Do you and your partner want to avoid miscommunication and fine-tune your conflict resolution skills?

Being able to identify which defense mechanisms you and your partner use is an effective way of minimizing unproductive communication and unnecessary fighting.

Every human in the world exhibits defense mechanisms in some way or another, they are our brains' automatic way of protecting our peace and good conscience.

Defense mechanisms are usually rooted in childhood experiences and development, where we learned how to defend ourselves from negative feelings and thoughts. During conflict with your partner, it is likely that defense mechanisms will come into play.

If you or your partner have a difficult time identifying your defense mechanisms it can be really helpful to do some individual work! You will both need to become self-aware of your true feelings, those are the ones that lay beneath the surface. Practicing emotional expression with ‘I feel’ statements and remaining curious about your emotions will help you to get to the bottom of your built in coping mechanisms. Journaling is an excellent way for you to document how you feel in a safe place, remember to stay nonjudgmental and accept however you are feeling.

Once you and your partner feel you have a good understanding of how you each truly feel, you will be able to identify defense mechanisms with more ease. If you notice that you or your partner's behavior or words do not match the reality of the situation or their own feelings it is time for a reset. Take a time out to consider which, if any, defense mechanism is at play. When you return, be sure to clearly give your perspective on the situation before the pause and try to come to a consensus on what happened and why. 

If you or your partner struggle to decrease the prevalence of defense mechanisms in your relationship, setting boundaries might be necessary.

For example, “If you allow yourself to behave or speak in that way again, I will leave the situation until you are calm.”

Setting boundaries is very healthy because it teaches your partner how you expect to be treated. This will protect your relationship from damaging actions.

Communication is at the root of coping with defense mechanisms. Communicating with yourself, and with your partner aids in emotional understanding. It’s important that you and your partner always remain open and honest, as well as accepting and unprejudiced when communicating how you feel. 

If you find defense mechanisms causing continual harm to you and your relationship, consider speaking to a counselor. Many defense mechanisms are associated with complex trauma, and may require some extra support to cope with.

Build a better relationship with your partner just by downloading Couply on Android or Apple! Couply offers a variety of relationship questions, couple's quizzes, expert articles, and even games that you and your partner can enjoy together while building a stronger relationship.