How to avoid destroying your relationships
Relationships are slippery. One moment, you have the most loving, caring partner in the world, and in the other, you're at loggerheads with the same person. Arguments, silent treatments and resentments can build up fairly quickly and before you know it, you are thinking — how did it go from 10 to 1 so quickly? Well, even if it doesn't feel like it right then, there are ways to pivot back to a better position.
Communication has long been touted as the most effective life-vest for a drowning relationship. But what if we told you that it doesn't always work? Let's take an example. Imagine you and your partner have had a fresh fight. The woman in the relationship is probably looking to communicate with her male counterpart and tell him what he should fix in order to avoid such arguments in the future. She hopes that by doing this, she will get through to her partner and they can finally move forward. However, as soon as she bares her heart, her partner freezes. Or gets defensive. Sounds familiar? This is because a male romantic partner often takes that well-intended communication as a message of failure. He starts to feel ashamed, inadequate and weak, and copes with it either by going into victim mode or starting to twist her words around to hurt her back. Bottom line — her mission goes down in flames and she now feels even more resentful and lonelier than before.
So, what now? If communication is not working, most people would think of letting things slide. They would decide to pick their battles and not jump to offer a solution as soon as a disagreement breaks out. This helps preserve their mental peace and the proverbial boat is not rocked. Until their partner manages to get on their last nerve. It could be a small thing, such as forgetting to take out the trash but it brings out a massive reaction in the other. Suddenly, it's not just about the trash but about the myriad other things they have "let slide." The partner on the receiving end now feels cheated. All this time s/he has been led to think that they had done everything right and it now turns out that their partner had just been holding things in. The proverbial boat has now sunk.
What then, could the solution lie in? Relationship expert Pat Love says that often, what a person perceives to be the problem, is not the real issue at all. So, if we revert back to our previous example, the problem may not be not taking out the trash — the problem might lie in being taken for granted. One could be feeling that they always do these jobs but their partner forgets to do it the one time they are entrusted with it.
Pat's solution is to realise the actual issues and then address them without talking or complaining about them incessantly. She believes in a deeper connection that builds when two people are emotionally close and genuinely at ease with each other. Instead of mindless communication and bottling emotions, her solution is to wait for that smooth sailing lull in the relationship for having "the talk." She further proposes that the communication take place in a non-confrontational way.
According to her, it is only when talking is a positive exchange of feelings, dreams and aspirations, and when both partners know that they are on the same team, not opposing parties in a war, does the relationship evolve into a warmer, deeper, romantic partnership.