Handling tough times in couple relationships: 5 tips
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Armstrong MBACP
10th February, 20170 Comments
All couple relationships go through tough times. These could be major life transitions, such as a new baby, new job or retirement. Couples might face ongoing stressors, such as a partner’s poor health (whether physical or emotional) or a stressful work environment; losses, such as the death of a friend or family member, or a financial crisis. Or it might be the couple relationship itself that appears to be running out of steam, lost its focus or meaning. If the couple relationship itself feels lost this can be experienced as particularly damaging and distressing; the very resource that is meant to bring you comfort seems to do the exact opposite.
How do couples, who are facing tough times, handle and work through this?
Here are five tips:
- Acceptance: if you want to work through this current situation you will need, as a couple, to fully accept your state of affairs. Denying or distorting, suppressing your thoughts and feelings will only exacerbate the “stuckness” that you are right in the middle of.
- Turn towards each other: you may have been caught up emotionally in this situation for a while now, and have spent time turning away from your partner, and even against your partner. Strategies that illustrate this include putting each other down, stonewalling a conversation with silence, or disappearing into a digital world. Couples need to turn towards each other and really begin to listen to what the relationship is usually crying out for affection and healing.
- Make a commitment: commit to renewing the relationship. Consider what you had before as relationship version one, what you are struggling through now is relationship version two, and you are working to create and maintain version three. Create a vision of what that might look like and how that might work for both of you.
- Compromise: healthy couples abandon the “my way or the highway” discourse. Actively compromising can infuse the relationship with health and vitality.
- Gratitude: think in depth about what this relationship brings to you, what you have been, and still are, grateful for. Then communicate this clearly and with tenderness.
We don’t always have a choice about the difficult situations we find ourselves in, but we do have a responsibility and a choice about what we do next.
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