When we experience a conflict in our couple relationships, we usually feel negative emotions such as sadness, frustration, anger, fear, and resentment. The relationship no longer feels like a safe place so react on automatic pilot with what are often called our reptilian brain or survival mechanisms.
1. Fight: you can react through verbal or physical aggression, such as raising voices, swearing or blaming – couples often say things they don’t even think, just to hurt or prove their point.
2. Flight: you might exit the situation to avoid conflict and take shelter into work, sports, walks or in talking to a friend. Alcohol and drug abuse and binge eating can also represent a way to avoid the conflict by becoming numb.
3. Freeze: you might stare through your partner’s response, feeling frozen.
We all learn our way/ways of reaction to conflicts during childhood and we still use the same behaviours in the relationship with our partner; we will often have a predominant type of response.
Raising awareness on these behaviours is the first step in order to change and deal with conflicts in a different, more constructive way.
Couple therapy as well as individual therapy can help you understand not just how you react to conflicts, but also how you can change the instinctive and automatic reactions into reflective ones.
Through therapy you will learn how to use more evolved parts of your brain, so not to be guided by the reptilian brain every time you have an argument with your partner. You will be able to create emotional safety within the couple and feel more connected to your partner.