In Episode 13 I'm SO excited to have two incredible guests: Anne Streett, LMFT Associate and Sharla Austin, LMFT Associate. We're talking about how to argue well in a relationship. I think it's a very fitting topic for engaged couples, because this season can often come with a bit of turbulence.
SO many things are changing within your relationship and you're sharing so many new experiences together. Sometimes that can make everything feel more charged, and it can amplify emotions. It may be a relief to hear that arguing is actually a very normal part of planning a wedding and a marriage together, and so in this episode we talk about how arguments can lead to growth and an even closer bond, if you can be intentional about following the steps you'll learn in this episode from Anne and Sharla. So DEFINITELY give this one a listen, friends!
IN THIS EPISODE:
On Attachment Needs
We all have a need to be loved and desired. And when these needs aren’t being met it impacts our behaviors in negative ways. We interact with those we love the most in ways that leave us disconnected. And then we start to question our love for each other. -Sharla
On EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy)
EFT is looking at places couples are “stuck” in and getting unstuck. And understanding both people’s attachment needs. -Sharla
We have a pattern of standard responses in an argument. We call it a 'dance’ or a negative cycle that couples get into. -Anne
Anger is often more of a display than an actual emotion. And it’s typically used to cover something else up. It’s easier to express anger than to be vulnerable, for example. Anger feels easy to portray for most people. It’s easier to portray anger than it is to portray pain, hurt, sadness, and the wounds that you have. -Anne
When we see anger as therapists, it’s a protest. How can we get underneath that anger that’s so easy to access and find out, ‘what are you protesting?’ ‘What are you not getting, or what is happening for you in this relationship on a deeper level?’ - Sharla
If it’s easy for one partner to get to anger, then the other partner normally pulls away in one way or another because they can’t bare the anger coming at them. That leaves the partner feeling more alone, and even angrier. But the person who is pulling away is actually attempting to preserve the relationship. Arguing well means staying present, even in the hard places. -Sharla
When you feel disconnected, your attachment needs fall to the wayside. Practicing being present for one another -- turning your phone off, sitting with one another engaging in conversation, checking-in with one another, starting your morning just with a cup of coffee without the distractions -- is really critical. - Sharla
Sue Johnson says “depression is a natural response to the loss of connection.” -Anne
Sharla tells a hilarious story about a new bowl she purchased, and from her son’s perspective it looked like a butt. So he called it the “butt bowl” and at first Sharla insisted it was not. But then she got down and looked at the bowl from her son’s perspective and realized that’s exactly what it looked like to him. So sometimes in an argument both people are right. It’s just a matter of stepping outside of your position and seeing things from your partner’s perspective.
Our cognitive side of our brain cannot override the emotional side of our brain. Our emotions override everything, so we need to get comfortable with our emotions. They’re our friends. -Sharla
More Insights and Advice
HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired). You need to ‘halt’ if you’re feeling any of these things because you probably won’t have a productive conversation in these states. -Sharla
Millennials are actually very good at going against the grain with the stigma that has come with therapy for so long. They are a group that really wants to be proactive about their relationships, and marriage especially. -Anne
Anne sometimes draws out family maps with her clients to see where seeds got planted. That way the client can deconstruct that and create a new narrative for what they want their future to look like. -Anne
Book Recommendations Made by Anne and Sharla Inside This Episode:
About Anne Streett, LMFT Associate
In a world where we are not always encouraged to reach out for help, I would like to applaud you for taking the first steps. It is no easy task to entrust your inner thoughts and experiences with a stranger—but I am committed to meeting you right where you are in your life.
Therapy requires a bit of risk taking. You may feel uncomfortable with the idea of confronting aspects of your life that aren’t working well. However, it’s my mission to suspend my assumptions when you share your experiences with me. I’m eager to let you teach me about your world as it is now, and how you would like to see it improve.
LIVING OUT PARENTHOOD, JUST LIKE YOU
As a wife and mother to three children, I am right there with you when it comes to navigating the ups and downs that come with these roles. When I started my own journey as a parent, I quickly realized the enormous void in our society’s ability to provide support to new parents. This is not the type of venture to do alone, yet the resources are limited.
Do you find it hard staying connected to your partner since this new little person came and shook things up?
Do you sometimes feel resentful about your new responsibilities and then beat yourself up for feeling that way?
NEW PARENTS: YOUR RELATIONSHIP MATTERS
I have made it a priority to empower couples who are in the trenches of parenthood and restore confidence to help you thrive as a team. Your relationship can be a haven in the craziness of parenting; one that bonds you through the hard days.
If you’re struggling to figure out if you want children, or are feeling plagued with anxiety about your first (second, or nth!) child on the way, know that what you are experiencing is so normal, especially as it relates to the millennial generation. Now is the perfect time to prioritize some space for yourself and your partner to explore what exactly you need- for yourself and from each other- to succeed as parents and to make sure your relationship stays above water.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I look at everything in your life through a systemic lens. This means that everything is connected and has a ripple effect. Your relationships paint the picture of your world and illustrates how you operate. This is why it’s so effective to focus time and energy into your relationship: it will have a direct impact on your experience of birth, parenting, and navigating the ups and downs of family life for years to come.
Something you should know about me is that I look for your strengths every chance I get, especially in the most hopeless of situations. I will enter our therapeutic relationship armed with compassion, thoughtful curiosity, and the work of uncovering your strengths to bring a fresh perspective on your struggles.
I have worked in many diverse settings in my time as a therapist. Most recently, I worked with ALS patients and their families in UT Southwestern’s Neurology Department. I have seen how illness can have a shattering effect on relationships. But I also saw couples and families become stronger than ever through their courageous support of one another. Maybe you’re grieving something or someone in your life and you feel stuck in that pain. It doesn’t need to stay like this forever, and I’d like to help.
I hope to shine a light on your strengths, and help you bring hope and excitement back to your life and relationships.
Anne is supervised by Dr. Jan Martin Dunn, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S
About Sharla Austin, LMFT Associate
There could be a million reasons as to why you ended up here, trying to find out more about me and to see if I might be the right therapist for you. Whether you’re just beginning your search for a therapist or if it feels like mine is the millionth profile you’ve read, the bottom line is that you’re trying to determine who can help you and who you might eventually grow to trust enough to share some very vulnerable parts of your life with. Truth be told, it’s almost as nerve-wracking as a dating website or searching through tinder profiles.
Before you make a decision on whether you are going to swipe left or right, it might be helpful if I tell you a little bit about the types of clients I enjoy most and have the most success in helping. Honestly, I want to work with clients who are ready to make a change in their lives and want to work hard to achieve their goals. Therapy can be a lot like working out with a personal trainer– I’m not going to make you do burpees or chin-ups, but I am going to push you beyond your comfort zone if it will help you live life well.
COUPLES THERAPY FOR EVERY PHASE OF LIFE
Whether dating, engaged, or married- I have worked with couples in every phase of their relationship and I understand challenges that each season brings. I have extensive experience working with individuals, couples and families, including those living with chronic and terminal illnesses. I also enjoy working with people who are straight and LGBTQ+, and vary on the spectrum of religiosity and spirituality.
EFT FOR COUPLES
I have specialized training in a highly effective type of couple’s therapy called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). I love helping couples work through their “in” problems: infidelity, infertility, internet, in-laws, or in-love concerns.
In other words, I can help with dating, conflict resolution, communication, family dynamics, sexual relationships and the impact of digital technologies on you and your relationships. Whether I work with you alone, or with you and your partner, I believe that you’re the expert on your life, and I am the expert on people and relationships. Therapy is a collaborative effort, and I want to help you get to a place where you are thriving instead of just surviving.
Of special interest to me is also helping couples navigate life after they become parents. As a mother to littles myself, I’m incredibly aware of the beauty and challenges that parenthood places on intimate relationships. As if adjusting to the monumental task of keeping another human being alive weren’t enough, there are also challenges to the parents’ physical health, psychological changes to adjust to, logistical challenges and a reordering of the couple’s social life. Whew! No wonder so many couples find themselves in a confusing funk during what “should” be a magical time.
I believe that feeling respected and safe is key to making our therapeutic relationship successful. In me, you will find a calm and gentle presence, a listening ear, and someone who has a genuine interest in your life.
I absolutely love being a therapist and I hope that you will consider giving me the honor of being yours!
Sharla is supervised by Dr. Lawrence Porter, Ph.D., LMFT-S
PURCHASE THE ESSENTIAL WEDDING AND ENGAGEMENT PLANNER