The Benefit of "I Love You, And....."
It's not unusual for two people to disagree with each other. In a committed relationship the presence of occasional conflict is inevitable, although the way couples deal with this issue varies widely.
Sometimes one person may find it necessary to disengage from an argument in order to avoid escalation into verbal abuse or other destructive behavior. Unfortunately it can be difficult to leave in the middle of a conflict because the other person can perceive this as rejection, abandonment or passive-aggressive hostility.
This is where a simple phrase such as "I love you, and I have to get away from you" can be extremely helpful. Since it can be easy for a person under stress to perceive disagreement with a topic as a rejection of his or her basic worth, the overt statement of affection can stabilize a high-stress situation. "I love you, and....." can be helpful in a wide variety of situation.
"I love you, and I'm angry at you right now"; "I love, you but I really disagree with you"; even "I love you, but I can't stand the sight of you right now" are all examples of this emotionally grounding phrase. It certainly doesn't make everything perfect, but when a positive statement of affection is consciously injected into a conflict the results can be extremely beneficial.
It's helpful to remember that love doesn't mean the absence of conflict, and conflict doesn't mean the absence of love. "I love you, and....." is one way to recognize this fact and is a healthy way to grow a mature, adult relationship.
Bill Herring, LCSW, CSAT helps individuals and couples live happier, healthier lives. In addition to his general practice he devotes a large percentage of his time helping couples recover from intimate betrayals of trust.