Previously on couplementary: HE wanted to bring up his dissatisfaction with her and expected some sort of an acknowledgement. HE yielded HER anger and the situation escalated.
Usually when we achieve the opposite of what we intended, we get annoyed. Very annoyed. From the outside and with a little distance these are often situations that comedies are based on. You attempt one thing and what you get is exactly the opposite. Only worse.
My client can’t see the funny side to this emotional episode of his married life. They both have now reached a point where their brains and bodies fill with anger, hurt and annoyance. Amygdalae gone wild. It is clear to HIM that she is now about to throw a tantrum. HE has been at this point many times. It leads down a path of escalation and damage – verbal destruction at least. What are HIS options right now? Two strategical streams open up: calming things down or engaging in an argument. From which several tactical versions of action arise in his mind (here in order of escalation and potential for disaster):
- He can apologise immediately and hope to calm her down (caution! can backfire badly)
- He can freeze and – try to – sit it out until she calms down (alright, worth a trial)
- He can tell her that he does not want to talk this through at this heated stage (and hope her rational brain can still process – good luck amateur!)
- He can leave or at least be quiet until both have calmed down
- He can engage in a full blown fight in order to make clear that he is right and she is wrong
He “decides” for option E). He tells her with an angry face that he will not continue with this argument right there right then. This now prompts her to storm off, which helps both to settle for option D) as a joint effort. They now have time to calm down and he feels much calmer already after a few minutes. HIS rumination about what just happened however only just started. He thinks “I feel more stuck than before. Why can we not just say sorry and acknowledge what we do to each other? Why is it so difficult …”.
They will both reconcile a few hours later. They will hug and kiss and maybe hold each other. Without words. He will not bring the subject up ever again. He tried that before – for many years – and the only outcome it ever had, was going back to square one, restarting the fight, leading to more hurt and more escalation. Very destructive. It was never possible to just talk about one issue separately. Every attempt to do so always lead to a tornado of emotion on his partner’s side that sucked in all kinds of issues and brought up bad things from the past.
Their arguments got never resolved, the underlying triggers never discussed. Until the next big fight.
Other questions you might ask just for your own amusement:
Why does it seem that he is always ordering and then gets the blame when something goes wrong? If the roles were reversed, would he do the same? Hypothetically: Would it be a big deal if he had made a mistake and ordered coffee instead of tea or white rice instead of red? Or maybe ask the question the other way around, what is going on for her to have some sort of a heightened reaction?