Fights Are Called "Negative Cycles" In Therapy
The typical negative cycle of a couple recovering from an affair is similar to the classic pursuer/distancer cycle. (Mentioned in an earlier blog post.) In this case the pursuer typically is the injured spouse from the affair while the distancer is the betrayer.
Negative Cycles Include 6 Distinct Components
The anatomy of a fight is made up of 6 component parts. These components keep us stuck in a negative cycle and make it difficult to get out of a negative cycle. They are:
Triggers: these triggers to a negative pattern could be a rude remark, a facial expression, tone of voice, sarcastic comment or literally anything at rubs your spouse the wrong way.
- Appraisals: these are perceptions during a negative cycle you have of yourself and of your spouse. Appraisals of your spouse may be: he/she doesn’t care, he/she is cold, he/she is controlling, etc. Appraisals of yourself may be: I give more than I am getting back in return, I feel like I am not good enough, I see myself as weak, etc.
- Behaviors: these behaviors in a negative cycle tend to be things like yelling, screaming, criticizing, insults, or avoiding your spouse, finding yourself getting busy with distractions or no longer disclosing information with your spouse.
- Secondary Emotions: These emotions are like the emotions that are visibly seen, much like the top of an iceberg is seen. These emotions are often worded as: rejected, lonely, angry (because I’m annoyed), ticked off, mad, hurt, painful etc.
- Primary Emotions: These emotions are like the emotions that are unseen like the bottom of an iceberg. There are only six of these emotions: Anger (assertive anger that defends against wounds), sadness, surprise/excitement, disgust/shame, fear and joy.
- Attachment needs: These needs are the final piece in a negative cycle. Attachment needs could often be: I need to feel needed, I need to feel wanted, I need to feel accepted, I need to feel listened to, etc.
These 6, very unique components, are examined in more detail in future posts. The anatomy of a fight are what keep couples stuck. Understanding these parts can help you communicate better with your partner and feel close again.