The way we handle our problems, especially the small ones, can prove to be the maker or separator of relationships. This is probably not good news for those of us who despise or deny our personal and interpersonal problems.
Difficulties have a way of delving deeply into the truth of matters. They reveal us for who we truly are. Just about anyone can be nice and loving when the relational seas are calm. It’s when the tests arrive; that’s when we know what we’ve got as far as our essential persons and our partners are concerned.
Problems throw us into the cauldron of our unsteady selves and we’re faced with anxiety, anger, and a plethora of other felt responses. They cause us to be unreasonable when the only way through them is to be reasonable.
The following four areas are good to use in troubleshooting and determining methods of resolving difficulties and conflicts:
1. How A Couple Thinks About Their Problems
Thinking is so underrated. Even though we’re thinking human beings, often unable to turn off our minds, we rarely analyse our thinking processes.
How do we think? And importantly, how do two different people that make up one couple think differently?
It’s a fact we all think differently. So why would we criticise our partners for seeing the world and facing problems differently? Gaining an appreciation of our thinking differences goes a long way toward sorting our problems.
2. How A Couple Manages Their Feelings
Managing our feelings is a tricky business. We can’t help but feel. And again, we feel differently. Managing emotions like fear, loneliness and anger are difficult. We may find it easier to deny them some way. But that doesn’t help.
If, as couples, we can maintain some code of respect for each others’ feelings, making space for them, whilst taking personal responsibility for our feelings, which are our own and nobody else’s, we will avoid disastrous consequences in negotiating conflict.
3. Where A Couple Focuses Their Attention
Rather than the word focus, we could utilise the word refocus, instead.
Many distractions grab at our attention and subsume our focus. The point of refocusing is to somehow become reminded when we’re wandering off track.
So much conflict occurs because we’re incorrectly focused.
4. How A Couple Acts And Communicates Under Stress
Stressful situations, as pointed out above, bring out our worst. This is a human universal. As our thinking tends more negatively, and we imagine where problems are taking us, it’s natural we’ll become stressed.
Yet, if, as a couple, we can notice the stresses that come into our marital lives and remind ourselves to be especially loving toward each other, we can negotiate the stress much better.
Difficulties are the relationship quality enhancer. Problems prove our love. How we think about our problems, manage our feelings, refocus our attention, and act and communicate in stressful situations determines the quality of our relationships.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.