Why Are We Stuck?

When couples begin to have difficulties in their relationships, they naturally attempt to discover what the problems are by looking at what can change in the other person. We know for certain our spouses affect us. They make us angry. They hurt our feelings. We see this clearly. But we are often clueless about the ways in which our actions affect them. When they become angry or hurt and lash out, it appears to be coming out of the blue. We are not seeing how our actions trigger their emotional responses (and vice versa). There are two parts to how a message is communicated; the the part we intend to send and how it is received. Often, we cannot control how the message is received and it may be received negatively. So, the problem in communication is really with both persons, but it is extremely hard to see from one perspective.

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If one spouse is thinking the problem is residing in the other, which is often the case, you are usually analyzing why you're stuck. You usually get into a cycle of blame and counter-blame, which is why a lot of couples get stuck and cannot get unstuck. You think the problem is your partner's and your partner thinks the problem is you. If you are thinking the problem is your spouse what else is there to do but wait for them to change? This is usually why it takes couples so long to come into couples counseling.

What you can do about being stuck? Instead of focusing on putting the blame on each other and waiting for change to come about, you can focus on creating solutions. Many people argue about things where they both have great points. For example, I had a couple who could not stop arguing about money. One spouse was quite practical and the other spent money more freely. They kept trying to find the reasons why they were fighting, so I had them refocus on what they needed to do to stop. In therapy, both spouses came to understand the reasons underlying the saving of money ("I need to feel financially secure") and spending money ("I need to enjoy my life"). Also, when they became more understanding of one another's attitudes regarding money, they became more loving toward one another in general. 

If you are stuck and frustrated in your relationship, starting to solve your problems may seem daunting. Just start where you are. Changing one small thing leads to others. If you need help, just contact me for a no cost phone consultation.