Redeemer Counseling Newsletter
Most couples need help dealing with moments of escalated conflict within their relationship. When fights get out of control, each can start to feel misunderstood, get increasingly tense, or begin to circle the same argument over and over. As caregivers, we can play an important role in helping them deal with the tension better and learn to communicate in healthy ways.
Proverbs 14:29 says, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” This biblical principle can help you counsel couples in difficult moments. Years ago, the marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman observed hundreds of couples interacting and concluded that when an individual’s heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute, the two cannot have a productive conversation. More recent developments in neuroscience and brain imaging support this finding. The logical, self-controlled thinking part of the brain goes off-line when someone’s emotions are heightened, triggering “fight or flight” mode as the body perceives imminent danger. When this happens in conflict, productive conversation ceases, leading to increasingly hurtful interactions that play off each other. Resolving the conflict becomes harder and harder.
Though there’s great value in Time-Outs, couples need some training on how to use them well and make them effective. Teaching couples what to do during the Time-Out can help them slow down, process their own feelings, and look to God for help. This can soften their hearts, re-engage their whole brain, help them extend grace to each other, and resume the conversation in a more productive way
Linda Foran holds a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Alliance Graduate School of Counseling, and is licensed by the State of New York. She also is an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists Approved Supervisor. Linda counsels couples and individuals struggling with issues including anxiety, conflict resolution, infidelity, trauma, grief and loss.
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