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Relationship Righteousness: When Petty Brain Starts Messing with Your Bliss

“The way I organized the closet was perfect, it gave us extra space and looked fine. I get that you tried to help, but it looks dumb and didn’t even need to be done.”



I am sure we have all had those petty arguments in relationships, you know the ones that get heated, quickly. First, you are talking about the re-organized closet and then suddenly you’ve called your partner controlling and she’s yelling that she’s not your mother. Those kinds of arguments sneak up on you, you were unprepared. It’s not like those big issues where you mentally prepare yourself to talk about it, scheduled when the kids aren’t around… perfectly timed so that you can both be rational and show up with your wise adult mind. No, no. These arguments appear petty and small and they can be destructive when they start to pile on. Let’s be real here, if you have enough of these squabbles you’ve likely thrown out hurtful words to your partner and done enough damage to leave lingering marks. 


Squabbles Happen

Squabbles happen, my friend. They are ever-present in any relationship. After all you are two people with completely different life stories, issues, points of view, and possibly… relationship hurts. So in this case, there is no avoiding the avoidable, but there are ways to make the squabble less… squabbl-y.


Tone Matters

Your mouth is a weapon and also life-giving. How you say something is often more important than what you are saying. The emotional brain gets triggered when we pair facial expressions and aggressive/accusatory/mean (etc) tones. I cannot listen to someone and have a rational conversation when my emotional brain gets hijacked because my partner just talked down to me the same way my ex… or my father (that’s a blog for another day). The context does not matter as much as the way something is said.


Beware of Petty Brain

On top of that, a petty brain is a thing. Petty brain says “Oh yeah, I’ll show you!” It likes to make small jabs and has been waiting for the perfect moment that it can bring out that thing that has reeeally been bothering you. The petty brain is great at off-roading a conversation and it is simply self-righteousness. Self-righteousness has no place in a relationship; you can be right or you can be partnered, but you can’t be both. 


When I think of some of the worst arguments within my relationship, it is typically centered around control. When either of us feels like we are giving too much of our autonomy it inhibits the way we view the partnership. The more we can die to ourselves and see that we are a we the better we are at making decisions that are supportive of partnership. 


At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX, we specialize in helping couples like you navigate arguments and resolve conflict.


Learn more about the Relationship Therapy services we offer.


Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.

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