First and foremost, one must resist comparing one’s relationship to others’. It is impossible to evaluate the strength of your relationship in terms of how it resembles the external features or emotional dynamics of other relationships. The “perfect’ or “normal” relationship simply does not exist. The truth is, the healthiest relationship is the one that “works” for you and your partner. General characteristics such as trust, safety, feeling protected, effective communication, mutual respect, and honesty, typically occur in many relationships whose partners report satisfaction.
There typically is a realization a few months into a relationship that things are not as they first seemed. We begin to see attributes in the other not noticed before (or ignored) or we notice that we are behaving differently; perhaps reacting strongly to our partner and not understanding quite why. Commonly, this is the time many relationships end because a new phase of connection has occurred. The couple has entered a more intimate level of relating and norms of behavior or patterns from our family of origin surface. This is normal and natural. It is essential to open up the lines of communication and discuss our learned patterns of relating; such as: how we express conflict (approach or avoid), comfort with intimacy, power and control, for example. As we talk with our partner about our differing experiences from our past we can begin to understand and accept an essential truth about our relationship; i.e., it is not all about us. It is critical to understand that often our partner’s responses stem from his or her personal relational history and can have little to do with us. Couples counseling can be an appropriate venue to gain perspective in this area.
Disagreement is a natural and essential process of partnering with another human being. It is not the amount of conflict that arises in a relationship that is indicative of the “health” or “dysfunction” of a relationship. Instead, it is the way in which the couple attempts to re-set and repair the dissonance that indicates how well the relationship is functioning. Often, partners enter a relationship with differing patterns of expressing disagreement, commonly learned from the family of origin. Couples counseling can provide a safe structure within which to explore unrealistic and realistic expectations. Often a couples counseling session can provide tools for each partner to truly listen to and “hear” the other. Partners can learn to “edit” themselves in favor of a “win-win” outcome. Couples and marital counseling offers a structured and professional atmosphere of emotional and procedural support to guide this process.
Call Adrienne at 818-468-9198 for a free phone consultation or email: firstname.lastname@example.org