Couple Care offers therapy Retreats designed to help couples heal their relationship. These Retreats ensure a safe space for both partners, aiming to move towards deeper understanding and empathy while addressing the needs for healing and change.
If there is conflict in your relationship and you have difficulty reaching resolution, you may be caught in a rigid pre-defined role with your partner. To break out of this dynamic and work towards a healthy connection, you will need to change the way you handle conflict.
Triangulation refers to the concept of drawing in a third person to help cope when there is conflict in the relationship. Triangulation can offer relief and stability. However triangulation also has the potential to cause turmoil in relationships and cause escalation in conflict. While everyone experiences and engages in triangulation at some point and some form, not all triangulation is bad or unhealthy. It is critical to recognize and avoid unhealthy triangulation.
An unhealthy and unsustainable dynamic develops when triangulation involves roles of a victim, a rescuer, and a persecutor. Oftentimes this unhealthy dynamic develops an energy that draws the individuals in such a way that resolution of the conflict is forgotten.
The Victim: the one who feels victimized, helpless, weak, ashamed, hopeless, powerless, etc. The victim feels stuck and is not able to enjoy life, resolve issues, or make decisions.
The Rescuer: the one who feels responsible towards the victim and guilty if she/he does not help the victim. The rescuer is the enabler and is stuck focusing energy on the victim rather than on themselves.
The Persecutor: the one who is authoritative, superior, controlling, oppressive, rigid, etc. The persecutor blames the victim for the conflict.
These three roles help create a basic conceptualization for the dysfunctional relationship roles that develop in conflict. The individuals in the triangle may assume different roles which change and shift over time or as the conflict changes. There may also be a development of dysfunctional patterns in broken triangles and multiple dependent triangles. Often there is black and white thinking and actual concerns may be forgotten within a dynamic of upset and confusion.
When individuals who already have a propensity for particular positions are drawn in a conflict or issue, they naturally fall into the role they have a predisposition for. Engaging in this role fulfills a often subconscious need within them, and in spite of the dysfunction of the triangulation, they continue to engage in their role.
The victim being persecuted will seek out a rescuer. The rescuer will meet some need within themselves by playing the rescuing role. The persecutor will feel righteous and blame the victim. The victim will say “I’m helpless”, persecutor will say “I’m right”, the and the rescuer will say “I’m good”. The rescuer perhaps has the most obscure motive as she / he has a mixed motive of feeling good that someone is dependent on them, and they are able to help. It may be that the rescuer actually enjoys their position and doesn’t want the conflict to really resolve.
The play and dynamic of this victim, rescuer, and persecutor triangle soon becomes an end in itself, and overtakes the original problem and any corrective solutions.
Escalation includes changing roles as the victim might strike back and attack the persecutor, who in turn feels like the victim, and seeks out their own rescuer. In another scenario, the victim might blame the rescuer for not doing enough, or for doing too much, and the rescuer might then feel like the victim, also finding their own rescuer. Either case there is now involvement of a fourth person creating an overlapping triangle and shifting positions.
While this kind of triangulation continues there is no healthy position.
The Way Out
Do not engage: Refuse to participate as a victim, rescuer, or persecutor. Find your balance and express your true beliefs and position on the issue. Maintain your position with strength and compassion. Focus on the solution.
Do not retaliate: If the other individuals in the triangle play their parts, refuse to respond with the position they have cast you in. Instead firmly express yourself from your position.
Create an equal partnership: Engage with your partner as an equal rather than a superior or inferior.
Practice healthy, compassionate, and direct communication: Resist the urge to vent to a third person in the case of a relationship conflict. Speak to your partner directly or seek professional help/ couples therapy.
Accept differences: Accept that your partner may have a different opinion or preference than you and seek a compromise that works for the both of you.
Assert yourself: Instead of blaming, punishing, manipulating, or using passive aggressive or passive-aggressive methods, be assertive. Take responsibility for your position and say what you want to. Keep clear boundaries, say no when you want to.
Show your vulnerability: Take the responsibility to problem solve. Instead of feeling victimized, seek healthy solutions and take steps to change the situation.
Support and empathize, but do not take over: Do not assume the responsibility to take over the issues and the care of another person. Provide input and assistance when requested, but do not take on responsibility, guilt, or obligation where it is not due.
Relationships experience wear and tear at the hands of excess fighting, bickering and arguments. If you are experiencing constant bickering, irritation and fights, or serious relationship problems, seek out couples counseling so you can work on enhancing the health of your relationship.
Common relationship friction areas include:
Communication and closeness
Keeping the eyes on the prize involves not getting caught up in who is right and who is wrong, who needs to have the last word, or ego battles. It can be the subject matter or simply the communication style can trigger irritation. Key qualities needed for closeness and a positive connection in relationships are understanding, empathy, kindness, and compassion for the other.
An illicit affair coming to light can cause incredible pain and havoc in a committed relationship. If the affair does not rip the relationship apart, it will certainly redefine it. As long as both individuals are able to rise from a place of blame and move towards healing, there is even possibility of increased intimacy and honesty in the aftermath of an affair, perhaps allowing for discussion on topics previously avoided or neglected.
Partners may have very different views, practices and expectations about spending, budgeting and saving. This is a leading cause for friction in a relationship. It is important for each partner to discuss their feelings and beliefs about finances. Decisions such as joining finances, sharing expenses, budgeting and investing are extremely important to be clear about early on in the relationship. Friction due to differences in earning and handling of finances can show up anytime during a relationship, but starting off with clear communication and plan can help create understanding and mutual respect around this subject.
Dividing household responsibilities can get tricky. Often women feel they need to take the larger share of household chores while men get it easy. On the other hand men feel they get the raw end of not getting credit for all that they do around the house.
Differences in child-rearing and parenting are another common and big concern. Sometimes this shows up as one parent being stricter and the other more lenient. It would be beneficial for the couple to discuss their child rearing goals, ideals and practices beforehand and also to discuss how they will handle difference if and when they come up. Parents must have a handle on communication, discipline, rules, and compromise. If they do not, children may learn to play one against the other to get what they want.
Connection After Children
After children, dynamics in the relationship can change drastically so that the focus shifts with such ferocity on being a parent that being a partner or spouse is not given its due attention. The relationship can become too practical and transactional sapping the connection and closeness. It is important for young parents to remember and nurture their relationship along with fulfilling their roles as parents. This can be helped by maintaining emotional intimacy and being mindful and intentional of the quality of the relationship.
Partners may have differences in their desire for sex, which can lead to friction and feelings of intense distress. Open conversation about their desires, scheduling sex dates and accommodating for each individuals feelings is key.
Problems such as addictions to gambling, substance, alcohol, shopping, technology use, pornography, or exercise (anorexia in its extreme form) can cause extreme distress and loss in a relationship.
In that regard prioritizing work over the relationship without a reasonable balance can also cause havoc in the relationship leading to distancing and resentment. The term “workaholic” was coined for those who are consumed by work at the cost of other aspects of their lives.
Though every relationship has rough patches, successful couples learn to navigate the storms and complex life situations by sticking by their commitment, facing problems, seeking help from relationship experts and counsellors, reading books on the issues in their relationship, observing other successful couples, trial and error and supporting one another through it.
Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
Divorce, breakups, separations are painful even if you yourself want or initiate the break. Marriage is not only a social institution but typically also a host of tender memories and shared moments in a house that is turned into a home by the couple. Too frequently due to bitter experiences, irreconcilable differences, or inexplicable reasons couples turn to divorce as ending the relationship seems like the only solution.
Just as appropriate medical treatment is essential for medical distress, and surgery is required for certain conditions, psychological treatment, couples counselling or even marriage retreats are recommended for a flailing relationship, marital distress or a couple in crisis.
Today, due to fast paced lives, work commitments and pressures, smartphones, competition and the rat-race as well as unending choices, often couples do not have the luxury of sharing regular and relaxed time with each other while having many threats to safeguard their relationship from.
Healthy communication, humour, mutual respect, self-care for each partner, a balance of personal space and togetherness, shared responsibilities for the relationship and home are ideal for any marriage. But to achieve and maintain these in today’s world is a challenge.
When does one need marriage counselling?
When intimate relationships go awry or do not fulfil our expectations, it can be especially crushing. It is possible to change pain-causing communication and relationship patterns, and to heal from emotional distress, loneliness, resentment, contempt, lack of intimacy and compassion, or the weight of childhood or past trauma.
If you are tired, bored, do not feel a sense of passion or interest, are in distress, feel resentful, lonely or have emotionally shut down in your marriage or relationship make a choice to seek help. These are certain indications that a reassessment and revamping of your relationship can lead to a more fulfilling situation. Marriage or Couples Counselling or Couples Retreats can help guide and heal a relationship.
In case of violence or abuse in your relationship, seek appropriate help immediately through law enforcement, and/ or a counsellor who might be able to guide you on your options.
#5 ways to revamp your marriage and bonding:
Space and togetherness can be an important balance to navigate as a couple. Give each other space as well as plan for togetherness in contemporary busy lifestyles.
Self-care as a priority helps you bring your best self into the relationship. Self-care also implies “you are important”, “you are worth it”, and brings this understanding to the relationship. Loving yourself, and being happy with yourself makes you a happier partner.
Mutual respect includes agreeing to disagree. Understanding that each of you has a right to your opinions, thoughts and feelings and allowing a safe space for each other’s world views is of utmost importance for a healthy relationship.
Talking through problems openly and honestly can go a long way in helping to create understanding and not build up resentment. Communication is key.
Forgiveness is healing for the one who forgives as well as for the one who receives the forgiveness. Likewise apologizing when appropriate is essential. Allow with ease both forgiveness and apologizing in your relationship.
There are numerous factors that can cause a relationship to be painful. Just like we care about the health of our body, relationship also requires checkups when needed.
To fuel relationships, connection is an essential part of communication. Positive communication includes stating your feelings with clarity, and listening to your partner with the committed goal of understanding their perspective. Listening in this manner means you are not thinking about your response. After listening to what your partner has to say, reflecting back to them what you have heard helps clarify that you have understood what they are saying.
Keeping communication open and not withdrawing from difficult or sensitive topics is crucial. It may be easier at times to avoid each other or the topic and to not address the issue. However a relationship does not thrive on avoiding difficult communication. Keeping an honest dialogue going in key to connection and intimacy in relationships.
Avoiding assumptions and communicating assertively help avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and conflict. Even when you feel you know your partner, remind yourself that you cannot read their mind. Asking questions from a place of openness and curiosity helps keep communication positive and circumvent irritation, confusion, or hurt.
In short, healthy communication in relationships requires deep intention, patience, and practice, practice, and more practice.
Communication and Connection
It helps to:
Designate a weekly time to discuss the relationship, concerns, children and family, inner thoughts and feelings, jobs / careers and just check in to see how you and your partner are doing.
Prepare before hand for your weekly meeting with your partner and put some thought into what you want to address and ask.
Have clarity of thought and communication.
Reflect back and ask if you have understood correctly what your partner is saying on their part.
Use “I” statements and discuss your feelings about the topic.
Own your stuff and take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Actively listen to your partner without thinking your response while they are still talking.
Don’t forget to compliment the things about your partner that you appreciate.
Pay attention to your body language. Be open, kind, compassionate, welcoming, curious and let all this reflect in your tone, expression and stance.
Use appropriate body language to show interest such as leaning forward, and eye contact if culturally appropriate.
Face your partner and do not look away or at your phone, watch or computer.
Do not stand towering over your partner as this can feel threatening. Instead try to be at the same level as your partner.
Do not fidget, tap your feet or otherwise indicate you are bored or disinterested. In the same vein show genuine interest and concern.
Remember peace is more important than ‘being right’!
Agree to disagree and make room for two differing opinions.
Give your partner the floor to speak their mind without interrupting them. You will get your turn.
Use a kind, compassionate tone.
Take breaks if you need to. Address an issue only when you are ready.
Be open to suggestions, thoughts and feedback from your partner. In fact invite their feedback on your communication style.
Building Communication Skills
Not everyone communicates the same way. Some people are great listeners, while others may be excellent at tuning in to their feelings and sharing. Some people may take time to open up or need reassurance to express themselves.
It helps to:
Assess if you are speaking from a place of kindness and compassion, or from a place of fear, anxiety or anger. Speak only when it is the former. In case of fear, anxiety or anger, first cool down, process or be transparent about your feelings with your partner.
Share experiences and interests, and don’t shy away from discussing opinions.
Show you care by doing the things that are important to your partner.
Discuss important issues such as parenting, finances, careers, etc.
Offer comfort to your partner when they are in distress. A pat on the back, a kind look, and a loving gesture go a long way.
Prioritize your relationship over friendships, work and other matters. Ensure your partner knows they are a priority.
Self-Reflection and Introspection
Assess the causes of conflict and distress for each of you.
Assess the moments of connection and joy with your partner.
Think about what you do when you are in pain.
What are the topics you avoid discussing and why?
Are you the partner you aspire to be in your relationship? What are the barriers?
What not to do
Do not make assumptions. Ask questions instead and be open to hearing the answers.
Do not use the silent treatment.
Stay away from judgment, instead share your concerns.
Remember a win-win is the only option that makes for a sustainable relationship. You do not win by defeating your partner.
Do not bring in old fights into the present argument.
Do not blame, shame or use communication techniques that you know are ineffective.
Consider seeking support from a trained relationship counselor or marriage counselor to navigate difficult times or learn new skills to help deepen your connection with your partner. Your relationship is worth it!
Save Your Relationship
How to fix a failing relationship? How to save your marriage from ending? Can this marriage be saved? How to save a marriage when only one is trying? Fix my marriage!
Often it is only at the crisis stage that a couple finally reaches out to a therapist with questions like those stated above. In such cases, the couple has a high level of relationship distress and they want quick and effective guidance from the therapist.
Sometimes it is decades of contentious history that has turned into deep set resentment and needs to be worked through, while other times it is the discovery of an affair or some other transgression that has led to a crisis. Couples therapy requires commitment, and for couples who are dedicated to the process, it is possible to turn their relationship around from the brink of a breakup, with the help of a therapist who specializes in couples and relationship therapy.
During a difficult period, a couple may wonder what to do and whether it is even worth going to a therapist. Here are some tips to keep in mind while considering your next step:
Is there anything in the relationship that is worth fighting for?
For most it is easy to produce a list of their partner’s negative qualities, and behaviors that cause irritation and distress. Often people forget the positive aspects of their relationship; the attention is imbalanced on the negative qualities and distress causing patterns. Intentionally focusing on the positive traits and behaviors highlights reasons to fight for the relationship. A seemingly small positive quality can become the catalyst to start repairing the connection.
What are the reasons I want to fight for this relationship
Remind yourself and your partner of the benefits of remaining in the relationship and working things out. Benefits may include the impact on children, families, and finances.
Is this a difficult phase that will pass?
Ascertaining whether the current desire to end the relationship is due to a rough patch or the result of chronic distress, can be helpful in determining the course of action. If circumstantial the feelings may change once the circumstances change. Patience, self-care, couples therapy for coping and communication, and reliance on one’s support system can help deal with the pressure of a rough patch. While in the case of chronic distress, more intense measures such as couples therapy and couples retreats to assess and address deep underlying patterns may be considered.
Change what you can, and let go of what is not in your control
Focus on what is in your control instead of worrying about what your partner is or is not doing. No matter how difficult let go of the attempt to change your partner. Let your partner worry about what they need to change – you don’t! This will typically lead to better moods and a more relaxed feeling.
Is there something to be learnt from this impasse?
Viewing conflict as an opportunity for resolution and new growth is helpful. Conflict does not have to be negative if it leads to development. Relationships go through stages of development and a certain amount of conflict is inherent in relationships as they traverse through each stage. Conflict does not necessarily mean that the relationship is doomed. It can indicate simply that the relationship is going through growth and adjustment.
Do things that help the relationship.
Being mindful to stay away from blame and anger, using I statements to express your feelings, taking ownership for your part in the negative cycle, and attempting to keep communication open and constructive can lower distress and negative interactions. A hug, kiss, pat on the back, and verbal praise go a long way to express affection and appreciation. Spending time together and checking in with each other to see how your partner is doing are important. You may not feel like expressing affection or making an effort for positive interaction, but it is important to do it anyway to build back the positive relationship capital.
Consider the larger impact of a breakup
Do not make such a big decision without considering all aspects. If there is any doubt, wait till you have clarity. There is no rush. It takes a lot to build a relationship, but only a moment to break it.
Think about how it how it would feel to leave your relationship
Think about how it would be without your partner. Imagine your life and daily activities without them. Make your decision mindfully and with eyes wide open. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side, and it is not worth checking whether it is or isn’t without trying everything you can to save and heal your relationship.
Whether on the verge or divorce, stuck in doubt, wondering how to save the marriage, or how to make a flailing relationship work, reach out to a couples therapist who can guide and support you at this difficult time.
Sustenance of a healthy long term relationship, depends in large part on the balance of two opposing fundamental needs humans have. These are the need for fun, adventure, novelty, risk, and danger balanced with the need for safety, familiarity, dependability, predictability, and security. A primary task for a couples therapist often is to help the couple tune in to the missing aspect in their relationship and gage which of the two fundamental relationship needs are not being met, so that a balance of these two fundamental needs may be created, so that there is enough excitement as well as safety/ security.
An argument can quickly disintegrate and is no longer productive when everything said is dismissed, and responding becomes more important than understanding how the partner is feeling and what they are trying to communicate. Unproductive arguments typically lead to an impasse and shutdown with each partner retreating and resorting to the silent treatment, or an explosion with blame and shame.
To make an argument productive, it takes the ability to own your role in the fight and disintegration, and the willingness to repair that which has been damaged. There is something disarming about going to your partner and owning that your anger came in the way of understanding and resolving the issue; that you were so upset and so invested in what you wanted to say that you didn’t really listen to them; and to ask if the issue can be discussed again? It can be difficult to listen, learn, grow and change, and easy to be right and stick to your point in an argument.
A NEW WAY OF RELATING
Whatever may have triggered an argument, it is quick and easy to disintegrate and go down the familiar rabbit hole that couples go down having the same argument over and over again. If you want a different soup, change the ingredients, change the recipe, or change both the ingredients and the recipe. Using the same ingredients and the same recipe, will only give you the same soup. Similarly if you argue the same points, in the same manner, you are likely going to get no different outcome than the one you’ve already got the numerous times you’ve had this argument. If you want your partner to change, you must change yourself.
Interactions fall into patterns, and couples often play the same unyielding and dissatisfying role over and over. When one element in the mix changes, the entire mix changes. Just like changing one ingredient can change the soup entirely, one person unswervingly changing their input in the conversation, and in the relationship, will cause the other person to change their response. This shifts the quality of the conversation, and eventually the quality of the relationship.
Imagine how incredibly important it is for one to be able to ask, receive, and take, to give and share, to say ‘no’ and define boundaries, and to feel free and creative/playful in a romantic relationship. Some of these tasks are easier than others. Some find it difficult to say no or to receive, while some find it difficult to share, or be playful. The difficult areas are the areas of relationship-enhancing growth for the relationship.
BLAMING, SHAMING, & CRITICISM
Blaming and shaming are an extremely damaging part of arguments. Constant criticism from a partner is especially difficult to receive and can lead to deep resentment. It helps to remember that behind blaming, shaming and criticism typically is a wish for something to be different. Tell your partner what you want instead of telling them what they are doing wrong. This can open up a new door in the relationship, and shift negative interaction in a powerful way. Though it might feel vulnerable to communicate what you really want, it can lead to incredible shifts for your relationship.
A crisis in a relationship can serve as a wake up call or as a final blow. Whether a crisis causes the relationship to disintegrate or to drastically change is up to the couple. A relationship crisis alerts the couple something has to change radically, and that they cannot continue the way they have. While processing the crisis, often the couple will cycle through connection and disconnection, harmony and disharmony, hope and despair, until they ultimately make it or break it. Relationship counseling especially during times of crisis is highly recommended.
Commitment to the process, no matter how difficult can help the couple address long standing issues, crisis elements, and generate the change the couple needs to create a new relationship with one another.
Unfortunately, rather than being a time of joy, the holiday season for some can cause excess worrying, evoke additional loneliness, raise stress levels, exacerbate negative behavior patterns, and bring up unique challenges. As the year ends, there can be feelings of regret for past decisions, memories of old hurts, or feelings of being overwhelmed. It is important to remember to intentionally manage emotional challenges that come up.
While the positive aspects of the holiday season are many, especially the opportunity to connect and engage with friends and family, it is, as we know, not always a perfect story. Pressures can mount with any combination of stresses such as extra financial burden, having to face or handle complex relationships, or scheduling challenges all particular to the holiday season.
Sometimes external pressures create undue stress on intimate relationships and it becomes difficult to prevent irritation, bickering, disagreements, or longer standing resentment from flaring up.
Tips to lower stress and keep it positive through the holidays:
Don’t do it alone:
Its time for the team approach. Resist shutting down and instead do the opposite. Ask for help, be open to suggestions, and always remember to appreciate your partners efforts and presence in your life. Make it evident to your partner that you are there to support them as well. Nurture and foster your closeness – afterall a burden shared does feel lighter!
Don’t lose sight of your connection:
Holidays are a busy time for many. During such times, it is especially important to remind your partner how special they are. Amidst social engagements, work parties, times with family and friends, be sure to remember to spend some alone time with your partner letting them know they matter oh-so-much! Special treats such as a back-rub, or picking up dinner can go a long way specially during busy times.
At times of stress it can be incredibly helpful to find safety and comfort with a partner. Offer your partner understanding, comfort and a safe haven in your company. Care about their concerns and let them know in small and big ways that they mean the world to you!
Be open and communicative about your likes, dislikes, preferences, priorities etc. and be prepared to hear your partner’s perspective as well. Share your thoughts, feelings and challenges with your partner and tune in to listen to theirs. Make plans on how to tackle holiday challenges by sharing the work, and dividing the chores. Be prepared to be inclusive with traditions and priorities that may be important to either of you.
Deal with conflict:
Hope for the best, plan for some hiccups! Remind yourself and each other that kindness and compassion can make most things better. If conflict shows up work through it with kindness and compassion in mind. If upcoming events are especially anxiety provoking, explain your concerns and don’t hesitate to ask your partner for extra support or help working through a situation. Be readily available to offer your partner your support should they need it.
Festive seasons, holidays, high stress times, jointly experienced losses, extreme joys, or sorrows, etc. are such that they can either bring a couple closer or create extreme rifts. Holidays especially can serve to remind one of loved ones who have passed and / or family that is difficult to deal with. Whatever may be the case, the high stress along with other holiday accoutrements such as drinking, partying, and family politics exacerbate chances of relationship distress. Studies show that around such times chances of one night stands, flings, and affairs increase as well. Heightened emotions and nostalgic feelings during the holiday season may increase vulnerability and lead one to seek comfort outside the primary relationship.
Self-care must be made a priority especially in the holiday season. Practicing self-care provides a healthy model for others in the family and gives your partner the unspoken permission to commit to their own self-care as well. Self-care promotes healthy relationships because it brings a healthy you to your relationship.
Self-care tips for a healthy YOU:
Ensure you get daily time for yourself, even if just ten minutes to check in
Treat yourself with kindness and compassion… as you would a best friend!
Make healthy and nutritious meal choices
Eat and sleep on time
Be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine intake
Prepare beforehand for difficult family interactions if you expect these
Use your support system and reach out to you partner to share your feelings
Be aware of your physical and emotional limits and respect them
Do not take on financial stress beyond your capacity
Remind yourself it is okay to say no to things you don’t want to do
Typically it is not one single factor or reason that leads to infidelity. Additionally sometimes the reasons for infidelity evolve and change… just like life. For example, it might be attraction that starts the affair, but attachment and complex life circumstances that sustains it.
Whatever may be the reason or combination of reasons driving an affair, some common factors are usually applicable: 1) there is always another option be it couples therapy, or separation / divorce, or any of the myriad of options in between these two, and 2) there is usually eventual pain involved for all parties engaging in infidelity.
Cheating is an age old phenomenon and a severely chastised act, and yet it continues to plague many committed relationships, often with much at stake such as divorce, social ostracizing, estranging children, financial loss etc. The underlying question is why cheat?
Why do people cheat in relationship ? Common reasons
The reasons for cheating may be layered and complex with multiple dynamics at play. Here are some general reasons that can add to the myriad web of causes:
Unhappiness: Feeling restless, unhappy and yearning for something different or a missing part of life can lead to cheating. This is discontent with oneself and not necessarily with the relationship. The affair represents seeking fulfillment for the missing aspect.
Boredom: The attraction to something new, different and unknown brings excitement and promise in a way that the familiar does not. If the zing and passion has faded and the relationship feels mundane, starting something new can be very enticing. While the comfort of a long term relationship is stable and predictable, the excitement of a new relationship is energizing. Most people want both, and people in successful long term relationships have figured out how to bring the excitement into their stable relationship, instead of seeking it outside.
Resentment: Anger unexpressed or unresolved, turning into resentment is poison for a relationship. Resentment may fuel feelings of revenge. Cheating serves the purpose of hurting and getting back at the partner, and feeling a sense of justification.
Insecurity: Feelings of insecurity and struggles with self-esteem and self-worth can be painful. Without reassurance and validation in a relationship, one may be tempted to seek it outside. Feeling desired, and worthy are extremely powerful temptations that an affair often fulfills.
Immaturity: If there is a lack of experience or understanding of what a committed relationship requires, one may give in to temptation, attraction and lust without realizing the consequences of hurting their partner.
Sexual Addiction: This leads to engaging in promiscuous or sexual behaviors in order numb or distract from emotional distress.
Desire to Break-Up: One may be stuck in a dissatisfying relationship without the courage to voice their desire to end it due to fear of hurting their partner or the fear of other repercussions may be paralyzing. Or as the case might be one might cheat and want their partner to find out and initiate the break up.
Adrenalin Addiction: The rush from secrecy, hiding and managing two or more relationships may be titillating, providing novelty and excitement that is difficult to give up. Additionally there may be constant seeking of a new relationship on the side in order to enjoy the rush of the initial romance or limerence.
Attachment wounds: There may be childhood attachment and intimacy wounds that lead to an inability to commit to one relationship.
Narcissism and selfishness: A feeling of entitlement due to success, looks, wealth or power may lead to affairs. Having affair partners, multiple relationships, or sexual adventures may feel like a right and entitlement in such cases.
Impulsive Behavior: Thoughtlessly one may indulge in cheating on an impulse without consideration for repercussions or long term effects.
Neglect, Loneliness, Growing Apart: Feeling alone in a relationship can be excruciatingly painful. In case a partner feels neglected or lonely they may be vulnerable to the attention of another.
Affairs can be physical, emotional, or both; conducted through text only, virtual means, phone or in person. Cheating on a partner may be done via flattery, flirting, fantasy, porn or even just eye contact. It can start with mere flirtation intended to add a bit of the missing spark to life. And it begins to feel so good, that soon it evolves into a full-fledged affair. Cheating has been redefined to include emotional, physical, spiritual transgressions, as well as transgressions of the imagination.
What is a transgression depends on the spoken and unspoken rules of each individual relationship. When infidelity is discovered, often there is opportunity for deep transformation. Though recovering from infidelity can be an incredibly painful process for a couple, an affair may give their relationship a wakeup call and an impetus to make necessary shifts.
Expectations in modern relationships that a partner will fulfill all ones needs for companionship, romance, emotional connection, mental stimulation, sexual excitement, financial fulfillment, etc. are a tall order, and primed for failure. Additionally the presence of variety and the ease of access make a recipe for infidelity.
For contemporary love, it is all the more essential to have realistic expectations and to invest in oneself along with investing in the growth and nurturance of the relationship.
Though you decided you will not fall back into the same old argument cycle with your partner… you find yourself precisely down the very path you swore to never tread again.
Are you sick of the fighting?
Fighting is not detrimental for relationships, however it is important to be intentional in how, and how not to fight, and it is important to know boundaries.
It can be healing to create awareness and respect for the fact that you and your partner are entirely different people with different views and different ways of processing. Your partner’s life experiences are different from yours. Just simply acknowledging your partner’s experience in a particular instance can help de-escalate and defuse an oncoming or ongoing fight.
For example it can be healing for your partner to hear you say “I understand your feeling unloved when I work late several days a week, because it seems you interpret my working late as my not caring for you enough to spend time with you. But that is not at all how it is for me…” It can be exceptionally powerful and satisfying for your partner to feel they are heard, understood and their feelings acknowledged. At the same time you are still holding true to your experience… of how it is for you.
Remember things that are said in anger may not hold true. Even if you feel strongly during the fight, it does not mean you will feel the say way about the matter afterwards. After tempers have cooled, the feelings might change completely.
Remember to fight smart, using ‘I’ more than ‘you’. Don’t place blame. Accentuate the positive instead of pointing out the negative. For example, rather than saying “you didn’t wash the dishes even though you knew how tired I was”, you might want to say “I would appreciate your help in washing the dishes.” Or “I feel cared for when you wash the dishes.”
Remember not to use ‘always’ and ‘never’. In the heat of the moment it is tempting to use these words, but they rarely, if ever, truly apply. Look a bit deeper into your situation and you will see this to ring true. Limit your fight to that particular incident, and refrain from generalizing and using ‘always’ or ‘never’.
Remember to not criticize, condemn, stonewall or turn defensive…
Remember it’s your partner you are in this with; your loved one you are sorting things out with… it’s okay to be vulnerable!
Most relationships go through seasons and even daily weather within these seasons. To keep healthy, most relationships require intentional and mindful maintenance. Being invested in your relationship, putting in the work and weathering the storms with steadfastness, if and when they come, is key.
To repair is to re-pair
Your fight may be symbolic of the real issues which typically includes feeling unheard, unloved, undervalued… or some version thereof. In a relationship, if an injury has landed advertently or in-advertently it is important to take steps to repair. Acknowledging, then validating, and then empathizing with your partner are ways to de-escalate and repair.
Here are some tips on addressing relationship distress:
Condemn The Act Not The Person
Instead of criticizing your partner, talk about how it makes you feel when a hurtful act is done by your partner. Condemn the act and not your partner.
Show Compassion For Each Other
Creating a caring and compassionate dynamic in your relationship is an evergreen investment, and little acts of kindness, go a long way!
Listen… Really Listen
Listening with interest and attentiveness can lead to not only questions and new curiosities… but great conversation!
Stop Blaming And Accept
Blame does not lead to resolution. Look at past mistakes with the goal of learning from them, not with the goal of finding your partners mistakes. Accept past mistakes with grace.
Acknowledge The Positive
On seeing positive behaviors, actions, suggestions, solutions… acknowledge and encourage these!
Recall The Reasons That Drew You Together
Don’t forget your love story!
Hold Back The Reaction… Act, Don’t React
While trying to resolve a fight think through everything you say… don’t react! Consider how to express calmly and constructively, from a place of compassion. Your reaction may include reflection – reflecting back to your partner calmly what you heard them say.
Talk When It Doesn’t Tire The Mind
Avoid sensitive conversation topics when you are tired, overwhelmed or overly distraught. It may lead to flare ups.
Prioritize Relationship Not Ego
Remember it is okay to not always have the last word. It is okay to not always be right. And it is okay to prioritize love above all else!
Even when things are awry… a simple compassionate (non-sexual) gesture of touch is a non-verbal way of telling your partner you love them.
In conclusion, with consistent and intentional effort, and the realization that you are in your relationship with a whole other person who will not always be the way you want her or him to be, and who may interpret the same instance vastly differently from you, you find you have the space for these differences, and you are fighting less.