The big part of my counseling practice is dedicated to working with couples.
I find it very rewarding, sometimes very challenging. Challenging, because it inevitably makes me reflect on my own relationship. Rewarding, because I love seeing people grow and change their ways of being in the world. And grow you must if you want to save a relationship that is in crisis or on the verge of coming to the end.
Crisis is an opportunity to get close to your partner
I often tell couples coming to my office that the crisis in a relationship is also a huge opportunity for them: opportunity to talk about things that are important, that matter, getting to know each other better, getting closer.
Why is it? Let me explain.
Many couples I know to discuss the colour and make of a new car, how their next holiday will look like, and what they want for dinner, but never ask about the other person’s values, expectations, dreams.
They often don’t discuss the fundamental issues in their life, because they think that they are obvious: “If they loved me they would know what I think and what is important to me”. Would they, really?
Lack of communication leads to conflicts
Most problems and conflicts in life arise from lack of communication. I know it. I have made the same mistake over and over again.
How often did you sit with your partner and asked them about the way they express their love? Have you ever asked them before your big wedding day, if they wanted to have children or rather focus on a career?
If you have not, do not worry, you are not alone.
Sometimes people grow apart by walking in opposite directions without even noticing that the other doesn’t follow anymore. This is quite ok, this is a part of life.
Change is inevitable and good
The problems start when you forget to communicate it with your partner, verify your agreements or lack of them from the past, and neglect to start the new ones.
It happens that 10,15 years into a relationship you wake up one day next to a complete stranger and wonder what happened to us from the past.
You may feel betrayed, cheated, deceived. You may think that the other person tricked you into believing that they were somewhat different, yet now they are showing their real character. The character you don’t even like.
You may feel compelled to leave the relationship and look for someone who will resemble the person you remember and still hold dear in your memory. I often hear from my clients: “this is not a person I have married years ago”, “I don’t know them anymore”.
There is always time to do things differently
Start asking important questions, start talking. You might be surprised by the answers.
Who knows; you might even like your partner better once you hear what they like, what is important to them, what makes them cry, what makes their heart sing.
Don’t lose your opportunity to learn something new about your partner when things go sideways. Be curious, ask before you judge. Grow together, not apart.