The starting point for unraveling communication difficulties in African-American couples therapy and family therapy is to lower the intensity of conflict by changing the language that is used. Much of how we argue is the product of learned behavior. As long as the chemistry of anger courses through our bodies, clear compassionate communication is unlikely.
Before tackling the specific family, marital or other relationship problem at hand, it is helpful to remove the loaded words that we routinely use. They guarantee our partner’s defenses will be deployed. For example, “You always…” is a sure fire ‘shot across the bow’ which is accusatory and condemning. It implies a disapproval that strikes at the core of our partner’s sense of self—whether it is intentional or not. How can we express the way we feel without attacking our partner?
The emotionally driven default words and statements used during conflict reflect our earliest experiences of learning how to conduct ourselves in an argument. We learned to turn up the volume and drive the point home without considering how it lands on our partner.
Research offers ample evidence that there are better ways to resolve conflict. Wouldn’t you like to leave your partner with their dignity intact after the argument? At Black Minds Matter Psychotherapy in Oakland and San Rafael, our principal goal is to help you learn to ‘fight better’ so that you may maintain your relationship. This means learning a new language and remembering why you got together in the first place.
Relationship Remodeling™ is a compact training that helps you separate process from content and override your mental default conflict settings so that you and your partner or family members can disagree and still remain bonded. Contact our therapist Reuben Burke today for black couples therapy and family therapy.