The Hidden Relationship Killer

The Healthy Family Connections Podcast:

The Hidden Relationship Killer

Episode 031 · Duration: 00:15:03

The Hidden Relationship Killer

Does it seem like both individuals in your relationship have good intentions and yet a peaceful resolution is always out of reach? In Episode 31 of my podcast Healthy Family Connections, we talk about the hidden relationship killer called a Negative Cycle, and how to break free from it.

The Hidden Relationship Killer

I actually discussed this a bit last year here on my blog.

We hear from one couple, Lisa and James, who are so caught in the cycle that they’ve lost touch with why they’re in a relationship to begin with. Lisa reported that James had become distant, disengaged, unwilling to connect, and was no longer interested in sex. James felt that Lisa was always angry, hostile, judgmental and otherwise unapproachable.

The Negative Cycle

In a Negative Cycle, Person A’s reactions to a situation end up triggering Person B’s, and Person B’s reactions end up triggering Person A’s. The cycle continues until everyone is miserable, often reducing a couple to a flat, two-dimensional caricature of themselves. In order to stop that cycle, each person needs to be mindful of the other, and empathize first before reacting.

Couples need to be mindful of the other & empathize before reacting.Click To Tweet

For instance, James could say to Lisa:
“I know it’s upsetting to you when I withdraw from the relationship. I know it’s hurtful and that’s not what I want for you.”

Lisa could say to James:
“I know it’s hard for you that I’m so direct with my anger. I don’t mean to hurt you, I care about your feelings.”

In every interaction, start with validation and empathy. After a while, your Negative Cycle will be tamed and put out of commission. Always remember that it’s there — just don’t give it control.

Challenge Yourself

Answer the questions:

  1. What is my participation in the Negative Cycle?
  2. Am I quick to react and defend?
  3. Do I store things up and have it come out sarcastically?
  4. Do I withhold and withdraw?

Instead of any of these behaviors, try something new.
First, realize that your partner’s behavior is based on their way of dealing with uncomfortable feelings, and now, they have chronic uncomfortable feelings in the relationship. So you can change the cycle by offering empathy and validation to their uncomfortable feelings.

Realize that your partner’s behavior is based on their way of dealing with uncomfortable feelings.Click To Tweet

For a more in-depth look at Negative Cycles, take a listen to my podcast, Healthy Family Connections.

Thanks to Lisa and James for bringing this very common issue to our attention.

Please feel free to come to my website at and sign up for my weekly email.

If you haven’t already, grab a copy of my book, Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle. Many readers have told me it is the least expensive and best counseling session they’ve ever had.

And if you are enjoying my podcast, please stop over to my iTunes site Healthy Family Connections. Click on ratings and reviews, and write a brief review.

And please, take care of yourselves; you need it, you deserve it, you’re worth it. Bye for now.

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Posted in The Healthy Family Connections Podcast.