I have been in the relationship coaching field long enough to know that when you are in a relationship long enough you start to hit potholes. Blindspot‘s show up, miscommunications start to happen and each partner’s shadow side starts to reveal its ugly head. The honeymoon period is such an exhilarating rush of commonalities, shared interests and wonderful moments of romantic connection . . . but it only lasts so long. We do put our best side forward, subtly and not so subtly editing out all the parts of ourselves that we do not want our partner to see. But overtime those parts eventually surface. And when they do disagreements happen, toes get stepped on and the bickering starts. You see, you can’t escape your shadow side, the pains and struggles of your past will eventually get into the mix. Whatever you haven’t dealt with starts to add itself to the relationship and the real work starts.
This is when couples come in to see me. Overtime these miscommunications, arguments and flat out misses start to add up and if you don’t have a good communication style they start to get confounded and exaggerated into full blown fights. That partner you once loved with your whole heart and who could do no wrong, you now start to treat with contempt and criticism. And this doesn’t happen overnight but shifts imperceptibly overtime. One of the biggest aspects I stress in relationship counseling is ongoing and thorough communication with your partner. It is not underrated but a vital tool in order to keep each side of the street clean.
In a relationship each partner wants to be seen and valued for what they care about and good communication ensures that they are putting these vital needs forward and tending to them by making sure they are clearly communicated in an ongoing way throughout the relationship.
This is where listening comes in. Have you ever been in a fight and instead of listening to what your partner is saying, you are strategizing what to say next? If you are gearing up, planning your next attack then you are definitely not listening. This is the “I am right and you are wrong“ approach. And in this approach fights escalate, things are said that cannot be taken back and “feeling right“ starts to sting. With a little listening and less talking each partner can be seen and heard in what is important to them and consolations can be made. Relationships are created and sustained in the gray zones of compromise not pinning your partner to the ground and forcing them to see it your way.
The first thing that I teach couples in relationship counseling is to listen first, repeat back what is sad and then continue having the conversation. You may not like what your partner has to say but at least you will be taking it in and creating space to hear what is important to them and they intern are doing the same for you. Listening allows for space in the conversation to have a different outcome.
If your horns are locked together and you have stopped seeing and valuing your partner for who they are, this is when you would come in to see me. This is where we can start at square one, where we start listening to each other and have healthier forms of communication where each one of your needs is seen, valued and met in the important space of compromise.