Photo Credit: YouTube, Esther Perel
- Both listening and sharing, engaged, connected which would NOT be the dance of negative escalation.
- Both withdrawing into their own thoughts – away from the perceived conflict or threat. Not outright escalation but no resolution either.
- Both attacking, escalating into screaming and violence until…This wouldn’t even be considered a dance probably. I’m still learning.
- One felt to be attacking, and the other felt to be withdrawing. This is where the dance takes place).
Perel defines this dance of negative escalation in this way: a “pattern occurs when one partner stonewalls and the other, in reaction to this refusal to engage, allows their emotions to escalate…For both partners the part of themselves they struggle with today is the very trait that saved them as a child. Sometimes what works as a survival strategy backfires when we are no longer under threat.”
“It takes two people to create a pattern, but only one to change it.”
― Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence
We don’t want to go there in our relationships. Or if one partner or the other is there, the other can still begin to make positive change.
If you are in a relationship with the pattern using the dance of negative escalation to deal with issues , there is such hope! The links below are incredibly helpful…and they are just a few of the many resources available by Esther Perel and others.
I just wanted to introduce this subject. For those of you who know you struggle with these negative cycles, start with the links and go on your own journey of healing and restoration.
In her talk the other night, Esther Perel described the experience of having more than one marriage, sometimes with the same person. In a way, I experienced that with my sweet husband. We have a thick cord of continuity through our marriage, but, in ways, our marriage has passed through such seasons that almost feel like we are in a different marriage. I’m so thankful we stuck it out with each other.
Remember, a negative cycle is the problem. It may have absolutely nothing to do with the character of either spouse. “Name the cycle” rather than blaming your explosive partner or feeling betrayed by the withdrawing one. Start there. Then take steps to slow down the conflict in a safe environment in order to see what is happening underneath. With grace, accountability (external and internal), and time, you can come out on the other side, stronger, healthier, and with love rekindled and restored.
Marital Destructive Styles of Communication – Round Rock Couples Counseling
Couples Negative Cycles – Round Rock Couples Counseling
Naming Your Negative Cycle – Round Rock Couples Counseling
Withdrawers Desire Safety – Round Rock Couples Counseling
Negative Couples Cycle: Finding the Bad Guy – Kevin Leapley, Round Rock Couples Counseling
YouTube Video – Fight Smarter – Avoid the Most Common Argument Patterns – Esther Perel
Emotionally Focused Therapy – a Roadmap for Working with Couples (pdf) – Tanya Radecker
Series : Marriage with a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse – Brad Hambrick – Dr. Hambrick is an excellent “counselor to the church”. He covers a lot of ground on this topic related to the different aspects of being self-centered in a marriage: the low emotional intelligence self-centered spouse, the lazy or apathetic self-centered spouse, the situationally explosive self-centered spouse, and the intentionally manipulative self-centered spouse. Fascinating. Great helps as well.
Growing in Negative Emotion Tolerance – Brad Hambrick