In relationships, we are our own worst enemies. Almost every instinct we have is wired wrong. This is why successful relationships are those who have open communications—two people able to work “through” our instincts and into the problem at hand.
For example: You notice that your significant other seems to have less and less time for you. They may be spending more time at work, socializing with friends, playing on the computer: whatever the case you feel the distance and you long for a meaningful connection. You drop a few hints and offer a few suggestions for opportunities to spend together, but either they don’t get the hint or ignore you. Your initial instinct is to confront them, but you don’t want to push them away. Instead you keep your mouth shut, until one day your discontentment of the situation slips out like an ugly bean dinner in the middle of Church.
“No, you go ahead,” you hiss sarcastically, “You obvious would rather not be here anyway and be with the people you like better.”
And there it is. The more you foul the air with passive aggressive behavior, the less your partner wants to be with you. Your pain and hopes to become close have manifested themselves into the behavior that ensures that you get exactly what you don’t want. You want to say “I miss you and wish you would be closer to me” but instead you communicate “I am a pissy miserable person who is angry at you but too afraid to tell you.”
Issues that may have been able to be resolved with some mindfulness and communication, instead became irresolvable relationship problems. With each attempt to react in a calm and passive way became a perception that the partner was an aggressive and ugly person—being afraid to say something that may hurt the relationship created a condition that ended up hurting the relationship.
So what is the right way to deal with relationship troubles? Be open and fearless. First, take some time each day to evaluate what emotional conditions are arising within you. Sometimes frustration with a mate has nothing to do with your significant other but personal stresses.
Second, take time each day to evaluate the day and your experiences. Are there stresses that are going unnoticed? Sometimes anger about drinking from the milk carton is really a frustration about being respected.
Third, have the courage to talk it out. Partners who can work through conflict have a significantly higher chance of staying together. Most people who do not confront conflict site that fear of breakup is the number one reason arguments are avoided and left to spoil the entire relationship. The number two reason was unwillingness for self-evaluation. Couples that can separate the feelings in the argument from the relationship can productively resolve issues through insight and investigation.
There is a serious perception problem that good relationships are ones that never disagree, argue or fight. It is impossible for two people to cohabitate for any length of time in perfect harmony. Recognizing disagreement and stress then actively engaging together to work through those issues is the best way to resolve serious problems later on.
It may often seem the wrong choice to confront your significant other when you are feeling that there is a problem, but it is almost always the best direction for resolution. And if you are afraid that the resolution will end in your significant other leaving, that needs to be addressed as well. Otherwise, the misery that comes from being afraid your relationship will end will be the single largest contributor ensuring that it does.