Yet, as an adult, it is the feelings that cause discomfort, which must be tolerated and then contemplated in order to resolve conflict in a close relationship. Encouraging a partner to seek therapy to help him or her recover from childhood trauma and disarm extreme defense mechanisms may be necessary.
A final reason a partner is unable to resolve conflict maybe because he or she grew up observing his or her parents fighting in a volatile manner. A child often unconsciously enacts the defense mechanism “identification with the aggressor” in desperation. A child feels small, terrified, and helpless during trauma, so empathizing with the powerless person in the scenario is just too much.
The helplessness the child feels is barely tolerable, so he or she defends against it by identifying with the aggressor. This allows a child to feel powerful and in control in the face of terrifying chaos.
This childhood defense mechanism may contribute to an adult partner’s need to deflect and attack instead of listening with an open heart.
It is also very possible that all three of the experiences articulated above occurred in a partner’s life. This may make it nearly impossible for him or her to recover. In this situation, the most important thing to assess is the partner’s motivation. If a partner is highly motivated to evolve, accessing the correct help is critical. Eliciting a psychotherapist who is highly trained in a psychodynamic perspective may be the best route.
It is important to note that a dysfunctional relationship signified by a partner’s inability to resolve conflict may not be emotionally safe. If a person is rarely heard, constantly attacked, or rebuffed for having a feeling that is incongruent with a partner’s and is continually and unfairly accused, the person may need to find a way to exit the relationship and move on to someone who is emotionally healthy.
When you feel that a minor disagreement is turning into one of those horrible nightmare fights, then stop and take a deep breath. Try to get to the root of the problem and see what the issue actually is; if your partner has childhood issues which are causing them to react like this, then maybe the time has come for some serious therapy.