Couples often come to therapy in the first of four stages of the marital argument.   In couples therapy, the four stages of marital therapy parallel the four stages of the marital argument.

In the first stage, the couple is in the Attack and Defend stage. Here, couples fail to manage negativity and criticize each other. They respond to criticism with defensiveness. There is no validation for what they feel and neither feels listened to.

In the second stage of the marital argument, couples make a repair. Usually, they feel the intent of their message was completely  misunderstood and incorrectly received. During Repair, they make an attempt at correcting what went wrong during their argument. 

Collaboration in stage three.  The Collaboration stage in marital therapy is about validating what each partner says and feels.  The goal is to understand not necessarily agree with each other.

Admitting:  in the last stage of the marital argument, couples find that they can admit their role in the conflict.  

Stages of the Marital Argument

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