Couples looking for ways to improve their relationships often come to counseling. They often bring me their latest fight or argument as evidence of their difficulty. I listen to people’s stories of what followed arguments. I sense the hurt feelings and the sadness that accompanies these fights. Sometimes there are tears. Almost all the time there is anguish and disappointment.
Unmet Needs and Unspoken Issues Drive Conflict
It’s hard to think that these feelings would be appropriate considering the circumstances, but they are. It’s hard to talk about what doesn’t work. It’s hard to bring up the stuff that makes both people feel bad. But without a roadmap I can’t see what needs repair. I have to get a three dimensional view of a couple’s communication. Often, it’s not what is being said that reveals the truth.
What I’m really looking for is what people are feeling. Those feelings help me understand unspoken issues. Those unexpressed thoughts, feelings, and desires usually hold the key to the difficulty. It feels bad to fight with the person you love. No one feels good about it.
Fights are often a mechanism for getting our needs met. We might feel alone, neglected, or taken advantaged of in a relationship. We might even lash out against our mate when we feel that way, without being aware of those feelings. When feel pushed beyond our limits, we might snap because we feel too overwhelmed. Perhaps we’re just tired of not feeling understood.
These circumstances don’t feel good. No one wants to stay in them. One way to change the way we feel is to complain, criticize, stay silent or yell. All these actions will change the energy between you and your partner.
Fighting Is a Short Term Strategy—At Best
You may get what you want short term, but if these are your methods to get your needs met you are probably exhausted. Your life may be hard and perhaps you’re often tired. I want both of you to be happy and content and to feel your needs are being met. There are peaceful ways to make this happen, and I want to help you learn how.
Sometimes couples feel that a perfect relationship doesn’t have any fighting. I’ve worked with a lot of couples, and I’ve been around a lot of couples as most of us have in our lives. Have you met any couples with a perfect relationship? I haven’t.
Learn How to Help Yourself and Your Partner Feel Happier
I’m not saying to get used to the difficulty. I want you to be difficulty-free. What I am saying is learn how to be easy with each other. Learn how to understand your partner and help them be happy. Learn what makes you happy. Get good at asking for what you want. When you are happy, your partner will be happy. Happiness is a funny thing, it multiplies.
I talked to a lady recently that I had worked with a few months ago and she tells me she and her husband are doing great. I asked her how she accomplished this. She said she just stopped expecting things to be a certain way, and accepted life as it comes.
She also said she started taking care of herself and doing things for herself. That made her happier too. It sounded so simple. She worked hard to get where she is, and she feels good—in fact, better than ever!
Help Things Get Better with Effective Communication
Read a Book About Making Relationships Work
Learn more about how to communicate with your spouse by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It has conflict resolution strategies, tips for feeling heard, and suggestions on how to express your love and celebrate your relationship. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.