Floods that Wipe Out Good Marriages


Researchers call it “diffuse physiological arousal.” Therapists call it “flooding.” You start out a little bit angry or anxious. Your stress grows. When it reaches the point called “flooding,” you can no longer think clearly about anything except fight (hurting or stopping the person or thing you are upset about) or flight (getting away, even if just inside...

The Difference Between a Disagreement and a Fight


You ask for something. Your husband or wife says no or asks for something different. This is a disagreement. A disagreement may actually be a good thing. So what turns a disagreement into a fight? You demand, pout, withdraw affection, insinuate, or put forth perfectly rational arguments that result in your mate demaning, pouting, insinuating or taking up sides against you in a debate. Unless the...

Love and Fear


Fear drives out love. That tense knot in your chest keeps your heart from melting when it should. Disagreements create fear, both fear of needing to give up being yourself to stay married and fear of losing the kindnesses, respect, shared moments, courage, and teamwork that marriage offers. Third Alternatives end the disagreement, end the fear, and let love flow. One of the best ways to stay in...

Six Words to End a Disagreement


I want you to have it. Wouldn’t you love to hear these words when you say what you want? So would your life partner. Instead we say other, less wonderful things: We don’t have the money. I can’t spare the time. You wouldn’t really like it. Too bad. You can’t have it. Dream on! But wouldn’t it feel great to be able to say it? To feel confident it is within our...

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More on Turning Disagreements into Shared Victories


How did you do with yesterday’s challenge to solve a toothpaste cap disagreement? A Third Alternative is a solution to your disagreement that will make both of you feel respected, loved, and in control of what matters to you. You create shared specs for your Third Alternative. They include the outcomes each of you values from your initial alternatives. They protect both of you from anything...

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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