Confronting problems in your relationship
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
19th August, 20140 Comments
Into every life a little rain must fall, while it seems that most relationships suffer the occasional thunderstorm. All relationships have their problems some are simple tiffs and are relatively easily sorted out and put behind you, others take a little more work and some seem like a mountain to climb. Often one partner may feel that there is an issue that the other person is either unaware of or is unwilling to address - so what is the best way of confronting these issues in your relationship so that they can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion?
If there is the opportunity, one of the key things is to prepare what you want to say. The reason that many conflicts in relationships go wrong is that they force the other partner into a defensive mode. This is because the issue is brought up with an accusation:
“You always leave the wet towels on the bathroom floor and I’m left to clear them up.”
“You always leave the car with no petrol and I always have to fill it up.”
Immediately your partner is on the defensive. You can make it easier for your partner to listen and change if you focus on your feelings and try not to assign blame.
“I feel frustrated that I’m always clearing up towels from the bathroom floor, it would mean so much to me if they could go in the laundry basket.”
“I get really annoyed when there is no petrol in the car because I know it’s going to make me late for work.”
By approaching it in this way your partner is more likely to listen and empathise with your problem and be open to discussing a solution. There is a sense of closeness rather than conflict, solving the problem together, which always brings a greater possibility for resolution.
There is a step that many forget in conflict resolution with their partner, and that is that they themselves may have to change. That we find it easy to focus on what is done wrong to us, but that we need to take the opportunity to listen to our partner and reflect if there are any changes we should make ourselves.
Now of course these are very simple examples and in the real world it is perhaps naïve to think that there will not be irritation at being ‘called’ on your behaviour. Yet by focusing on your feelings rather than blame, you avoid the greater pitfalls that lie in the direction of direct conflict where one of you is accusatory and one defensive.
Keeping the communication effective is key to resolving the issue so keep your points short and to the point. Give your partner time to think what they want to say in reply. Taking the time to reflect back what you partner just said can show both you are listening and that you have understood. It all aids the effectiveness of the conversation and the eventual outcome.
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