Relationship Insurance Part 3 of 3: Oh No! We're at Stage Four of Conflict. Now What?

Functioning Well

Conflict with contemptuous communication (Stage 4) can trigger emotional flooding and reactivity. When one or both of the people become emotionally reactive (emotionally flooded), it is not possible to have a rational discussion. The couple usually drops into the attack fight / flight mode. The pulse races above the norm of 72 and reaches even the extreme height of 90 to 100 as our blood pressure rises. Because opposites attract, one of us may try to ‘fight it out’ while the other wants to withdraw. Fight/flight reactions are normal as stress rises and it impacts both people. Females are naturally inclined to attack with words and a man is naturally inclined to attack physically. Thankfully, a man stops himself because he is wired to be physical and then tries to withdraw to cool off. To attack her physically is wrong, but he may feel overwhelmed by her ability to use cutting words. If he does withdraw, she thinks he is rejecting her so she goes after him even harder with words. If a couple recognizes this cycle they can call “Time Out” until they cool down.

Plan for a Fight - At a time when you are in the Content stage of the cycle, take some time to look at the chart together and agree on some ground rules.

There are times when we are flooded. We both must cool off in order to resolve the issue in a healthy way. Have a signal that both agree will stop the madness. Either can call TIME OUT! Time out is not rejection or lack of interest, but a need to be calm. Walk it off and let the heart rate cool off. Withdraw for prayer and renewed thinking. Come back for a peaceful discussion and try to resolve the conflict through healthy complaints using ‘I’ statements instead of ‘You’ statements. Related Articles: Relationship Insurance Part 1 of 3 -  How to Grow and Maintain Love During Conflict Relationship Insurance Part 2 of 3 - Conflicts are Inevitable, but Break Ups are Optional Reducing Stress – Understanding Your Reactivity and Rate Your Reactivity