The objectives of session 4 are as follows:

  • To learn about common unhealthy/problematic thoughts associated with couple conflict and parenting
  • To identify your own unhealthy/problematic thoughts related to your couple conflict and parenting and how they impact you and your family

If you struggle with couple conflict and parenting problems, you will often experience numerous negative thoughts related to your family life and conflictual situations at home. In fact, you do not necessarily have to actually be in a certain situation with your partner or children to experience negative thoughts related to the problems, but rather it could be the mere thought of certain situations that produce negative thoughts for you. For example, if you learn that you and your partner will need to decide on summer camp options for your children, even before entering a discussion about it, you may have thoughts such as “I know we’re going to disagree on this. We go through this every year.” or “My husband will have a bad attitude because he hates the costs of summer camp.”

Thoughts that are related to couple conflict and parenting are typically negative, often unhelpful, and may be exaggerated (e.g., expecting the worst possible outcome) or completely untrue (e.g., making irrational predictions that have no basis in reality). And these negative thoughts may lead you to experience negative emotions and engage in negative behaviors with your partner and/or children that disrupt the whole family and your sense of peace at home.

The CBT terms for these types of thoughts are “cognitive errors” or “cognitive distortions.” In the next section, we describe common types of cognitive errors.