When your relationship is in crisis – it’s easy to forget why you got into the relationship in the first place. There are times where you are questioning why you chose the partner you are with, and even if they are the same person you originally fell in love with.
It’s so easy to lose yourself in your relationship, in your family, in your work. All the pressures of life can come in and overwhelm you and leave you questioning if you are the same people who started off the relationship. Do you even want the same things anymore, and is that a problem if you don’t?
Connecting with another person is fantastic – you discover that you both like the somethings, you have the same values, you feel like you can really trust this other person with your needs and emotional safety. It is a cosy, safe space for you both to develop a deeper understanding of each other and define your relationship.
But what happens when you disagree on something? Or when life throws an unexpected curveball and you find yourselves on opposite sides of an issue.
This is where you begin to develop in the relationship – conflict is inevitable in a relationship and you need to develop the skills to navigate this conflict without causing your relationship damage.
Who am I?
Understand yourself first. If you can identify what is going on for you in a conflict and put your needs in the conflict on the table, that’s a great start. Most of us are not great at showing that vulnerable side of ourselves. The challenge is to change how you view the conflict, and how you react. You can’t expect the other person to change if your actions are going to remain the same. Putting yourself first, dare I say being selfish, is often seen as a “bad thing”. There is balance needed but if you can’t define it for yourself, then you are not able to tell your partner what you need. And, contrary to what you might think, they don’t already know – because you don’t know yourself.
Who are You?
Do you have an idealised view of the person you think your partner is? Are you expecting them to behave in a certain way and when they don’t you get angry with them – disappointed that what you hoped for did not happen? If you are unsure of what your partner’s view is of something – the best thing is to ask.
My husband used to accuse me of having arguments with him in my head – and he was right. I used to play through an argument in my head – attributing thoughts and words to him, getting myself whipped up into a temper which would spill over to real life when I was most annoyed.
Who are You and Who am I?
Take time to think about what you want – what kind of partner do you want to be? Challenge yourself to be that partner every day.
Communication – with yourself and your partner. No one is able to tell what you want, unless you tell them.
Be aware of the Four Horsemen – Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling.
These cripple relationships and communication in relationships if you use them when communicating with each other.
Explore each other’s differences – relationships can thrive on embracing your differences and giving each other space to be different. This is often an uncomfortable stage for couples who have been comfortable in the safe cosiness of the initial stage of the relationship.
Allow the other person to have a different perspective – your lived experiences to this point are different and you are both coming from different families/religions/cultures. Try to develop an empathic understanding of their point of view.
Putting your needs out there is a risk – what if they are not met? What if the person you have chosen to be in a relationship with doesn’t respond in the way you would like?
But what if they do …