A Secret Code Word for Couples During Conflict

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Secret Code Word for Warring Couples

One of the most underrated and best-kept secrets for resolving conflicts with your partner or spouse is using code word for couples when things get too heated. An inherent power struggle between couples can lead to frequent arguments, but using a secret code word might help you diffuse a lot of the tension. Let’s find out what it means to have a code word for couples.

If you’ve been married more than a few years, you will recognize yourselves in the following scenario: Something minor gets said that triggers Partner A, who reacts with a sharp tone. Partner B reacts to Partner A’s tone with an escalation of tone, and pretty soon a marital arms race has begun over something as benign as who unloads the dishwasher more often.

The most ridiculous example from my own 39-year marriage was — and this is the shameful truth — who had to turn their head more to see the clock when one of us asked what time it was. (“Why don’t you look?” “Why don’t you look?” “Because you’re closer.” “No, you are!”)

Left unchecked, these power struggles over the trivial take on a life of their own, and every minor detail of life becomes a potential relationship land mine. When I see couples in my office that are stuck in these repeated cycles, I recommend they come up with a code word they can use when the tensions start to rise.

Related: 3 Questions To Ask Yourself If You and Your Partner Fight Constantly

There Are Only A Few Rules Necessary

1) It should be a code word that both find funny

2) Whoever takes the initiative to employ the code word, the other partner agrees ahead of time to an automatic cease-fire. That is, no more talking about the topic for x amount of time, and that x should be at least 20 minutes. (Brain research shows that when we flip our lid it takes us at least 20 minutes to calm down again.) It can be longer than 20 minutes, but no less.

Finding the funny code word can be a fun process. Think of a movie character who cracks both of you up, or someone from real life, or an experience from the past that every time you mention it, it brings a smile to both of your faces.

Code word for couples
Dealing with conflict in marriage

The Funny Element Is Important For A Few Reasons

a) It keeps you both from taking yourselves and your power struggle too seriously.

b) It introduces an element of humor into a tense situation.

c) It immediately bonds you over something positive you share when you’re not squabbling.

Related: 5 Ways To Stay Calm During An Argument With Your Spouse

So if you recognize these patterns in your relationship, be proactive and take a few moments with your partner to come up with a humorous code word to use the next time one of you triggers a squabble over something silly.

Want to know more about how you can deal with the power struggle in relationship? Check this video out below!

Check out Josh Gressel’s Psychology Today blog for more informative articles.


Written By Josh Gressel Ph.D.
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today
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