Happily ever after tends to be everyone’s relationship goal. In reality, all relationships face challenges at various stages of the journey. The challenges can be external like an interfering family or internal to the individuals like insecurity. How the couple handles these challenges can be defining to the relationship.
Each of us has our own individual personality. Some of which is inherent and some of which is shaped by life experiences. We tend to approach relationship challenges with the assumptions we hold from our past experiences. When both partners adopt this approach, the situation can turn volatile and toxic very quickly. Reactions can swing from extremely emotional to reserved calm where a partner internalises their emotions and does not react at all in the moment only to erupt later on
We are human and emotions are a part of us that we cannot easily control all the time. The truth is that issues need to be aired and discussed to keep the relationship healthy and moving forward. Sweeping them under the carpet or otherwise neglecting them is a surefire recipe for relationship disaster that can hurt more people than just the couple in question.
So, here are a few expert tips for times when you feel you are facing a challenge or being put in a compromised position in your relationship:
1. Handle the situation with emotion but not emotionally. This is easier said than done. Try to be sensitive to your partner’s feelings and to not take their words personally. Sometimes, it may not be about you but an external stress that just comes out wrong. Becoming upset, angry or emotional clouds your judgment and you may lose control of your reactions and words. Never a good thing and you will regret it later.
2. Do not take any decision in the heat of the moment. This is a universal no-no. Practise the pause. Stop talking. Take a moment to breathe. Walk away if you must. But do not declare ultimatums or final decision during an argument. This can cost you the loss of a relationship which you value otherwise.
3. Reflect, introspect and try to be empathetic and rational. This is important because honest self-reflection can open your eyes to the root cause of the contentious issue. Reflect on why and how the differences came about and what you can do to correct them. ‘You’ is the operative word here. Pointing out how your partner can correct themselves implies that they alone are in the wrong. Remember that for any relationship to work it takes two. Absolving yourself of any responsibility is selfish. As you reflect on the issue, put it in the context of the relationship and why the relationship holds value for you. The ability to apologise and forgive is important to learn if maintaining the relationship is valuable to you.
Couples in a healthy relationship communicate with their partner in a non-confrontational way. Making the conversation about the issue at hand and not a personal attack. They also let go of issues without holding a grudge. Not raking up a past grievance in a current discussion. Internalising emotions leads to passive aggressive behaviour and can kill otherwise compatible relationships.
No relationship is free of challenges, disagreements, or debates. Everyone makes mistakes and accidents happen. One partner may falter and become insensitive in some situations. If that is you, it’s best to apologise and be committed to not repeating the folly in the future. If it’s your partner, forgive them and move on. When new challenges arrive, you will be in a better space to deal with them together. Communicate with each other, appreciate each other. Work together to build a relationship that can weather any storm.
And may we say as we always do, take an appointment with a specialist or a therapist if the issue cannot be resolved between the couple.