Some marriages get stuck in a brutal cycle of blaming and defensiveness.
Blaming and defensiveness happens because of “symbiosis”, a state of living together as if you are one.
It’s a place where you and your partner can only see your own reality but not the reality of your partner.
It’s the inability to see your partner as an “other” person.
The result of symbiosis is self-absorption and conflict. That’s when all the blaming and defensiveness begins and often becomes a destructive cycle.
In this brief video…
I talk about why this happens and how to break out of this painful place.
WATCH IT with your partner and then DISCUSS IT together using the questions below.
How to break the cycle of blaming and defensiveness
Discuss with your partner:
- Describe your own version of the blaming and defensiveness cycle.
(Some couples share feelings openly, others “walk on eggshells” to avoid a conflict. Either way there is probably some defensiveness and resentment going on that you should talk about. An example of walking on eggshells would be: SHE: “I want to talk to him about his leaving dirty dishes in the sink but I’m afraid he’ll be defensive.” HE: “Every time she mentions things like that I feel like nothing I ever do is good enough so I defend myself and then blame her for being obsessive.” Now describe your own version of the cycle.)
- How is your conflict the result of “symbiosis” as described in the video?
- Differentiation by definition is seeing your partner as different from you but valid in their own view of reality. How can the Couple’s Dialogue process (that the couple with the “dishwasher conflict” used) help you achieve differentiation in your relationship?
To go further…
Click on the link and print out two copies of The Couple’s Dialogue and follow the steps of mirroring, validation and empathy.
The validation step facilitates differentiation and dissolves symbiosis. The empathy step facilitates reconnection at an even deeper level than before.
When doing the couples dialogue to share a frustration, always remember to begin with an “appreciation” (as directed on the sheet).
And if you haven’t already…