Break the cycle
Updated: Mar 15
What keeps you having the same old argument and leaving you feeling frustrated, angry, upset or misunderstood?
In the example, help is asked for and promised, waited for and not for filled, communication of disappointment and the impact of disappointment being 'withdrawal', which leaves the 'asker' in a position to make a further request to 'manage their feelings' of disappointment.
At any point of the cycle we break it, for example, "Sam waits, Alex then forgot", rather than waiting, Sam might remind without condition or irritation, accepting that Alex forgets. Acceptance is the powerful motivator here.
Another possibility, is acknowledgement, Alex acknowledges that they forgot and apologises, owns and names it and comes at it from the point of view of "given I forgot, what can I do now?"
Over time cycles can become binary. Yes or no. All or nothing. So if you look at the cycle above and number the behaviours from 1 to 6 starting anywhere, 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6 are all positions of being polarised; behaving in opposites. The more the other behaves one way the more you react with the opposite behaviour. Opposition behaviour becomes habitual.
Ideally you will get help with the circular pattern before you become polarised, although polarisation can be easier for couples to identify and therefore, seek help. When working with couples and circularity there can be an element of "chicken and egg"; where the couple want to establish which came first, make it linear and expect the person who started to back down. This is natural. If the objective is to break the cycle we do not need to look at how it started, however a longer bit of work could explore this and can lead to a deeper understanding of each as an individual and what you bring to the couple dynamic.