Are You Angry at Your Mate?

A lot of couples I work with are angry at their partner.  Sometimes this anger has been building for a long time.  When the couple finally gets into therapy they are so ready to explode and sometimes they just unleash on each other. 

When this happens while I watch the fight I already know a couple of things.  The first is that both are in a lot of pain.  The second is that neither is getting their needs met and the louder and longer the argument, the greater the chance each person is feeling isolated in the relationship.  When couples spend their time in a back and forth disagreeing state, that tells me they are spending less time in a state of togetherness.

The irony is that couples who live with this difficulty are desperate for closeness with each other, yet the arguing between them prevents exactly what they both want.

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When Couples Can’t Say What They Want To Say To Each Other

All the couples I work with have something in common.  They want a better relationship with their partner.  It’s universal.  We as humans want to be loved.  We want to feel safe, cared for, supported and nurtured.  We want the best out of life and we want it from our mate.

This is true with all relationships.  Who wants a relationship filled with hurt feelings, criticism, lack of support and silence?  None of the couple I work with.  In fact that’s usually what they talk about when I meet them.  They tell me what’s in their relationship now; fighting, sadness, aloneness, and they tell me they want that gone so they can feel the love again.

Most people think counseling is a way to remove the barriers that have crept in overtime and kept the couple from feeling connected.  The counselor is supposed to remove the barriers and then the couple is happy again. 

One time a client walked into the room and stated, “So this is where the magic happens.”  I laughed with him and responded, “Yes it is.  In fact my magic wand is right over there.”  We laughed again, but the truth behind that statement echoes what most people believe; therapy will fix the problem.

What I like to help people understand is that counseling helps couples understand themselves, their relationship and each other.  I’m their guide to help them in the process.  I know the real success lies in couples who can say everything to their partner without fear of hurting feelings or driving them away.  I know that happy couples know how to listen to their partners without taking everything personally or feeling they have to argue to the death to win an argument.

There are very few rules for a good relationship.  But these guidelines are important.  They sound a lot like the good book, or the Ten Commandments or any other philosophy that treats others with compassion.  They are simple because if you and your mate are conscious, you will not intentionally harm the other.  If you accidently hurt the other, your mate can tell you about the hurt and you can make amends immediately.  You recognize that holding on to hurt feelings harms you and your mate, it keeps you disconnected.  You work hard to resolve difficulties because you know that if you don’t they will build and build and you will have walls between you that leads to all the stuff you don’t want.

The recipe for a good relationship is simple.  The roadmap to getting there may not be.  Each person brings to a relationship his and her experiences from a lifetime of living without the partner.  Included in this history is an unconscious collection of rights and wrongs.  This collection is a template that people fit their lives on to. The rights and wrongs keep us safe in our world. When people find their mate there is an unconscious expectation that the mate will automatically understand the partner’s right-and-wrong template. A person might think, if he or she really loved me, they would automatically know what I needed.

Unfortunately each person brings his and her own template, and they differ.  Most people don’t talk about what they need in the relationship to keep them feeling safe and loved because most people don’t even think about it.  It’s unconscious.  You only are aware of it when it’s not working.  Something happens and you feel misunderstood.  Your perfect person doesn’t know that one important thing about you.  They must be heartless, or even, the wrong person.  The perfect person would know, automatically, because isn’t that what love is?

These are the issues you get to explore in counseling.  You become conscious of when you expect something from your partner without asking for it.  You gain the confidence in yourself to be able to ask for what you need.  You stop blaming your mate for not giving you what you needed when you haven’t let them know what it is.  It’s simple and it can be challenging.  Even so, it’s worth it.

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