More On Couple Relationship Marriage.
Current research has shown that there are 10-15 things couples will fight about for their entire relationship. In addition, it also shows that 67% of all relationship issues will never be solved. They will just be managed. It’s not whether a couple has fights that determine divorce, but how they fight. More specifically, how this fighting spills over and contaminates the rest of the relationship.
The older models of Couples Marriage Relationship Counseling Therapy held the belief that ‘If couples could learn to fight better’ then everything would be okay. As a result, communication & conflict resolution techniques were introduced as a way of trying to save marriages. The long-held belief was that emotions were to be avoided in therapy at all costs. That emotions are messy and illogical and only got in the way of conflict resolution.
The problem is you can’t separate the emotions from the people who are having the disagreement. Ignoring emotions overlooks the fact that they are a great motivator for change. (In proper doses, anger motivates us to get up and do things and worry motivates us to make plans.)
Luckily some really smart researchers and therapists realized that relationships aren’t like business negotiation where you barter for what you want. They realized that relationships are, in fact, emotional connections. Threats to these emotional bonds strain our sense of connection, resulting in a form of protest.
If you look under the surface of the disagreement you will see:
Let’s look at an example. A wife complains to her husband about an issue which the husband takes as nagging. This perceived nagging is actually the wife’s way of saying, “I need you, are you here for me? Can I count on you to be responsive to me?” The husband sees the complaint as a deficiency that he has, that he is not living up to his end of the bargain. This results in the husband emotionally closing down or stonewalling. Stonewalling causes the wife to protest louder. And the cycle continues.
Wife: I’m not important to you because I can’t reach you. You’re not accessible and responsive. Then I will reach out to you louder until you hear me. (More complaining)
Husband: I’m not good enough because you are complaining. I hide or defend against this complaining because it makes me feel bad about myself. (More stonewalling)
The circle then continues until they get help or separate.
The above is a very basic example. The roles could easily be reversed where the husband is doing the reaching and the wife has shut down. There are other variations to how couples interact and it is different for each couple.
It is this habitual, circular pattern of interaction that pushes people apart and causes couples to ultimately separate. The fighting has spilled over to become a threat to the relationship and is no longer just about the needs and longings.