I’ve started noticing that many of the problems couples come to me for, seem to stem from two major issues which either cause or intensify their problems. But once couples learn how to address these two issues, everything else seems to start falling into place also.
The two major issues in question are Communication and Expectations.
A vast number of problems couples experience seem to stem from either their lacking ability to communicate well or unmet expectations. The moment, however, couples improve their ability to communicate openly and constructively, as well as reviewing, understanding, and meeting each other’s expectations, a newfound balance and satisfaction return to their relationship.
So, let’s look at these two major issues separately, to see what we need to know, and keep in mind to create happiness in your relationship.
One of the most common issues that couples face is communication. There is often times either a complete absence of communication, constant miscommunication or very poor communication. The end result is almost always frustration, unhappiness, and unmet needs. Many times the root cause of the communication issue is in “interpretation.” You misunderstand what the other person is saying and spend too much time and energy arguing a point your partner never intended. It’s a futile exercise. It is, therefore, essential to take the time to fully comprehend what your partner is trying to say. Also, if you’re the one talking, it’s important to make sure you’re communicating clearly and exactly what you mean so that your partner can understand. You need to recognize the fact that their perspective is not the same as yours. Their experiences, points of view and even baggage are not the same as yours. But good communication demands empathy. It’s to see the world through their eyes as much as possible and then treating them the way that you would treat yourself.
The need to be right always
Another typical issue with communication is the need to always being “right.” But here’s the thing, nobody is always right. It’s critical, therefore, that you both will concede when you are wrong and be OK with it. Now, if one of you absolutely have to be right all the time, be prepared that your partner will eventually withdraw and you’ll lose the emotional connection that’s so important in any love relationship.
Here is a question I typically ask couples: “Do you want to be right (always), or do you want to be happy?” Listen, communication can be difficult, particularly when your partner doesn’t respond or act the way you wanted them to, and that’s OK. The point is that a difference of opinion does not need to lead to an unhappy relationship.
One of the fastest ways to create unhappiness and instability in a relationship is through disappointment. And very few things create disappointment as quickly as unmet expectations.
But, there are typically two problems with expectations in a relationship:
- unrealistic expectations
- unclear expectations
Often times, couples struggle to meet each other’s expectations because they are simply unrealistic. It’s important to understand that our expectations often times derive from other people, past experiences, beliefs, or internal values. But, that doesn’t change the fact that they are sometimes very toxic to our relationship. Alternatively, couples sometimes struggle to meet each other’s expectations because they simply don’t know what the other one expects from them, or in their relationship. Now, maybe you are pretty certain about what YOU expect from your relationship and your partner, but that doesn’t mean that your partner can read your mind which means they most likely have no clue what you expect. If you want to avoid unhappiness in your relationship, it is your responsibility to be very clear about your expectations and share those with your partner. If in doing so, you come to realize that some of your expectations might be slightly unrealistic, or even impossible to meet, you might want to review where that expectation comes from and what is more important – being unrealistic or being happy.
The relationship should work for the both of you
As a couple, it is very easy to bring a lot of baggage into a relationship, but it’s crucial that you share your expectations with each other and then focus on creating a relationship that works for BOTH of you. You are not in a relationship to please other people or worse, only meet one of the partner’s expectations. That’s a recipe for disaster. Take away… Listen, how you negotiate the issues in your relationship is completely up to you as a couple. There are no right or wrong answers – except that all communication should be thoughtful, kind, loving and without anger or abuse. At the end of the day, you are a team and not opponents. Communicate well. Expect more from yourself than your partner.