Couples are sometimes embarrassed to tell me how they communicate, especially in a heated argument. They often blame one another for making them feel terrible. I usually hear something like, “He always does this,” “She never stops doing that.”
Both people are locked in their pattern of responding to the other. These patterns cement over time. When people get to the end of their rope they say the most emphatic thing to the other person so they can to be heard. Sometimes it’s really harsh. And when a couple gets to this point they are locked in dueling tirades.
Sometimes when people call to find out about couples counseling I can hear panic in their voice. I can sense a feeling of worry and fear. Something broke and the person on the phone doesn’t know how to fix it and that’s why they are calling.
This is a terrible place to find yourself: not knowing if you can make it in your relationship, wondering if it’s broken, and daring to hope it can ever be better. All this is pressing on the individual who is making the call. It’s a helpless kind of feeling. It’s as if their past experience amounts to nothing, and they must do something radical to survive.
Most people who grow up believing in the power of love don’t understand why relationships fall apart, especially when people love each other. Why isn’t love enough to keep people together?
Falling in love is one of the most wonderful parts of being human. When we feel connected to another person our soul feels as if it has found a home. We feel understood and safe. We feel whole. This is the most exhilarating time in a relationship. It is also a temporary phase.
Even when couples want to improve their relationship, if resentment has built up between them it will stand in the way. Both know it’s there, and no one knows what to do about it. So what can you do? One way is to seek counseling learn how to get rid of it.
Unfortunately the resentment can’t just be destroyed; it’s become a part of the person who is holding on to it. It’s with them when they wake in the morning and think of their mate. It’s there when they talk to their friends. It’s present in a conversation with their partner. It’s always there, like a thick fog that surrounds everything.