Peace or Ceasefire? Surviving the Trenches in Your Relationship

Peace or Ceasefire? Surviving the Trenches in Your Relationship

If you’ve ever been (or maybe currently are) in a relationship with frequent conflict or fighting, you’re likely already familiar with the different ways that problems or issues can be “resolved” – and the different feelings and emotions these types of resolution can bring. 

While every relationship is different and dynamics can frequently shift, even over the course of a day, in my practice with many types of couples I’ve noticed themes or tendencies that conflict resolutions tend to take. It can be helpful to think about these varied resolution types as being analogous to either a peace treaty or a temporary ceasefire. 

Think about the differences inherent in both of those agreements – in a legal sense there are a host of differentiations, but for this exercise, let’s define peace treaties as “a negotiated resolution or remediation of issues driving the conflict”, and we can refer to a ceasefire as being “a negotiated pause of hostilities”. When defined like this, it’s clearly evident which option most couples would select to end a conflict with, given the choice! 

Unfortunately in the real world of relationships, ceasefires are selected due to factors like: exhaustion with the topic, events or activities interrupting the discussion, or simply miscommunication. While interruptions are oftentimes inevitable and sometimes people do simply need a break, miscommunication in the aftermath of a relationship conflict can be damaging, making it important to handle these situations with care.

If communication isn’t clear, this can easily lead Partner A to believe that the issue has been resolved (peace treaty) while Partner B believes that the topic has simply been tabled for another time (ceasefire). Consequently, when the partner who perceives a ceasefire looks to reopen the discussion, Partner A can, quite understandably, feel like the treaty has been broken. When these feelings occur, not only is the engagement less likely to end in a satisfactory way for both partners, but also can cause trust issues to develop – all over a misunderstanding that can in many cases be avoided. 

Stopping the Conflict

The key to avoiding this trap is to communicate clearly and understandably when emotions are heightened. Regardless of the reason for the discussion ending, especially if you’re the one initiating the end, it’s a good idea to ask your partner something like “I feel as though we’ve resolved this problem – do you feel similarly or do we need to return to this at a later time?” 

Even when the answer seems very obvious, asking questions like this serves two purposes: 

  1. Avoiding misunderstanding. 
  2. Reassuring your partner that even after a conflict, your concern and caring for them has remained unchanged and you remain committed to fixing whatever issues exist between the two of you. 

About the Author

Headshot of Pete Campie, LMFTPete Campie, LMFT, C-DBT sees individuals, couples and families in Cedar Rapids, IA or online. He offers early morning or daytime appointments.







Managing Stress When Current Events Are Chaotic

Managing Stress When Current Events Are Chaotic

As therapists, stress is a constant factor affecting our clients and treatment. One topic that frequently creates stress is current events. While normal life stresses such as work concerns, parenting, and relationships can already create havoc, trying to keep anxious thoughts and feelings under control when the outside world seems unpredictable or dangerous can be even more difficult.

Media of all types has a clear interest in ensuring you feel something when consuming its content – including social media. Think of local TV news asking ominous questions like: “What could be lurking in your water supply? Tune in tonight at 10 for more!” It’s easy to see why advertisements like this or intense posts on social media can affect our mood and outlook on the world – it’s scary to think something dangerous may be in the water supply!

With news alerts and social media feeds continuing to allow us to see the gritty reality of issues like politics, war, or hunger, it’s hard to know what to do, how to help, or even how to stop focusing on problems for a while so you can mentally recover. Giving yourself time to recharge can help ensure you manage the anxiety and feelings of powerlessness that can accompany while staying engaged with the world. Let’s take a look:

1. Map What You Can Control

When an event, issue is making headlines, it can be natural to feel worry or stress. In these situations, it can be a good practice to reflect on your place in the world in relation to the issue.

Consider: If the issue does not affect you personally and you’re not in a position of influence or power to affect changes directly, making that fact explicit in your mind can help calm your nerves. Keeping this in mind can even help you more effectively engage in methods that actually can affect the issue you feel passionately about. You’ll spend less time worried about things that are out of your control and can use that time to find ways to help or engage in ways available to you.

2. Do What You Can

As you map what is and is not within your control, it’s likely you’ll realize that even with the most far-flung issues, there will be things that you can control and ways you can contribute. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the area of contribution may be, taking action can not only help solve the issue, but also help you manage your feelings by feeling more ownership and security in your own place in the world.

Even if you can’t solve the problem directly, being part of what you see as the solution can take care of the nagging, critical part of your mind that says “you’re not doing enough”.

3. Know (and Accept) Your Limits

Even if you find a good way to contribute to solving the issue you’re worried about, it’s important to remember you’re only one person and your ability to help is limited by definition.

Be honest with yourself about how much of any given resource (money, volunteer time, even attention!) you can commit to an issue. Giving yourself permission to set limits for your contribution, no matter the form, can help avoid the feelings of powerlessness that can come from seeing what seems like a steady barrage of problems.

Be sure to adhere to your limits as well, even when it’s hard. The key is to keep yourself able to engage with finding solutions to our larger problems without becoming so bogged down that you end up burnt out and disengaged.

Stresses from outside sources can affect anyone. Let’s talk about it. Call 319-320-7506 to schedule an appointment today.

About the Author

Headshot of Pete Campie, LMFTPete Campie, LMFT sees individuals, couples and families in Cedar Rapids, IA or online. He offers early morning or daytime appointments.





Why Prioritizing Sleep Matters

Why Prioritizing Sleep Matters

While most of us know that not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to our physical health, leading to increased fatigue and putting us at risk of several medical conditions, lack of rest also affects our mental health significantly. This, of course, doesn’t stop many of us from choosing work, entertainment, or other distractions instead of the amount of sleep that we need – more than 1 in 3 Americans report sleeping less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours per night.

So why should we prioritize finding opportunities to sleep longer?

Rest is Crucial to Mental Functioning

Without adequate time to rest via sleep, your mind will be less able to respond to the challenges of daily life, and you may experience mood disruptions.

Much like rest being one of the most common suggestions to accelerate healing after a physical injury, giving your brain time to recover from each successive day can be crucial in providing you the opportunity to subconsciously process issues, feelings, and emotions. Just like it’s important to set boundaries in relationships, it’s also important to set boundaries for your waking hours to ensure you’re able to function and feel as positive and energized as possible.

Routine Matters

Beyond the well-documented physical benefits of getting enough sleep, the other main benefit from a mental health perspective is in helping to establish and build healthy habits for yourself.

By establishing a pattern of going to bed and subsequently waking up simultaneously, you build personal discipline and incorporate more predictability into your daily routine – which can help assimilate other healthy self-care habits as time goes on.

Ways to Strategize Your Way to More Rest

  • Stick to your schedule! While life can be hectic and responsibilities change quickly, do your best to stay consistent day-to-day.
  • Minimize distractions. Even on low-light output settings, looking at screens such as phones, tablets, or even TVs can make it harder to get to sleep. Try to eliminate or at least reduce your screen time for about an hour before going to bed.
  • Incorporate calming habits. Practices like meditation or reading a book before bed can be not only suitable substitutes for screen time but can also help you calm down and function as part of your self-care routine along with sleep.
Get to Know Pete Campie, T-LMFT

Get to Know Pete Campie, T-LMFT

“So, outside my time in therapy, I have three kids, one is 13, one is seven, and one is two.

So, I really don’t have any free time, don’t believe that I have any free time. I chase kids all the time. When I do manage to steal a moment for myself, I really like to be outdoors, I’m a really big sports fan, I spend time with family, but most of the time yeah, you’ll either catch me at the lake or chasing kids.

Oh, that’s a good one. So, I’ve had the mustache for about a year. When you’re in grad school for therapy they always tell you, as a man, to grow facial hair because I’m kind of young. I’m only 31 so they tell you to grow facial hair that way people think you’re distinguished and know what you’re talking about. So that’s how I did it, with the Stache.

My favorite of my tattoos would be this one. Leon is my son’s name, and one of my clinical focuses is co-parenting. And I think I’m good at that or at least passable at that, because I too am divorced, and a co-parent. So not only is it significant kind of clinically but it’s also of course significant because I love my son.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about me. I am accepting new clients right now; I have availability in the mornings and in the afternoons. So, if you want to visit our website or give us a call you can ask for Pete. I’ll be excited to learn a little bit more about you when we meet each other.”

Get to Know Pete Campie, T-LMFT

Pete Campie’s Tips and Tricks for Telehealth

“Hi, my name is Pete Campie. I’m a marriage and family therapist at Cedar Rapids Counseling Center, and today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to get the most out of your therapy session if you’re doing it via telehealth. No matter what platform you’re using to do it via telehealth there are challenges that come up that are specific to video conferencing and can really hamper your ability to get the most out of those sessions. As therapists, we are, of course, doing a lot more sessions, via teleconference, and you know with that experience we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. These can really help you minimize distractions and really find what you’re looking for out of those sessions, even if it is something that you’re doing on your computer or your phone.

Well, my first tip is to really be mindful of the time and try to get the most out of each minute that you can. Most of our sessions will last about an hour, it’s good to have a drink, it’s good to have you know, access to anything you might need over the course of that hour, just so that you don’t break up the continuity or have to get up and leave or something like that. Which, you know, when we’re talking about feelings can definitely be can be a challenge or a roadblock.

The second focus area that I wanted to cover was distractions, mostly because they’re everywhere. Whether you’ve got kids, pets, maybe a loud partner in the other room, all those things can really make it hard to focus on what you’re trying to focus on in your therapy session. Now obviously we can’t do anything about the guy with no muffler blowing down your road, but if you work on managing the distractions that you can predict, hopefully, the distractions that you can’t predict will be less disruptive.

The last piece of getting the most out of your teletherapy session is technical issues. Since these are done on your computer, on your phone it’s very common to have issues with the camera, issues with the microphone, even issues with your Wi-Fi. What I find to be helpful is to test these things out before you get on to your session. You know, maybe five or 10 minutes before the session, see if you can get your computer camera working, make sure that it’s pointing in the right direction. Make sure that you don’t have any cords that you might trip on or anything that could be in the way. As far as your physical setup, but also your computer setup, you know, if you have push notifications that frequently come across the phone, mine always made this really loud ding. So, you might want to silence those as well if you’re planning to do your session on your phone.

Thanks for taking the time to listen to a few of these tips and tricks to get the most out of your telehealth session, hopefully, some of them have been useful. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about me or the Cedar Rapids Counseling Center, feel free to visit our website, give us a call. I am accepting new clients, and I do sessions, both in-person and via telehealth so if you’d like you can put all these tips to use when you talk to me.”

Get to Know Pete Campie, T-LMFT

Meet Pete Campie, T-LMFT

“Hi my name is Pete Campie. I’m a marriage and family therapist at Cedar Rapids Counseling Center. Originally, I hail from the Quad Cities. I found myself in Cedar Rapids as a result of going to college here. I met my wife up in the Iowa City area and I live down south of Iowa City now. So, I am a corridor local, maybe not a native, but a local.

I found myself in therapy, first as a client, and now obviously as a clinician, but first as a client. I found myself kind of struggling with depression and anxiety. My experience in therapy was so overwhelmingly positive that I wondered if I could bring that positivity to other people the same way that it had benefited me. I attended Mount Mercy University for my graduate degree, and I really enjoyed getting to communicate with people and getting to connect with people and really kind of understand where they’re at, and hopefully being able to walk alongside them as a kind of engage with challenges in their own lives.

What I find rewarding about doing therapy is that ability to connect with people and reach people in a way that in our modern society, we really don’t focus on. I really pride myself on creating authentic connections and meaningful connections. And I think that is the most rewarding part of working as a therapist is getting to hear a lot of people’s stories and share a lot of people’s burdens with them. So, if you’re seeing me for the first time, I would hope that you’d find me relatable and approachable. I can’t speak to how very many other therapists approach the process of therapy, but I really try to take a non-directive approach. So, you can expect to have a conversation, certainly not an interrogation. I won’t pepper you with questions unless you want that. If you’d like to be peppered with questions, I’m happy to do it, but most of the time, we’ll just be talking.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about me, I am accepting new clients right now. I have availability in the mornings and in the afternoons. So, if you want a visit our website or give us a call you can ask for Pete. I’ll be excited to learn a little bit more about you when we meet each other.”