The same thing happens in your first fight in relationship relationship. Each first event in dating and marriage creates a pattern you are likely to follow, unless you become aware and consciously change the habits that are problematic. Doing what you’ve always done is easy, and it reduces stress when it works well. It is only when the old familiar pattern leads to problems that it creates stress. Planning your wedding, for example, creates patterns for dealing with extended family, solving problems together, making financial decisions, and being considerate of each other’s feelings. Your first fight lays down a pattern for all future fights, so if you calm down, solve the problem and then make up, you’ve created a useful format to follow. These patterns are like the first layer of bricks in a wall. Every later brick will build on the pattern laid down at first, so if some of the patterns you’ve developed in your early relationship are creating problems, it’s worth the effort to learn to change them.

We also acquire patterns and habits from our early family and from past relationships. If you have created a habit of fighting instead of working things out, the good news is you can correct them. Maybe you bought the dream: you and this wonderful partner would get married, make a life together, have some really great kids, and life would be wonderful. That’s how the romantic movies and happy sitcoms show it, isn’t it? But, on some days, maybe your relationship feels more like “The War of the Roses,” and you despair of ever working it out.

There’s no need for despair: in thirty years of marriage counseling, I’ve found almost any problem in a relationship can be fixed, if both partners want to fix it. What gets in the way is lack of skills and destructive patterns that get set up in the first months and years of your relationship.

Categories: Business