Marriage Problems: Fighting Fairly With Reflective Listening for Increased Emotional Intimacy

What are the skills needed to tolerate, digest, and move through feelings when you are fighting with your partner?  In this article you can learn how to not react to your partner by seeing your body as a container of well being.  Next, learn to see you partner as just doing what they do at times.  Lastly, keep your desire levels high, even when there’s normal tension in the relationship.

Your body can be a container of well being. Sit up, both feet on the floor, eyes open, and breathe deeply in to your belly.   These simple techniques can help you calm yourself, and be grounded in your body, so you can tolerate it when your partner is “going off”.  Be your best friend in these troubled moments, remember that you have gotten through them in the past, and there is no need to escalate, since you like your self.

See your partner as human, doing what they do sometimes.  Are they having a bad day, have low blood sugar, or did they just receive bad news?   While breathing and grounding, repeat back what they are saying WITHOUT TAKING IT ON.   Develop curiosity about what is going on for them instead of automatically taking what they say personally.   This is not always easy to do, but worth practicing, and you can try it with easy topics first.  In calmer times, talk about this “reflective listening” technique, so that both of you know one person can practice it to tone down an argument when it starts to escalate.

Lastly, why give up your normal desire for sexual expression just because your partner is having a bad day?   Stay in touch with your interest in being sexual and see what happens later on in the day, evening, or even the next day, when the fighting has stopped.  You can learn to base your sexual expression on how YOU are inside, and not just based on what kind of attention is coming from your partner.

There’s tremendous power in calming and loving your self through deep, meditative breathing, turning your attention towards your own loving heart, especially when a fight has begun.   During interaction, reflect back or mirror what your partner is saying. They feel heard, and since you’ve discussed this technique, they could calm down and be open for you to talk next, while they listen and reflect back to you what you’re saying.   Fights don’t have to go on “auto pilot” with this tool, or escalate so much, so you are freer to experience the good vibes of your sexual relationship sooner by fighting fairly.



Jim Bowen MA LPC has been assisting individuals and couples since 1992, with offices in Boulder and Denver. Contact Jim with email or call him at 303-534-8717. Why not call for a free consultation?