Can’t figure out why you keep having the same arguments? Read on …
September will always be back-to-school season in my mind––the sadness of summer ending, the excitement of seeing old friends again. All of those memories from childhood are good to hold onto. Some things from childhood are best left behind, however, such as childhood wounds. They represent a heavy book bag that weighs you down even in adulthood—and they can bring your relationship down, too. Here is an interesting blog I just discovered on on memory as well.
In my decades as a marriage and family therapist, I have encountered innumerable couples and individuals whose emotional baggage from childhood harms their current relationship. They can’t figure out why they keep having the same arguments or why little annoyances erupt into huge fights. In our sessions, I often find that the solution is something I call “reality testing.”
Reality testing is just what it sounds like—testing how real the fight, and your feelings, are. Reality testing breaks down into three steps:
1. Identify your real feelings.
Anger almost always covers up truer, deeper feelings. You feel angry when your partner RSVPs you for a party you hadn’t yet agreed to go too, or when he or she tells you they like you in blue when you’re wearing a green shirt. You must look past the initial angry feeling and consider whether or not there’s another emotion bubbling up as well.
You don’t feel angry because of the RSVP; you feel like your partner is trying to control you. You don’t feel angry because your partner said you look good in blue; you’re scared your partner doesn’t like the way you look right now. If you let yourself really delve into your feelings, you’ll discover there’s more there. That other emotion is the real feeling.
2. Assess their truth value.