I have had the great opportunity to work with many, many different types of couples in my practice as a couple’s counselor. I have also had the opportunity to write about different relationship problems, because I have encountered them or observed them in my friends, family, and clients.
So now I am writing about another issue that has been cropping up lately, and that is: what to do about the “explainer?”
So, first of all, what is an explainer? This is a person who when he or she gets their feelings hurt turns to many, many words to explain what happened to them and how their partner failed them.
It’s funny to think of not being good at “living” life. All of us, as humans, pride ourselves at being effective. Every one of us does things to the best of our ability. And yet, many relationships are not satisfying to the people in them. And many people wonder why being in a relationship is so hard.
Well, there are good reasons for relationship challenges. For starters, where did you learn how to be in a relationship? Maybe you saw some movies or watched other people. Maybe you saw examples of what not to do and vowed to do something different. Or perhaps you had examples that you thought were good but they are not proving to work in your current relationship.
I think it comes as a surprise to most of us that the person we love usually is the one who causes us the most pain and suffering. Many of us imagine living happily ever after with the one we fall in love with.
We have these dreams of everything just being beautiful and romantic and perfect. And maybe it is for a while. But somewhere along the line things start to change and that perfect feeling of everything being just wonderful starts to diminish.
When we love our partners we really love them. But when we are mad at them, we don’t love them as much. I think this is probably the most common behavior humans exhibit in every relationship they are in.
It makes sense, in a way. When we get our feelings hurt, we pull ourselves inside and hide so we can take care of our pain. I know I do. But when we do that we disconnect from everything and everyone.
All of us get our feelings hurt. It happens to everyone who interacts with other human beings. Someone will say something and we will feel a sting inside us. We all respond to this sting and some of us actually try and take the person’s head off because of it.
Some of us just steam inside and aren’t even able to let someone know we are suffering. Yes, all of us get our feelings hurt. But when we are in a relationship with another person and we want the relationship to last we have to find a way to get our hurt feelings across without making the other person the bad guy.
Often in relationships there is one person who knows what they feel and easily expresses it. Funny how this person usually couples with someone who is not expressive, instead their partner stays quiet and you might not even know anything is wrong.
This is more common than you can imagine. As a couples counselor I see it in almost every couple. I often talk about how to curb big feelings because I am a big feeling expressive type.
And my husband is the silent one. No emotion. Maybe a slight frown, but that is about it. When I get upset, everyone knows it. It can’t hide it. My face shows it immediately and my voice may say something about it as well.
When our feelings get hurt, all of us do something. We might close up and feel bad. We could get loud and yell. And some of us are good at cutting people down with rather pointed words.
All of these behaviors are designed to either stop the pain, whether we shut down or take someone’s head off. We are doing something because we feel terrible inside.
I was thinking about the concept that most people in relationships and in their lives hold some great vision of what their life would look and feel like if it was only better.
I see this play out in many of the counseling sessions I have with couples. A couple will come in and they tell me what is happening in their relationship and how the relationship isn’t working. They might also give me a window into what they have been waiting for, their ideal partnership, the one that runs perfectly.
It is common to be misunderstood in your relationship. I’m a couples counselor. The number one thing people want fixed, when they come to my therapy room, is “being misunderstood.” Only they don’t call it a misunderstanding: they call it “communication”.
So if we are not being understood by our partner, or we don’t know how to communicate with them, what do we do? Well there are a lot of things that I know about, and none of them come naturally to us at all. But we can learn them.
All of us dream of having the perfect relationship with the person we love. In fact, when we meet our perfect person we imagine that everything will always be wonderful and that we will have a great life with them.
But what happens when we are in the relationship for a while is that we might start to notice that not everything is perfect, and we actually are now in love with and committed to someone who we see has some, well, flaws.