As I listen to people in my office I hear every imaginable thing. People express their concerns, fears, anxieties, sadness, angers, guilts, hopes and dreams. I listen well, express empathy, and begin the process of moving forward to solutions for these presenting concerns. Some therapeutic beginnings are more difficult than others. These are the ones that begin with couples sharing their “down n dirty” fights. The hateful emotion and residual bitterness is hard to stomach. Mutual disrespect, resentment, and lack of support are the results. But, such is the life of many couples who either should not be married or need to learn better skills to avoid such toxic encounters.
Bibi Deitz wrote and interesting blog on this topic listing seven toxic fights that couples have. I will list them and comment on each for your education and edification- if so warranted.
- Sex: Are you surprised? Sex is so emotionally loaded. Want to do it, when to do it, how to do it, etc… can lead to hurt feelings, rejection, anger. Thus, words or exaggerated behaviors may result creating a toxic encounter.
- Money: Excess spending, anal control, fiscal infidelity, lack of transparency all are factors raising the temperature gauge leading to toxic encounter.
- Mudslinging Fight: This is when some trigger situation opens up some extreme put downs. Favorite target areas to disparage are looks, weight, and intelligence. Mean spirited name calling is ugly and creates another toxic encounter.
- Partner’s Family: The rule of thumb here is that a person can talk trash about his/her family but the partner cannot. People can get very protective, sometimes irrationally, about their family. Can be weird.
- Control Partner: One partner continually badgers and harasses the other into behavior or activity that is wanted by that person. At some point the dam breaks and the harassed one blows up and escalated rhetoric results in another toxic encounter.
- Household Chores: Who does what (the dishes), and how (the “right way” to load the dishwasher), and when (the next day?) are frequent disagreements. Is the division of labor “fair”? Is score keeping going on? Household chores frequently lead to toxic encounters.
- Have Nothing To Do With Situation At Hand: These are build up explosions emanating from stale resentments that burst forth out of the blue. These outbursts certainly can lead to another toxic encounter.
Well, Respected Reader, any of these occur in your household? How about some others that are not mentioned here?
It’s tough to re-connect after one of these toxic encounters. Avoid if at all possible. Bruised feelings and egos can take time to recover and get on path toward re-kindled love. But it is worth the try!
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates