Keeping emotional reactivity in check

Good communication depends on keeping our emotional reactivity in check. It’s so easy to get off track at the very beginning of a disagreement. Here’s something to practice that will help you with this. (By the way, if you’re running into a lot of trouble with communication this book is full of practical help).


Accepting Yourself and Your Partner–Practice

  1. Notice how your voice tone affects the voice tone of the person you speak to.
  2. Change your voice tone and see how it changes the voice tone of the other person.
  3. When your level of negative emotional arousal is low, notice how much you love your partner, notice your commitment to your relationship, and notice the things you both want from your relationship, such as companionship, friendship, support, and understanding.
  4. Notice that you are in the same boat together: you sail or sink together. Every day remind yourself about how you are connected to your partner: “Your happiness is my happiness, and your unhappiness is my unhappiness. When I take care of your needs, I am also taking care of my own. When I treat you with love and kindness, I am taking care of myself also.”
  5. Notice how your mood affects others around you, and vice versa.
  6. Before saying something to your partner, even in an easy, nonconflictual situation, as yourself, “Is this going to make things better or worse?” or, if you prefer, “Is this going to get me what I really want in the long term?” Practice this one as much as possible, even several times per day. Notice how empowering it is to be able to choose how you proceed rather than simply reacting.


From, The High-Conflict Couple, by Alan E. Fruzzetti; pp. 17-18