The second we start to feel a problem arising in our relationship we often stop and look around the room and start comparing our relationship to others. Thinking about how perfect they seem from their outside appearance and wondering why your relationship is falling apart.
Well first you need to know that all relationships hit rough patches, and judging your relationship off of the appearance of another is the worst thing you can do! It’s really easy to think that you are the only ones struggling, but in reality, millions of couples put on a happy face in public and keep the yelling and fighting behind closed doors.
There’s an excellent chance that those couples you are envying, are secretly envying you as well.
It is impossible to be emotionally available to your partner 100 percent of the time. In fact, you will miss most of your spouse’s needs for emotional connection out of complete mindlessness, so don’t feel bad.
The difference between happy couples and unhappy couples isn’t that the happy couples never make mistakes. That’s just plain crazy, all couples make mistakes, and all couples fight, it’s really all about how you handle those conflicts and work through the conflict resolution that makes you a relationship master vs. a disaster.
So how do we turn you into a “master”?
Conflict is part of every relationship, yet many couples believe that strong differences mean that their marriage is troubled and they aren’t meant to be, and because none of us want a troubled marriage, we deny these differences by pretending that we agree, even when we don’t. What we get is what Linda Carroll of mind body green calls “lumpy carpet syndrome,” where we sweep the problems of our unspoken conflicts under the rug.
After a while, this said carpet becomes very lumpy due to all of the unspoken problems hanging out underneath it. Almost like walking on eggshells we have to watch our steps carefully to make sure we don’t step on any of the lumps.
The difference between masters and disasters are that the masters repair the conflict effectively. Instead of having a screaming match or getting defensive they sit down and rationally discuss the conflict at hand. They realize their relationship is more important than the problem. This means apologizing, learning when to admit you were wrong, actually putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and trying to understand why a particular situation could have hurt them. Both of you in a sense have to be the bigger person.
It’s essential to learn how to listen and respond to your partner’s problems with an open mind. You either need to deal with the situation as soon as it arises or sweep it under the rug and let it slide but then it needs to be forgotten about and move on, not re-stepped on. You can’t say you are going to let something slide and then two months later bring up the one issue you said you were going to forget about.
Some approach examples during your next argument
- “You know, I don’t think either of us is really listening to each other right now. Maybe we should start over.”
- “I need a break. Can we talk about this in twenty minutes?”
- “I’m sorry, I really wish I hadn’t said that.”
In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to stop yourself from getting worked up or lashing out on your partner but remembering these few approaches can really make a big difference. The big point that I want to try to make is that many of the difficulties, small or large, that we face when the rug becomes filled with bumps will only be resolved when courage and skill are applied to the situation.
Remember, long-term relationships have many seasons, some cold, others stormy, and this fact can help us to understand that, when difficulties arise, there isn’t always something wrong with our relationship; these bumps are normal, and now we know how to smooth them out.