Sunday, June 13, 2021

Helping couples to reconnect when disconnected, rather than the fight or flight responses

One common pattern I see in couples is when their relationship is in chronic distress, one tends to “fight and demand or defend”, while the other one tends to “flight, freeze or avoid with resentment”.

Of course this will often lead to a bad outcome with significant impact on their biopsychosocial health.

Professor John Gottman describes the 4 red flags of a failing relationship.

1. Being critical
2. Being defensive
3. Stonewalling
4. Showing contempt towards each other

We can simply see the above symptoms as the “fight, flight or freeze” response.

Although the above dynamics can lead to a point of “hopelessness”, this point of crisis can serve as a great pivot for change. Without assistance, these families can escalate to danger point. Prevention is better than cure.

We can assist these couples to align their goals again and reconnect. The “fighter” softens, and the “flighter” re-engages, both with values around love, care and courage, rather than fear, anger and resentment.

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