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Personality Conflict or Communication?

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Have you noticed that some of the very things you loved about your romantic partner at the beginning of the relationship are the things that drive you crazy now? Jungian Psychology has an explanation for this which is related to being attracted to your “shadow” side. Frustration over differences about money, sex, chores, kids, jealousy, and your respective families of origin is normal. And believe it or not, in the long run, if you communicate effectively about them, the discussions can lead to a closer, more intimate relationship! Unfortunately, if these discussions are not handled well, it can lead to accumulated resentments, hopelessness, shut-down, and even loss of respect for one another. In working with couples, I often follow a progression of building couple communication skills. That begins with simply taking turns, keeping track of whose turn it is to talk, and whose to listen. Next, I refine listening skills, helping them to hear one another accurately and cultivating the experience of empathy and intimacy. Once the ability to hear and the experience of being heard is in place, I begin teaching them how to make fair assertive statements, including identifying emotions. With those skills in place, if the couple is interested, we delve into deeper content (often the arguments over whose turn it is to take out the garbage are really not about the garbage, itself <embed video here: )and work toward more profound intimacy and closeness, and a relationship that maximizes each getting their needs met and some of their wants satisfied.

To understand personality differences, I like using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (c) , of which I am a qualified administrator. While it's sometimes difficult to appreciate, personality differences can be strengths in a relationship, as long as each partner's differences are appreciated. For example, if one partner prefers to be planful and organized, and the other prefers to be flexible and spontaneous, they can work together to have great travels together by exercising the planful partner's preference to research accommodations, get maps and schedules, etc., and by using the spontaneous partner's ability to be flexible and come. up with ways of enjoying the trip and recovering when the plans don't work out perfectly.

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