I was walking the neighborhood recently with a friend and we passed by a car parked on the street. The windows were down so I could hear a young couple sitting in the front facing each other and having a discussion.
I heard a few words from the man. He was explaining something to the young woman about how his feelings were hurt. I could feel his earnestness, even after just a couple of moments. I also could tell that he was trying really hard to get her to understand him.
When we love someone and we get our feelings hurt, all of us do something about it. We cope with it differently. Some of us yell at our person to make things better. Some of us leave the situation when we feel hurt. And others freeze up and remain silent waiting for everything to pass.
I often talk about the first two, yelling at our partners or leaving after an argument, but I seldom give any thought to what silence from a mate can do to a relationship. But after working with a couple recently it’s clear that silence, however well-meaning, can have a detrimental effect on how people feel.
People in relationships want to be happy and peaceful. Couples all over the world share that wish. So why are relationships so fraught with difficulty and confusion? This is common too, and it’s something we can all do something about.
Unfortunately, most couples have one track for solving their problems—and it usually doesn’t work. Here’s why.
Being unhappy in a relationship is pretty common. Having an affair because of that unhappiness is also pretty common. When people feel lonely they will do almost anything to relieve the loneliness, including starting a relationship with another person.
I have counselled several couples where one of the mates turned to another to relieve whatever they were feeling. Usually they think they will never be caught by the other, but it often happens that the other already knows.
All relationships include someone being disappointed at some time. There is no escaping this feeling. This happens because you and your partner are different. You may want to do something that you like and your partner will say NO.
This leads to disappointment. I have experienced this feeling so many times I could not count them. And I have had to understand some of the things about this interaction to not take the experience personally.
I was working with a couple recently and had a chance to reflect on how often I see a similar situation like the one they are going through. I am talking about couples who seem on the brink of ending their relationship and miraculously finding their way back to each other.
It’s so remarkable how some couples can rebound after something really terrible and yet I see this happen again and again and again. In these cases, I believe these individuals want to be with their mates more than they want to leave them.
We all want to feel connected to the person we love. So, why is it so hard, when we get our feelings hurt, to feel connected? Why does it feel as if we are miles away from that space and as though there’s no way of getting back to it?
Getting hurt by the one we love happens in all relationships. Look back at your family when you grew up. Did you ever get your feelings hurt by someone? Maybe this happened because you fought with a sibling. It might have happened because you disagreed with a parent.
As you know I help couples when they are in distress about their relationships. When I meet a new couple I often invite each person to talk about what is happening for them in the relationship. This way I can begin to understand what feelings may not be addressed.
I also know that when people begin to talk about the relationship they have probably already been exhibiting behaviors that the other person is not too pleased about. The behaviors are usually what brings a couple into counseling, but I know as a therapist the feelings underneath— the feelings that people might not be aware of—are the real reason for the behaviors in the first place.
“How much love is enough?” I was thinking about love recently and this question popped into my mind as I pondered. I wondered about this, because I see so much hunger for love every time I meet a new couple in counseling.
A couple will come in and they will tell me their issues of what is usually wrong with their partner. They often have very great details of how much their mate has hurt them. I will listen to these stories and I am always left with the same feeling. They are all hungry for more love from the other.