strategic

conflict-avoidant couple with therapist

Ask Ellyn #1:

How do you create intensity and momentum with conflict-avoidant partners?

I find conflict-avoidant couples more challenging than hostile couples. Their energy is so low. How do you create intensity and momentum with conflict-avoidant partners?

 

When a couple with a long-term conflict-avoidant history comes to see you, change is often excruciatingly slow. You may wonder, “Am I being effective?”

Here is why these couples are challenging:

  • Many partners wait for their spouses to take the active role, while they remain passive or inactive themselves.
  • These partners usually want better marriages but have deep fears and avoid taking the risk to be authentic.
  • They will “collapse” quickly rather than risking truthfully expressing their desires.
  • They test you and then test each other to be sure they will survive the stress of disagreement, conflict, or differentiation. As a result, they are slow to bring up much of substance in therapy.

So how do you work with conflict avoidant partners?

Here is a step-by-step summary of what it takes to create substantial change in long-term conflict-avoidant relationships.

  • Describe their avoidant pattern and demonstrate how the choice of avoiding conflict is self-protective, yet keeps them stuck and disengaged.
  • Confront their growth-inhibiting beliefs and passive behaviors when they occur in your sessions. You must actively challenge these!
  • Ask each partner what will help them tolerate more emotional intensity.
  • Establish some risk-taking goals for each partner.
  • Highlight the importance of tolerating tension. Explain to them that staying with a substantial issue from beginning to end instead of disengaging from it will challenge them, but it will also be the pathway to enormous progress.
  • Create intensity in sessions, while providing developmental assists to each partner that encourage and support their evolution.

If you struggle with making progress with your conflict-avoidant couples or you dread seeing them, you might be interested in my online training program, The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy: Integrating Attachment, Differentiation, and Neuroscience.

You’ll see real case examples of conflict-avoidant couples and learn from the specific interventions that help these couples evolve.

Not only will you learn proven interventions for working with conflict-avoidant couples, you’ll learn how to disrupt passive-symbiotic systems, challenge hostile/demanding partners, and increase intimacy in more evolved couples.

Don’t take my word for it. Read what one participant said.

If you are interested in watching videos, reading transcripts of sessions and listening to case discussions designed to move partners forward, I encourage you to find out more about the training – and then join me. Visit Developmental Model.

Don’t take my word for it. Read what a participant says.

““You and your husband are a class act, and I have learned a lot this year. I have received training in other modalities – your approach is the most substantial and the most flexible of the systems I have seen. Keep up the good work.”
Steve Gill, Ph.D., Sedona, Arizona

Act Now

If you are interested in watching videos, reading transcripts of sessions, and listening to case discussions designed to move partners forward, I encourage you to find out more about this training and our 30-day money back guarantee. Click The Developmental Model training now.

This blog post is from an 8-part series called “Ask Ellyn: 8 Questions, 8 Answers, 8 Days.” To see the other questions, click Therapist Blog.

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