Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do You Feel Like It Is Groundhog Day?

Remember that 1993 movie with Bill Murray, where he keeps waking up and the day keeps repeating itself? If you are stuck in a vicious cycle, it is normal to feel like you are starring in Groundhog Day. While the topic you may be arguing about is different, the same fight is going replay itself because the core issue remains unresolved.  Here is an example:

Day 1- you fight about the dishes in the sink.
Day 2- you argue about the clothes not in the hamper.
Day 3- you have a fit about the trash not being taken out.
Day 4- you get upset because there is not a single sweet text message sent.
Day 5- you get fired up when you find someone forgot to pay a bill, or pick up the dry-cleaning, etc.

By Day 6 you are in big trouble for one very simple reason-- for a relationship to be happy and healthy you need 5 positive interactions to one negative, yet in this scenario you have had 5 straight days of blow ups.  You don't have to be math genius to figure out the odds are now stacked against you, unless you can find a way to reboot.

To break away from a series of bad-spells, you may actually need to get away, maybe spend a day apart and do something you enjoy on your own.  You can vent to someone you trust if you need to, with the goal being to purge the negative energy.  Then, maybe try to get away together-- even if it is just a romantic dinner, a concert, movie, day hike-- whatever helps remind you of the love you share and the bond you have created over time.

Building on the positive energy, when you return to your normal routine, it is important to gently start to tackle the real issue that is haunting your relationship.  Brace yourself, because repair work is not easy.  You will need good communication skills and insight in order to work through rough patches in a relationship.  We all have them, but at the end of the day if you are committed to understanding one another and finding solutions together, you should be able to get past the bumps in the road.

At the end of the day, the issues that upset us the most are pretty easy to identify-- we all want our partner's empathy, attention and respect.  Bill Eddy suggests we remember this as "EAR."  With this in mind, go back to the fights about the dishes, the clothes, the trash or other chores and you can see that the real issue is about a lack of respect or consideration.  And it is human nature that when someone insults you, you become far less inclined to be nice to them-- you will either fight or flee, argue or shut down.  We have all been there, but unless you want to continue starring in your own version of Groundhog Day, you and your partner are going to have to find a way (together) to break the vicious cycle.

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