How do I know if I am in a high conflict marriage?
16th November 2020
How do I know if I am living with a high conflict person?
All relationships experience conflict from time to time and more so during periods of stress such as during lockdown
There is a big difference between a bad patch in a marriage and a high conflict partner Key points to consider:- Is the amount of conflict normal?
No marriage is a bed of roses all of the time. Even the happiest couples will have their rough patches.
Three questions you should ask yourself
a. Can you trace when the conflict started or has it always been that way?
If your conflict has increased during times of stress then it’s probably normal conflict triggered by the pressure of life. Notwithstanding this, you may still decide separation and divorce is the right decision for you
If the conflict is continual and has always been that way then it's probably high conflict situation you are in
b. Do your arguments make sense or are you often left confused? In high conflict situations, arguments leave you confused and more a case of the high conflict party just lashing out over a magnitude of non-related issues. In normal conflict situations, it’s a case of a disagreement over a particular issue
c. Is there give and take on both sides, even it’s after a cooling-off period? In high conflict situations, one party always backs down and compromises
What are the characteristics of a high conflict personality?
Blame - always blaming others, never themselves
All or nothing mentality - life is black or white. With them or against them. There is no middle ground
Wild emotions - anger erupts quickly and/or they may be manipulative.
Extreme behaviours - acts of violence or aggression or they may try and control or monitor your behaviour or they are financially abusive
Can high conflict personalities change?
Most probably no.
This is because they won’t take personal responsibility or accept blame. However, they may with professional and specialist counselling
If you are in a high conflict situation what can you do?
If it normal conflict then you can remedy the situation and you owe it to yourself, your partner and your children to at least address the situation You should look at how you communicate with your partner.
Do you listen to each other and try ad understand their point of view? If not, then you should both try to.
Perhaps allowing each to speak in turn, uninterrupted for 5 minutes
Alternatively, you may wish to consider relationship counselling If you decide to separate then establish a respectful means of communication by whatever channels work best for you both In a high conflict situation your priority is you and your children.
You should start to find space for yourself to gather your strength and energies in order to make the necessary changes to your life to leave your high conflict partner
Remember the conflict is not your fault
Keep your communications brief, informative, friendly and firm
If you are leaving or want to divorce a high conflict partner then you need a plan and the right legal and non-legal support
I have a vast amount of experience dealing with high conflict personalities in the context of divorce.
I am available to work with you should you decide to take back control of your life and move on