating ways to fulfill your specific needs is far easier than defending personal attacks.

3. Talk to someone, be it a friend whose relationship you admire, or a therapist who is passionate about helping you and your goals.

If you are stuck in a high-conflict loop, I would love to help you build new patterns and move your partnership forward.

To book an appointment with Tim, you can schedule online here.

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