Couples: How to Regulate Yourself During Difficult Conversations

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Sharing your life with someone means having open and honest conversations, even when those conversations are a bit difficult. But that’s easier said than done. Understanding how to regulate yourself during difficult conversations can be extremely tough.


During hard conversations, it’s common for many people to become triggered by something their partner has said. Calm one moment, but the next they’re thrown into “fight or flight” mode, their brain-sensing danger. Before they know it, the most primitive part of their brain is activated in an effort to help them survive. And this is when things can get ugly. Because it’s fairly impossible to speak calmly and rationally when your entire body is in survival mode.


It is not always best to rely on our instinctual way of responding to.  Luckily there are things we can do during difficult conversations to regulate our emotional responses and keep ourselves calm and level-headed.


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Before You React, Pause and Breathe

As soon as you start to feel triggered, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. While deep breathing may seem like a cliche, it is actually a very powerful tool that helps us get out of “fight or flight” mode and into a more relaxed state, especially when we become angry or get upset. When we breathe slowly and deeply, it sends a signal to our brain that we are out of danger.

Use Touch To Avoid Uncomfortable Feelings

If you are being triggered by the words of your marriage or relationship partner, it is easy to lose focus.  If you were someone who has experienced significant trauma, words that are not well spoken can take you into a world wind.
Any distraction to help you to avoid becoming more upset will be helpful.

Physical sensation is another effective way to regulate your emotions in the moment.  You could take a sip of water and really feel the sensation of drinking, or you could run your fingers along the seam of the sofa cushion.

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Active Listening Is Important In Your Relationship and Marriage

It is so common in a conversation to listen to form a response. But when we do this it is far easier to misunderstand what the other person is really saying. Be sure to listen to understand, not to form a response.

Difficult conversations are inevitable when you are married or in any kind of relationship. But if you use these tips to regulate yourself, you can remain calm and communicate effectively with your partner.

Show Empathy In Your Relationship During Difficult Conversations

In the heat of battle, it is often difficult to listen to the one who is opposing us. In your marriage or relationship, it is so easy to pause to respond, instead of pausing to listen.
Listening is a special skill that is needed in every marriage or relationship. However, listening is just a part of the skills required for communication.  Once you listen, it is important to empathize. Empathy involves making an attempt to feel and understand what your marriage or relationship partner is saying.
Andrea Brandt, Ph. D, describes empathy as being “the secret sauce in a happy relationship.” She states that “feeling empathy for another person means putting yourself in their shoes. It is the ability to imagine what someone else is thinking and feeling. Unlike sympathy, which means feeling compassion or pity for another, empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s place and seeing the world through their eyes. “
When we learn to communicate with empathy in our relationships, intimacy will surge!
Now that you understand the steps that are needed to regulate yourself during difficult conversations, let’s put these tips into practice.  Starting off it may not be easy. You may need to establish a new normal for communication in your marriage or relationship. But using these tips will certainly pay off. You would love your relationship for it!

Begin Marriage or Relationship Counseling Huntsville, Al

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If you decide that you are interested in finding an experienced counselor to assist you and your marriage or relationship, Aspire Counseling & Consulting Services is a great place to start. Invest in your marriage. Our team of therapists would be happy to offer support from our Huntsville, AL-based practice. Start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
  1. Start interventions to support the growth and intimacy of your relationship.

Other Services Offered With Aspire Counseling

Counseling for couples isn’t the only service offered at our Huntsville, AL-based practice. Our team is happy to offer multiple services in support of your mental health. Other services offered include individual counseling, anger management therapy, anger management classes, therapy for teenagers and adolescents, and depression therapy. We also offer support with continuing education, overcoming eating disorders, and offer online clinical supervision for social workers. Please feel free to visit our blog or FAQ for more helpful info! If you need more information about our rates, accepted insurance, and services or are ready to begin counseling services, please do not hesitate to call or visit our blog for more information.



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