There are a wide range of relationship issues that lead couples to seek marriage or relationship help. And while each relationship is unique, there are commonalities that cut across the different marital and relationship problems couples struggle to overcome. Here are three issues I often see in my marriage/couples counseling practice.
Relationship Help: 3 Mistakes Couples Make
1. Harmony at all costs
Couples who fall prey to this mistake ignore or minimize important issues rather than face challenges and work together to overcome them. Co-creating a healthy marriage/relationship means having conversations with each other that will be difficult at times. Avoiding issues (e.g., concerns about your partner’s spending or his/her constant preoccupation with work) in order to keep the peace or to avert a potential conflict only fosters an illusion of harmony, not true harmony.
And while the relationship may appear stable on the surface, pressing issues are being diverted underground where they still have a profound impact on you, your partner and the relationship.
Relationship Help Truism: Important, emotionally-charged issues fester when not directly dealt with.
2. Drowning in the mundane
Let’s face it, life can get pretty humdrum at times. For many of us, our day-to-day life changes very little. And while repetition and regular routines are a vital part of a healthy marriage/relationship, there is a potentially damaging consequence to domestic life: Boredom.
Boredom isn’t always a problem, of course. But when boredom breeds complacency, couples fall into the following trap: They begin to see each other as the problem rather than their own passivity and lack of initiative to nurture the relationship; and at some point, couples can become myopic and fail to see each other’s uniqueness—when this occurs, the specialness that drew you to one another gets washed away and replaced with a caricature-like view of each other.
Relationship Help Truism: Couples must actively and continuously see each other with new eyes—especially all the traits that make you and your partner unique, and the traits that helped you fall in love with your partner in the first place.
3. Fueling the negativity fire (while ignoring the positive)
Yes, there will be times when you and your partner will get on each other’s nerves; you’ll have the same argument about nothing and wonder what happened to the person you fell in love with years ago. Long-term, committed relationships are a kaleidoscope of experiences that include the good, the bad and yes, even the ugly. The challenge for all couples is to feed and highlight the good (what is working, the positives) and not only see the bad.
Focusing on the positive aspects of your relationship (and your partner) doesn’t mean ignoring what may not be working for you or your partner. The challenge is to acknowledge (to yourself) and then express (to your partner) what is working—to show appreciation for all the little things you and your partner do in the relationship.
Relationship Help Truism: Like a wildfire in an arid climate, negativity can quickly grow and consume a marriage/relationship. What you focus on grows and expands, leaving little room for anything else.
Don’t panic if you’ve fallen prey to one or more of these three common mistakes. The goal is to become mindful of how they might be playing out in your marriage/relationship and to have discussions with your partner about how to overcome these mistakes. As always, be patient and give enough time to make the changes needed to strengthen your marriage/relationship.
Relationship Help Books-Resources
I have a relationship resource I’d like to share with you today:
Sadly, too many couples ignore the importance of forgiveness in building a long-term, healthy relationship. To find out how the power of forgiveness can strengthen your relationship, check out my workbook: Hurt by the One You Love: The Power of Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships
Dr. Rich Nicastro