You and your guy have a pretty good relationship. It’s not over-the-moon, call the movie director but you are, for the most part happy. Something that nags at you though, is the two of you have a terrible time working through your relationship problems when they arise. You’ve lost site as to what even constitutes a ‘healthy relationship’. You’re not sure if it’s time to start looking at couples therapy or marriage counselling or if you need to start on your own, building communication skills together.
Many couples have rarely had a discussion when something is bothering them in their relationship. They often say to me that more often than not, if there is a problem it becomes an argument, not a discussion. If you are someone who wants to avoid arguments, well you are not going to bring up what is bothering you, right? Generally at least one of you in the relationship can relate to this statement.
Problems can also become buried in the form of creating distance or nagging but really at the root of it is the problem. Take some time to think about that – what is it about his “distance” or your “nagging” that could be resolved by openly talking about what the actual “problem” is.
A wise friend of mine once said to me, “a complaint is a chicken with a need”. What she meant by this is behind every complaint in a relationship or otherwise, is a need. So instead of taking it at face value that this person is complaining and there’s nothing you can do, ask them what it is they think they ‘need’. This can be a very effective place to begin.
The best relationship advice I can give you on how to talk about your relationship problems is to first mutually decide on how you are going to approach things when a problem arises. This is half the battle. My suggestion for women is to say something like:
“I’m not mad and you are not in trouble but I’d like to talk to you about something that is bothering me. When is a good time?”
You see, men often feel attacked and in trouble when women are upset so it is best to get those fears out of the way so he can actually hear you and be present.
The two of you can mutually decide on when to sit down and discuss the problem. This has to be a time where there’s no distraction. Depending on the level of the problem, this could be 15 minutes or 2 hours so you will have to be the gauge of that and clear on what amount of time you are asking for.
HOW you approach creating an opportunity to discuss the problem will often dictate the success of the outcome. If things quickly escalate between the two of you, this might very well be the step you are missing.
During your discussion, make a commitment to really hear each other and a commitment not do dismiss each other’s feelings. That’s incredibly insulting and can stop any progress in its tracks.
And lastly, don’t try to dive too deep into any one problem and expect it will be resolved the very first time you discuss it. This would be ideal but doesn’t often happen if it’s a problem that has existed for awhile. If it’s clear you need more time to discuss and resolve then make that the outcome of your first discussion, that you will chat about it again and set a date and time – not, “hopefully soon”.
I know this relationship advice will set you off on the right foot, creating the opportunity for the two of you to begin working on becoming better communicators. And communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship.
To your authenticity,