Caitlyn and Kris Jenner: How Can Exes Have Opposite Views of the Same Marriage?

Caitlyn Jenner and Kris Jenner talked about their marriage with Vanity Fair. (Photo: Vanity Fair/Corbis/Jenna Blake)

Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) made headlines yesterday after revealing her new name and appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair. In the issue, the 65-year-old talks about her lifelong struggle with gender identity, as well as the happiness she feels now that she can live as the person she always felt she was inside. But she also talks about her 23-year marriage to Kris Jenner, which officially ended late last year — and the things she had to say weren’t positive.

Catch some behind-the-scenes action from Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair shoot. (Video: Vanity Fair)

“The first 15 years I felt she needed me more because I was the breadwinner,” Caitlyn told Vanity Fair. “Then really around the show, when that hit and she was running the whole show and getting credit for it and she had her own money, she didn’t need me as much from that standpoint. … I think in a lot of ways she became less tolerant of me.”

Caitlyn added: “A lot of times she wasn’t very nice.”

The magazine also spoke to Kris, who had a different view of what went south in their relationship. “He was married to me and he wasn’t who he wanted to be so he was miserable,” she said. “All I was doing was working very hard for my family so that we could all have a wonderful future, and he was pissed off.”

While we don’t know exactly what went on behind closed doors, it seems like they could both be right. But how can two people have such different ideas of what happened in their marriage? And is this normal?

“This is so common,” licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago, tells Yahoo Health. “I see many couples who experience this. They’re both not wrong, they just have a piece of the story.”

Related: The Number One Relationship Problem, According To Therapists — and How to Fix It

According to Dana Baerger, PhD, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, couples can have dramatically different views on what happened in the same conflict because of a phenomenon known as Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA). DPA is basically a state of high mental arousal, she explains to Yahoo Health, and it’s part of the reason why couples can feel flooded, overwhelmed, or shell-shocked during a fight.

Unfortunately, DPA also shuts down the parts of our brain involved with information processing, problem solving, and empathy — all skills that couples need in order to listen to each other and think rationally during a conflict.

As a result, Baerger says, this typically leads to one of two outcomes: The fight gets drawn out, with increasingly hostile exchanges, or both people withdraw from the conflict and avoid each other’s attempt at resolving the issue.

“Unfortunately, both outcomes increase the likelihood of future conflict regarding the very same issue,” says Baerger.

And, if the issue never gets resolved or discussed, it can come back with both partners still having different views on what has happened. “It’s like scar tissue — it can build up and become worse over time,” says Klow.

It is possible to make sure you’re on the same page with your partner after a conflict, says Klow — and it’s crucial for the health of your relationship.

Related: 7 Celebrity Couples Who’ve Gone to Counseling

When you’ve cooled down after a fight, he recommends talking about what happened. During that talk, he says, it’s important to listen to your partner’s point of view and acknowledge it. Even if you don’t agree with it, at least you know where your partner is coming from so you’re not blindsided in the future.

Next, it’s important to diffuse future tension around the topic that sparked the fight and to make sure you’re viewing it the same way. Baerger recommends asking your partner for confirmation or clarification on what you would both like going forward and how you can prevent future arguments from escalating in the same way.

“In the aftermath of a fight, the focus should be on reconnecting, repairing whatever damage has occurred, and learning from the incident in order to improve and strengthen your bond,” says Baerger.

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