Hello and welcome back to the Therapy Spot, everyone! I’d like to wish each and every one of you a very happy Valentine’s Day. Whether you celebrate with your partner, friends, or your children, today is a wonderful day to express your love.

Today, however, I’d like to talk about something a little unusual for Valentine’s Day: fighting. Unfortunately, no matter how much we love our partners, fights happen. In fact, arguments and misunderstandings with our partners can be the most upsetting and volatile fights we have. That’s why I interviewed Mona Barbera today of all days.

Psychologist Mona Barbera offers IFS couples therapy and couples workshops in her private practice in Rhode Island. She is an Assistant Trainer for Internal Family Systems as well as a certified advanced Imago Relationship Therapist. Mona is also a committee chairperson of the New England Association for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. In other words, she’s the perfect person to ask about how to use IFS when we find ourselves in conflict with our partner.

When you and your partner argue, you might respond by getting angry, or withdrawing. Either way, at that moment, you two are anything but connected! Instead, your protector parts work overtime to rescue you from a “dangerous” situation. Listen along as Mona shares 3 ways to get back into connection when you have a fight.

Practice makes perfect

You may have noticed that we refer to Mona’s three methods as gifts to give your partner when you argue. If the idea of giving your partner a “gift” when you’re fighting doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. Every time you practice, you have actively chosen connection over conflict.

For more information on using the IFS lens in your relationship, I encourage you to check out Mona’s award-winning book. Bring Yourself to Love: How Couples Can Turn Disconnection into Intimacy is available on Amazon and at Selfleadership.org.