Stress or disharmony in a close, intimate relationship can often lead to disruptions or interruptions in other areas of your life. Whether with an intimate partner (girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, domestic partner) or someone with whom you share a close relationship with (roommate, co-worker, family member), your relationships with others can be challenging to navigate to say the least!
Obviously, no two people are exactly alike. If we stop to actually think about it and take stock of what we bring to any relationship, it is incredibly important to consider the following: you have two entirely different people, with two entirely different backgrounds, different genetic and temperamental constitutions, different styles of communicating and dealing with conflict, different comfort levels regarding levels of intimacy as well as a different set of likes and dislikes, wants and needs. Wow, taking all this into consideration, it’s a wonder some relationships work at all!
The best way to describe the position we come from when working with couples and interpersonal relationship distress is as follows: blaming or fault-finding is unproductive, everyone has strengths and limitations, most everyone has vulnerabilities and triggers from our upbringing and prior relationships, every moment and every person can be a teacher and offer a chance to learn a valuable lessons if we are open and willing to learn, and usually our most challenging relationships are our greatest teachers. Furthermore, in some cases the lessons are not metabolized and digested immediately and sitting with the grey is necessary in order to reach a deeper level of intimacy.
The phrase “relationships take work” is a familiar one in contemporary society but unfortunately not one that is often taken to heart or appreciated in its fullest scope. What it requires to work on a relationship is simple yet can be very challenging – a willingness to be open, curious and honest with oneself and ones partner, a willingness and sense of humility to not always be “right” (not quite the same or synonymous with being “wrong”), a sense of commitment to the process and of course, a sense of humor can go a very long way when employed with good intention.