It’s not a communication problem
Almost everyone that comes into see me for marriage counselling or relationship counselling believes they have a communication problem. People’s definition of a communication problem is that they are unable to get their partner to willingly and happily see their point of view and most importantly do things their way. The reality is most of these couples are communicating fine, sometimes ineffectively, but none-the-less they are communicating.
The real issue for couples is that they each don’t like what they are hearing from their partner on specific topics, which usually means their partner doesn’t want what s/he wants.
Upon hearing this disagreeable information from their partner, a person then chooses to try and persuade their partner from their current belief or want and align their partner’s belief to their belief or want. Of course, the other partner thinks what s/he wants or believes is fine and they try and persuade their partner to their way of seeing the world.
This continues in escalating circles until things erupt and people get incredibly hostile and walk away angry or threatening one another or start crying. Or the other way these conversations end is one person gives in but feels a great deal of resentment.
In these type of conversations nothing is solved and it is labeled as a communication problem. The real definition of this type of communication is that it is an incompatibility problem in which both partners are unwilling to yield or become creative in designing a solution they can both live. Often these couples are without effective tools to resolve this difference. The incorrect labeling of a communication problem when it is really a difference of wants problems makes it even harder to fix the problem.
A truth about marriage, that people either fail to recognize or find difficult to come to terms with, is that marriage changes our individual freedom. What this change in freedom results in is that a married people will no longer get his/her way in their pure form as they did as a single person. It is important to note you will still get what you want, however it will look different and it takes creativity to work with your partner to find a solution.
This can be really hard for some people to come to terms with. They may experience loss or grief and give up their creative problem solving skills. Or a person may choose to deny this reality and instead they choose to to fight it and become stubborn, over use logic or use anger and punishment to get their partner to their way of thinking.
The reality is that no one in the world wants exactly what we want when it comes to pretty much anything. Challenging issues to resolve in marriage are often about sex, money, parenting, free time and how to run the marriage. No amount of “Love” can overcome the differences between two people. It doesn’t take love to bridge these differences but rather the choice to accept that being with something requires you accept that you will have to change. It also requires a high level of compatibility, a great deal of creativity and good marriage skills.
People in happy marriage can and do get what they want, it just requires effort and creativity. Successful marriage accept that their partner is different and they embrace this difference and look internally as to how they can creatively shape what they want to make it more compatible with their partner. Successfully married people realize and accept that what they wanted as an individual is achievable in marriage but it will look different in marriage and can be just as satisfying. Effective couples focus on what to do about these differences rather than trying to persuade their partner that what they think they want is wrong.
Couples that flounder are ones that haven’t come to terms with the fact that relationships are expensive in that we cannot get what we want exactly the way we want it. These couples choose to creatively employ blaming, complaining guilt and threats to get what they want.
Couples that flounder find it intolerable to give up the mental pictures in their head of how to meet their needs and resist looking for alternatives. These types of couples devolve into all or nothing ways of doing the relationship which resulting in ugly fighting
Marriage counselling helps people learn the skills they need to have successful marriage. Marriage counselling challenges people to evaluate the beliefs they have about love, marriage, relationships, communication and problem solving and explorer better alternatives that are more effective. Call us to find out how we might help you have a better marriage.
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Through an initial consultation we'll help you frame goals and outcomes of therapy and what that would look like to achieve it.