All Couples get stuck and sometimes have conflicts that are hard to resolve
Over the years through working with many couples that have learned to manage conflict better and restart their communication process, I find that this allows them to feel closer. It enables them to get their relationship back on track. They nurture and rebuild that loving bond between them. There seems to be enough positive energy going for these couples so a good “jump start” is all they needed. As they manage conflict and listen and talk to each other, they open the door once again to an improved perception of the other. Once again they are engaged in a need fulfilling pattern.
Other couples and partners struggle with getting their anger & resentment under control so they stay stuck in constant conflict.
This maintains the walls between partners and doesn’t let in the good stuff. Some couples, especially those with passive conflict patterns, may manage conflict by not dealing with it, but find little satisfaction in how they listen and talk with each other because they are so fearful of conflict. These couples do not develop the necessary skills to begin to look at what’s not working for them. Again they participate in keeping the barriers up. The feedback to your partner does not happen. Valuable education is lost.
Even if you have had some success at managing conflict and restarting your communication process, if you have reached this step there are obviously still differences in wants, values, expectations, and compatibilities that are keeping you apart.
The next step is about beginning to understand and express your different dreams, expectations, perspectives, experiences, and inner truths with and for your partner. It means looking at your relationship so that you can see how you have gotten so far apart.
As you practice talking and listening, you will likely discover differences in how you each define the amount of space, freedom, emotional closeness, investment and commitment you want to put into your relationship. You may discover that you’ve never really had a meaningful conversation like this before. You may find that you need to work out specific issues, such as how much time to spend together or apart, finances, sex and affection, child rearing, sharing family responsibilities, and decision making.
Some couples may be relieved to be renewing communication and notice real progress in how they are relating. Others will find at least one partner fixated on wanting to keep the conflict going or taking a break from ongoing conflict.
One person may already be gone from the relationship emotionally. Perhaps they have even invested in a new relationship.
Some partners may not make themselves available to talk because the conflict and tension is too intense. They perhaps feel emotionally unsafe or become easily angered when they are around their partner. Couples in this situation must learn to detach and separate, to simply get the physical distance necessary to reduce the conflict. If being near your partner creates this much anger and negative feeling, then learning to manage at least your side of the conflict will be the first order of business and some separation can give you both the breathing room and space for doing that.
Learning to manage your separation challenges you in the midst of conflict, struggling communication and disappointment. It will force you to think about and explore some of the reasons your partner’s and your expectations are not being met. Knowing how you have constructed your truth and perception about your partner is very important. Taking responsibility for your side of the conflict and problem pattern is necessary. Sometimes it is easier to not try or throw in the towel, but realize there is a lot at stake for you and your family.
Taking Space – How to Use Separation to Explore the Future of Your Relationship
Available in paperback and ebook editions
Audio Course: How to Structure and Manage a Separation
Available for download or in CDs
The Separation Agreement
Available for download or as a hard copy