Yonasan Bender
Psychotherapist and Clinical Director of Jerusalem Therapy

Why solving problems with your spouse is making matters worse

Is your relationship solution actually the problem?

Think back to the last time with your spouse. I’m sure it crossed your mind, “Is this guy even trying to use his brain?” “Is she intentionally making things worse?” The irony is neither side is trying to run the relationship into the ground. Each is doing their best to get back to love. The catch is each side has very different ideas of what the ingredients of repair are. There are three ingredients that partners size up differently. Being aware of these enable each to see the other’s good intentions and catch the love.

One difference is method. Some folks believe deeply addressing problems on the spot is the best strategy. Be direct and forthright. Rip off the band-aid no matter how painful that will be. Others are compromisers. They value agreeing to disagree. Sidestep the problem and focus on the common ground. Why let the pesky disagreement ruin the overwhelming good that exists?

Timing’s another difference. Some folks can’t last long in a fight. Their anger boils faster than a kettle and they end up fighting two battles at the same time. One is with their partner. The other is fighting to suppress rage. Other people can keep their cool and even thrive on conflict. Another time issue is when to fight. One partner might treat fights like text messaging.  Open it up immediately no matter where or when. Other partners feel there’s a time and place for fights – in private and later when tempers have cooled.

The last area of difference is what resolution means. Not everyone wants an apology but those that do really do. Practical and concrete solutions are important but not to everyone. For others, vague promises hyper-charged with emotional energy is what’s meaningful.

Fighting well is what makes love grow. What “well” means is not straightforward. Keep an open mind to what good fighting means for your partner.  Be aware of your own fight beliefs.  Finally, incorporate both into every fight you have.  This will go a long way in making space for both of you to stay in love.

About the Author
Yonasan Bender is a psychotherapist and the clinical director of Jerusalem Therapy. He is a graduate of Hebrew University’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare. He completed post graduate training in a wide array of therapeutic approaches ranging from CBT to Psychodynamic therapies. Before Hebrew University, he studied at Washington University in St. Louis and Drake University. Yonasan majored in philosophy and ethics. Yonasan is a member of the Association For Contextual Behavioral Science. He’s a key member of the clinical team at The Place, the Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. Yonasan has collaborated with other mental health organizations like Machon Dvir as a Dialectical Behavioral Therapist skills trainer. He’s also served a group leader for the National Educational Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder’ Family Connections program. He specializes in treating anxiety, depression, anger, poor self-esteem, insomnia, psychosis, autism, personality disorders, and marital conflict. He has an extensive background working with individuals, couples, families, and children.
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