Is it me or is it you - moving beyond blame in intimate relationships

It's only natural to try and make sense of problems we are having in our relationship by going on a hunt for whose to blame. It makes sense, doesn't it... if I can locate the problem in you or in myself, then I can fix it! In some situations this may be helpful. More often though, playing the 'blame game' can result in either feeling bad about ourselves or about our partner, becoming defensive or feeling hopeless, and therefore getting stuck about how to change the problem.

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What NOT to do when fighting with your partner!

The last time you got into a fight with someone close to you, what emotions did you feel? How did you act? Did you criticize the other person, call them names, or roll your eyes as you sat in stony silence? Did you get defensive when they tried to explain what was wrong? Or were you able to joke around and lighten the mood?

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Thinking about nonverbal communication in your relationship

It's great when we are able to talk things out with our partner - define the problem, generate possible solutions together, and have the trust to experiment in arriving at the right solution for you as a couple. This is an example of a 'top-down' process from a neuro-biological perspective; that is - the pre-frontal cortex (the verbal, analytic part of the brain) is online and able to do its work. The problem for so many of us is that when we're feeling distressed, especially in the context of our most important relationship, that part of the brain is off-line.

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