Most of us learned about relationships and marriage from our parents. It is said that marriage requires attention. The moment you stop working on it is the moment it begins to falter. This doesn’t sound like the Hollywood marriages we expect.
Your relationship as a living thing with three separate entities – you, your partner, and the relationship itself. Like all living things, it needs nourishment and protection, healing when it is sick, and space to grow and flourish. Cultivate it with thoughtfulness for the others’ needs, spend time together, and sometimes even time apart.
When things get stressful, as they almost always do in life and relationships, stop, and think of ways to improve it. Your relationship needs to move forward, changing as you both change and grow stronger.
This may be the time to seek Couples Counseling.
You learned to talk when you were very young. Talking and communicating are not the same. Healthy communication involves sharing your feelings in an open and honest manner. Understanding each other “should” be easy. Frequently is not. We react to what is said or maybe implied through our own filters created by life experiences and old scripts put in place possibly in early childhood. Many parents were wonderful, loving people but communicated feelings like two children. This may have been your model.
I help struggling couples. For a relationship to flourish in good times and bad there needs to be trust and safety. Betrayals may have taken place. People are often afraid to say or do something that may enrage or hurt their partner’s feelings causing them to think twice before discussing it. As a result, open, honest sharing and cooperation may not happen. This fear of vulnerability, mistrust, or anger can cause much damage.
In session, we talk about what is working well and what isn’t, deal with issues in the way of trust and comfort, and learn to communicate in new, more effective manner. Opening up, being receptive to the other’s’ concerns, taking responsibility for your own behavior, and demonstrating understanding may turn problems and negative feelings into warmth and closeness. It is that simple and that difficult. Most relationships improve dramatically in my office.
Leaving things unsaid have little chance of resolution and may build walls between you. No matter how long you have been together there are always things unknown, especially when unspoken or newly discovered. You may think your partner knows what you’re thinking, but what if they don’t? It is impossible to be sure without asking.
“A happy couple and an unhappy couple have the same problems; they just solve them differently.” ~ David Viscott