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“Stop the Bickering!”

Bickering is the petty disputes you experience with another person, especially a loved one like a spouse, partner, or best friend. To bicker is human, but a frequent pattern that sabotages the pleasures of a relationship you both value needs a fix. Try this intervention: 1) Accept that quarreling is a problem and that you want to dramatically reduce it. (Agree to avoid bickering about who is more at fault.) 2) Participate in a 10-minute exercise together, listing as many adverse effects of bickering as possible. Include both visible effects, such as negative effects on children, and invisible effects, such as coping methods, negative self-talk, isolation, reduced intimacy, wasted time, withdrawal, recuperation time, resentment, even your reputation as the “Bickersons.” Write fast, and get it all down. 3) Practice with a behavioral change log. After the next bickering event, record the topic, how long it lasted, what you did well to end the bickering, what you can do better next time, and especially anything you learned or insights gained. After one week, share your experiences. Making major behavioral changes (new habits of communicating) will take four to six weeks.

If things stay rocky, seek a counselor and bring your notes for a speedier counseling experience.


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