Updated: Jul 29, 2021
These arguments can go on for years, and never get resolved. They may have a slightly different slant to them, but the essence behind them is the same. And for sure so will the outcome.
Not only that but with each re-enactment, you get into an entrenched position, drifting apart, or deciding to end the relationship, which in itself causes more misery, and heartache, especially where children are involved. It involves both a financial and emotional cost.
You love each other, but you just can’t see any other way.
All too often there is a much deeper hurt beneath what is seen and spoken about on the surface. What seems to be trivial issues are masking much deeper ones, and they mount up to provide evidence that there is something much worse going on, evidence that endorses your greater fears.
Each time your partner dismisses your concerns, switches off, refuses to talk about it, walks away or gets angry, it makes you feel -
Your confidence hits rock bottom
Simon and Jane's Story
I sat in front of Jane and Simon who kept arguing about the same thing all through the session. It was even the same words, over and over. Neither was listening to the other. They kept interrupting each other, to make their point.
This wasn’t the first time I had heard this same argument. I felt uncomfortable and frustrated too. They just weren’t listening to each other. They were just focused on what they had to say.
When Jane relayed what Simon had said that she found upsetting, then Simon wouldn’t allow her to finish, instead, he said – ‘ I didn’t say that’, and Jane then argued back, defending her corner, and so it went on in the same way. Round and round over the same ground.
I stopped them when I could get a word in - and asked Jane to tell me how she felt, when these same arguments came up, the effect it had on her. She became upset and explained the effect it had on her. She said she felt anxious and worried each time she thought about it. She said she couldn’t continue living her life this way.
When she had finished, I asked Simon what it felt like hearing his wife saying those things. At first, he started defending himself, and then finally he admitted he didn’t like hearing how distressed his wife became.
Too often couples get so fixated on the fact that they are right, they lose sight of the effect it had on their partner, and ultimately on their relationship.
Of course, it can feel distressing when we feel we are ‘under attack', especially when we feel we are being unjustly accused of something we feel we haven’t said or done.
The point is, it’s the other person’s perception, and they have a right to be heard – and their feelings acknowledged. It’s not about being right or wrong. We don’t have to agree with each other’s perspectives, but we do need to show respect and concern to each other. It’s important to show loving-kindness to each other.
The alternative is to create resentment, lack of trust, eating away at any love that exists and finally the erosion of the relationship.
BUT WHAT IF THERE WAS ANOTHER - BETTER WAY?
Well, I want to assure you there is!
But it means you need to be prepared to change the way in which you respond to each other. It isn’t going to come easy, but it has to be worth the effort if you really love each other and want to rekindle the love you had for each other when you first met.
LISTENING IS THE FIRST STEP
I mean attentive listening, not whilst scrolling through your phone at the same time, which is bound to irritate and inflame the situation.
Acknowledge what the other person has to say – you don’t have to agree, but they have a right to voice their opinion, and feel their opinion is valued.
Resist the temptation to defend yourself, retaliate, placate or generalise.
Be curious and interested. If this subject has been brought up many times before, gently ask them why it's still bothering them
Empathise with them. Just because you don’t see it as an issue, doesn’t mean your partner shouldn’t be affected. We aren’t clones of each other, and probably what attracted you to each other were your differences.
Changes won’t happen overnight, especially if this has been going on for a long time. So be compassionate and kind to yourself and each other.
If you are still struggling, get in touch, and let's arrange a chat to see how I can help you - firstname.lastname@example.org