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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk with relationship expert Bruce Muzik about couples fighting and why poor communication isn’t the problem.

In this podcast you’ll find:

Bruce Muzik Love at First Fight

Relationships go thru stages.

  1. Romance stage: Happens at first meeting when love is new. Only see good in each other and only show each other the good in us. Lasts from 2 weeks to 2 years. Ends when one or both perceive permanence – moving in together, get engaged, get married, get pregnant. Romance endorphins stop being made and we go into withdrawals, which leads to:
  2. Power struggle stage: Rose colored glasses fall off. Start seeing a dark side in our partners. “You need to change, not me.” Fighting. We love the other person so much we can’t bear the thought of being without them, but we can’t bear the thought of being with them in the same way we were during the romance phase. Most people don’t make it thru the power struggle phase.
  3. Mature Love Stage: Once you hit mature love you stop trying to change each other and accept each other – warts and all. Mutually dependent. Relationship inspires you to be more flexible, capable, and resourceful. You are better as a team than as an individual. You will never go back to the romance stage. The romance stage is shallow compared to the mature stage.

Faulty programming that relationships shouldn’t be hard. “True love doesn’t bring struggle.”

Get rid of all the beliefs that are just plain wrong.

If you don’t have the tools to resolve the conflict most people end up fighting it out.

If you are insecure you will keep fighting the same fights over and over again until you get tired of the battle.

Most couples, even the ones on the verge of divorce, still love each other deep down inside.

We go from being children (romance stage) to teenagers (power struggle stage) to adulthood (mature love stage). Dependence > Independence > Interdependence.

Nature pulls us toward our reciprocal opposite in order to heal the wounds from childhood. Nature drives us to heal and grow. Because all of us grew up wounded in some way, we grew up with certain strengths and weaknesses. We are drawn to people who balance out our weaknesses.

The couples who are most attracted to each other are usually opposite dichotomies: I/E, T/F, P/J, S/N

The more opposite you are the more spark there will be in the relationship and the more conflict there will be.

The more similar you are the less chemistry there is going to be and the easier it will be to get along. These partnerships will have to work harder at creating chemistry.

There isn’t any MBTI type that is better suited for any other.

In the romance stage you merge your identity with your partner in a way that is immature. Like a child merges with its mother. Power struggle is relationship individuating. You’re no longer enmeshed in each other. The relationship needs to mature so each can have separate lives and still be a couple. The union creates a third entity that is totally separate form each individual’s needs.

Mature love is able to maintain autonomy and stay connected as a couple. Like two people nurturing a child – the couple is their child. Otherwise, the couple is everything to the two people, and they have no independence. If one chooses to break free it threatens the other and all hell breaks loose. Or one never breaks free and a codependent situation is developed. Two people against the world.

The power struggle stage serves the purpose of having you individuate from romance and become mature. If you don’t make it to the mature love stage then you have neglected the relationship due to excessive independence.

Independence is not the pinnacle of human achievement. Its 2 of only 3 stages. Interdependence is the pinnacle of human achievement. (Dependence>Independence>Interdepedence)

Modern dating is composed of a bunch of people who are terrified of depending upon other people. We have put independence on this pedestal where it doesn’t belong.

Independence is teenaged development. Not the end of the line.

You need your partner for sex, intimacy, comfort, companionship, co-parent.

We are needy and that is okay! Unhealthy neediness is what is usually found in the romance stage. Healthy neediness is found in the mature stage. Depend upon each other and still be two autonomous human beings.

4 free videos on Love At First Fight to help in overcoming the power struggle.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that the power struggle represents a breakdown in communication. The actual challenge is connection. We are trying to learn to communicate better in order to have a better connection. Putting the cart before the horse. If you learn how to stay connected your communication will be soft, loving, kind, compassionate, and empathetic. You aren’t triggered. You don’t see your partner as the enemy.

IMAGO podcast

Connect first. Communicate later.

Connection exercise:

  • Gaze into each other’s eyes for 5 minutes a day, every day for 60 days. When you wake up in the morning, set the countdown timer on your phone, and stare into your partner’s eyes. Choose one eye and gaze into it. You can change eyes on alternate days. But choose one eye each day. Not a competition. Not a stare down. Common response is laughter. Resume eye contact after every break or fidget. Breath. Some break into tears. Animals when fighting don’t make eye contact. When you don’t make eye contact with your partner you stop seeing them as human. This exercise rehumanizes your partner.

Repressing bad feelings results in repressing all feelings, even the good ones.

Demonstrate to a resistant partner that they are safe with you. After about a month most partners will be brought on board. The core fear of partner who don’t want to do the work is rejection. They are afraid they are somehow flawed in the context of love and if they allow their partner to get too close their partner will discover who they are and reject them. The cure for rejection is unconditional acceptance.

Assure your partner that no matter what you will never reject or abandon them. Don’t expect them to open up at once after a lifetime of hiding in their shell.

If your relationship has hit the power struggle stage, if you are fighting, if your sex life has lost its zest, or if there are certain topics you just can’t address you are in a power struggle.

John Gottman: #1 predictor of divorce is couples who don’t fight.

Love At First Fight

In this episode Joel and Antonia talk with relationship expert Bruce Muzik about couples fighting and why poor communication isn't the problem. #relationshipadvice #love

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  • Riki
    • Riki
    • March 16, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Great stuff and I love how he explains the stages of marriage it’s so true, about matches .i don’t see a isfj as complete opposite or worst match . Although can be lacking something . But I think it comes down to what ur priorities are in marriage. Any two types can live in peace . But will they admire and appreciate each others the same way a similr type will? I can’t see that. But maybe not everyone cares. As long I didn’t meet someone similr to me yet slightly different me (a intp and met a entj. ) I was fine with my xnfp friends and I still love them but it’s still not same as being with a Entj or Entp. I know that it depends on the flavor of the type too. Like Joel is enfp and is quit different from my enfp type 2 friend. But overall when it’s very different the types something just lacks and has more possibility of falling apart of not feeling satisfied in long run ..

  • Amelia
    • Amelia
    • January 29, 2018 at 5:48 am

    Wow wow wow …
    What a grace-filled deepening and refreshing and opening up of perspectives that I highly value. Thank you for pouring out.

  • Renie B
    • Renie B
    • June 14, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Knew to this podcast but really enjoyed this episode with Bruce! What resonated for me was dispelling the myth that a relationship should always return from the power struggle stage to the chemical romance of the honeymoon phase, in order to be healthy and valid. I’ve spent the past 18 years serial monagaming with 2 different partners who whole heartedly believed in this myth. As a result, in both instances we were set up for failure from the outset and my partner left me to find a new rush of chemical romance when I couldn’t produce the euphoria and excitement of our past. Thank you for highlighting that passion and connected intimacy is possible and important in the mature love stage, but it is not and will not ever be the same as the romance stage. And that’s normal and ok.

    Also, we are pack animals! We need community, connection and support. We may pride ourselves on independence, but that is a modern societal construct and not human nature. In complete independence we experience isolation, and that isn’t a positive. Interdependence is sorely underdiscussed and independence is overrated (to some extent). I’m learning all about this after taking a multi-year break from relationships to heal and grow, and also in living alone for the first time. The solitude has been essential for my progress, but has been lonely at times (beyond the company of friends).

    Thanks for the great content!

  • Kerry
    • Kerry
    • August 20, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks so much for having Bruce on the podcast! Love the fact that there is a teacher out there who is both informed by type theory and also some truly effective relationship theory like John Gottman. Many of the points really resonated with me, but especially the one about fostering a feeling of safety. Feeling good about my relationship really is predicated on feeling a sense of commitment and reassurance from my partner.

    I actually went and signed up for the course with my partner, and we’re finding it immensely useful. Thanks for a consistently wonderful podcast!

  • Taylor
    • Taylor
    • May 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for the reply!

    I’m still not 100% convinced this is a universal experience among all types, but I also haven’t convinced myself its not. I can’t write it off because I know I’m biased: I’m a knobhead when it comes to being in touch with my past and Si matters.

    I guess I’d be interested in what “irrespective of type means” as in, from all types or most types?

    Its because I often wonder how many patterns are universal, and how many patterns are just an observance of the majority.

    For example, many studies show women are better at multitasking. Is it simply a direct gender tie, that being a woman=being good at multitasking, or an indirect gender tie, that there’s a far greater proportion of women with Te and Fe as their top two functions. Maybe an INTP or INFP woman can’t relate to being good at multitasking, since their top two functions are focused on digging deep and exploring rather than making quick decisive outward judgements (Fe and Te)

    Similarly, we might notice the pattern women tend to make more decisions based on feelings than men. Again, the INTP woman might not resonant with this because that pattern is based on the fact 75% of women are feelers.

    Roughly 65% of people use Si as one of their 4 functions, and 35% use Se. That means there’s a greater proportion of the population whose actions are consciously influenced by Si matters. Just because a function isn’t in your “top 4” doesn’t mean it doesn’t unconsciously influence you, but I have a hard time seeing it playing a significant role in ones decisions, since the top 4 functions are all trying to get their voices heard first.

    Again, this is assuming childhood wounds and love modeled from our parents is directly related to Si.

    With all that said, I have noticed amongst my friends that, those who come from tight knit happy loving families chose relatively healthy partners for themselves, more often than those who didn’t have a great family background. I don’t know if that’s because they were looking for the same model of love they knew, or if its because in general, we attract people, friends, partners into our lives on the same “wavelength” and level of development as us. My guess is, if you grew up with well developed parents you had a better environment for developing yourself than a dysfunctional family environment.

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