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RELATIONSHIPS

Nasty, Neutral, or Nice: What Box Does Your Relationship Live In?

Neutral Relationship Conflict

In every interaction, every couple falls into one of three boxes: Nasty, Neutral, or Nice.

While many of us, including couples therapist, believe that a couple’s ability to be nice during conflict conversations determines the happiness of the relationship, Dr. Gottman’s research on thousands of couples highlights that happy couples often have far more neutral conversations that are emotionally dull.…

Avery: I’m sorry I overreacted about you not cooking dinner earlier. I’ve been really stressed with this new project at work and I should not have taken that out on you.

Blake: Yeah… that wasn’t fun and I know work is chaotic for you right now. I also know you get overwhelmed when things feel unorganized and the lack of organization on this work project has been hard on you.2

Avery: I know. It’s so frustrating. I’m trying everything and it’s such a messy.

Blake: I get that. How about we treat ourselves tonight to some take out?

Avery: Our favorite place?

Blake: Duh!

Avery walks over and gives Blake a big hug and kiss.

Sounds like a dream conflict conversation doesn’t it?

This elusive nice box is built on the foundation of mutual respect, affection, and cherishing one another. I have yet to meet a couple who consistently stays in this box.

When nice couples argue, they don’t always say the “right” thing in the best way possible, but despite their imperfect conversation, they work through the issue together.

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