Congratulations! Your relationship is doing its job if it teaches you how to manage the various differences that show up between you and your partner.
Relationships get stuck from time to time. Problem is we can sometimes get stuck in our reactions to these differences and a kind of deadlock or drift emerges.
For most couples this deadlock can result in a mixture of emotional reactions and behaviour. Attempts to avoid, deny or distract from the problems only works for a short amount of time.
Some of the typical issues that create deadlock and accompanying avoidance, distraction and conflict for couples include:
- Career demands
- Domestic tasks
- Ill Health
- The in-laws
- Moving House
These every day matters are natural parts of our lives, however they can be extremely stressful, complex and create chasms of distance in couples.
Partners talk to me about drifting away from each other and how these unresolved issues affect intimacy and support.
Let’s dispel the gloom.
There are ways to move your relationship forward and reduce the distance that conflict and stress has on a relationship.
It requires a good hard look at yourself and your relationship in the metaphorical mirror! And doing so together, not in isolation of one another.
What kind of partner are you?
Relationships that improve do so when both partners review their behaviours and communication as a way to move through differences.
Finding some flexibility and owning your part in how you adapt makes all the difference.
Spend a few moments thinking about the kind of partner you are in your relationship.
How do you connect with your partner overall?
How do you manage difference with them? What thoughts, feelings and behaviours occur when you are in conflict with your partner?
Conflict or differences are essential ingredients in a relationship as long as we can learn how to accept our partner even if we disagree with them whilst paying some attention to our own reactions.
Now, consider what are the most important values or features of your relationship?
In the context of an intimate relationship, values are how you act in your relationship as well as what you do.
These values, and particularly the values you are neglecting, may help you to work through differences and related stress.
Here are some examples of relationship values.
7 steps to move your relationship forward.
- Make a list of your Relationship Values. Include any or all the list above and add your own.
- Next to each value, make a list of the actions, (including behaviours or gestures) that are directly linked to the value.
- Make another list of the actions that go against the value. What you do, say or think that’s the opposite of that value.
- Share your list with your partner and encourage them to do the same exercise.
- Discuss your respective lists.
- Combine your list of Values and Actions.
- Clearly place your Relationship Values List along with the Actions List visible to you both.
Take a step back
Step back and look at which relationship values you’re losing sight of. It could be respect, acceptance, honesty, connection or even care.
Have a close look at the behaviours or reactions that go against that value.
Discuss how these values are contributing to the conflict between you and your partner
Owning your own part of it and sharing that with your partner will provide you with options to do things differently and prevent getting stuck for too long.