Sharon and Bill fought a lot about money, children and household chores. The disagreements always began with Sharon’s request in what she thought was a friendly tone but Bill heard as a nagging tone. Bill’s response was generally a defensive one, complaining about her tone or the fact that she was always nagging him. Bill then often withdrew by leaving the house or turning on the television and Sharon became more angry, often following after him in an attempt to talk about the problem or come up with a solution.

Andy and Sue had a different dance. One of the frequent issues for them was intimacy. Sue was more interested in intimacy and sex than Andy. She would light candles, send text messages, schedule dates, only to find that Andy was not interested, busy, too tired or would say that he just did not feel “in the mood”. Sue would then feel hurt and disappointed and then angry.

Most couples are just like these two. They find that their dance around a disagreement seems to have the same steps over and over again. It starts out the same way and often ends the same way with one or both partners feeling hurt, disappointed, discounted or angry.

If Sharon and Bill and Andy and Sue want to find a way to change this dance, they each have to find ways to recognize their own steps and change them.

For most people, it is hard to recognize your own “mistakes” and find new steps to the dance, and yet, that is the quickest way to resolution. It is much better to find ways to change yourself rather than trying to change another person. When one person changes, others do change in response.

Pay attention to your own last argument with your partner. Can you describe your “dance”? What about your own steps? Do you find that you are trying the same thing over and over again ? Are you getting the same results? It may be time to try something different.

If you are having trouble figuring out what your step might be … or a different way to dance, contact us at Counseling Relationships Online. We provide in-person and on-line therapy to help couples understand their dance and change their steps.

Author's Bio: 

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT has been practicing family therapy for over 30 years. She has taught coursework in couple and family therapy for the University of Louisville and The Louisville Seminary. Sally and her husband, family therapist John Turner, have presented workshops, seminars and retreats for couples and singles with a focus on finding and maintaining healthy relationships.

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