Many couples believe their arguments never get resolved because one partner seems to find the confrontation easy while the other wants to avoid it. “We just can’t communicate!” is a frequent statement we hear from couples in counseling.

This communication pattern is very common. It usually looks something like this: John and Sue are frequently getting into arguments that result in John storming off and giving Sue the cold shoulder. Sue just gets angrier with John when he does this and, despite how many times he says he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, she continues to have her say and gets even louder and more intense.

Back in therapy, John says he just can’t handle it when Sue gets so intense and feels like he wants to get away from her. Even so, as they describe the route their arguments normally take, it’s clear that they really love each other and want to find a better way of resolving issues.