Couples Counselling: Fixing Your Arguments

Dealing with Relationship Conflict in 3 Steps: Reconnecting

In your relationship does a row or conflict make you feel bad and pull away from your partner? Does this mean that you or your partner sulk or keep hold of your feelings? This simple 3-step fix will help you.

Step 1: Do not try to “set the record straight”

In your relationship, trying to establish the “facts”  is pretty much a waste of effort and you may have found that it makes the situation worse? This is because the mind works to protect itself, the emotion of the row creating distortion.  Perhaps you recognise the situation where you believe that you said and heard what you did whilst your partner will be adamant that they said and heard something different? What this means in that neither of you is really equipped to know what exactly happened.

Also it is very important to recognise that the conflict was in the past and accept that the past is gone. What has gone is much less important than NOW or what is going to happen.

Step 2: It’s All About You.

Accept that there is only one positive outcome that you can hope to achieve from the situation.  That is, you can only ever change yourself.  So, use your power to change your behaviour.

“When you decide to change your behaviour you choose to change the conditions of your life.  Doing this is the road to happiness”.

Step 3: Nightmares…

The following instructions provide an effective way to reconnect, Not only that but you get an additional bonus as the process itself helps develop relational maturity (Adult).

Agree a Nightmare Unfolding Appointment with your partner, agreeing when and where.

Complete the following sentences.  The rules are that you Speak ONLY about yourself. You Say NOTHING about your partner.

  • My contribution to this situation/nightmare was…

(Partner mirrors- notes on how to mirror are in following post)

  • What I did to make this situation/nightmare worse was…

(Partner mirrors)

  • What I could have done differently was:

(Partner mirrors)

  • Next time what I will do differently is:

(Partner mirrors)

  • Swap Over and partner speaks, using the same structure, speaking ONLY about themselves.


Note Especially that… No matter what your partner says or how they say it, do not justify or defend yourself.

Do not expect your partner to take responsibility for their part. They will only begin to see their part in the the problem after you have fully spoken about your part.  Accept that your mission is to only complete the above sentences. That alone will restore positive connection.

NB. The idea of fairness in a close relationship is “meaningless”. Fairness appears after we stop requiring it.



Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.


Private Lies:Infidelity and Betrayal of Intimacy; Pittman, F.; (1990), Norton.
This is a classic book on infidelity. Very useful.

Counseling Today has some interesting articles about relationships.  Some classics there by Frank Pittman

More resources can be found on Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy Couples page:Couples Counselling Resources

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