An often overlooked factor that creates stress and upset between partners has to do with the differing rate or pace at which partners express themselves. Often this is due to an overlooked factor: their brains run at different clock speeds. Like the race between the tortoise and the hare, some people’s brains run faster, and some run slower.
Using the dance metaphor, it’s as if the couple is trying to dance together, but they move at different speeds. One partner is doing a fast jitterbug, the other a slow waltz. Trying to dance in two completely different tempos, they step on each other’s feet. Continue reading
A common battle with couples comes about when one partner operates more from feeling and the other from thinking. This creates more upset over time as they try to communicate using very different brain channels. From a neuroscience point of view, they differ by which side of the brain runs their communication process.
One is more left-brain dominant and the other speaks more from their right-brain. Mind you, this does not make either of them more “right.” But it does challenge their ability to connect and understand each other — especially if they discuss a stressful topic or try to repair an upset. The way they communicate through these differing brain channels will upset them even more.
So let’s look at some of the underlying properties of right- and left-brain dominance, and what you can do about bringing more brain balance to your conversations. Continue reading
There can be significant and problematic differences between partners’ nervous system biases in energetic range. Some run high, others low. Some run hot, others cold. This will result in very different emotional reactions when triggered. One may be volatile, expansive, or over-the-top. The other may contract, go blank, numb out, or shut down. Think of these as “airplanes” vs. “submarines.”
Airplanes tend toward high energy states, vitality, dramatic emotional expression, yelling, interrupting, gesturing. Anger is a part of their language. Think of a hot-blooded, highly expressive Italian family, where excited emotions quickly arise and people frequently get loud.
Submarines are quiet and contained. Fighting is rare and emotional expression is minimal. Showing anger is foreign, and aggression is expressed passively. Think of a cool Swedish family where voices are seldom raised and good children should be seen and not heard. Continue reading
It can be challenging when one partner wants to feel connected just when the other feels a need for space. Having these opposite needs at the same time is quite common. Most couples can fall out of synch in this manner on a daily basis.
How a couple negotiates being together vs. alone will determine how secure they feel with each other. Unfortunately, these differing needs often turn into a Polarity Dance of pursuer vs. withdrawer. It can happen whenever one partner is pursuing the other for closeness and connection—while the other partner is withdrawing or becoming more distant.
The more one chases connection, the more the other runs away. Conversely, the more that partner distances, the more the first pursues. As this escalates over time, distress in each partner increases. As they polarize more, levels of upset escalate. Continue reading
We all know that different people have different personality types. But how many different types are there? What are they? And how do personality differences impact our relationships?
According to the most useful system I have encountered — it’s called the “Enneagram” — there are nine basic personality types. We all have some of each type within us. But we mostly tend to identify with one to three of these types. Continue reading