Couples often come into couples counseling sharing how the smallest and seemingly insignificant details of life are quite often the topics of fights. So many of us have found ourselves fighting over mundane parts of our lives and end up hurting each other in such big ways in trying to resolve these issues. I often describe it as a tornado that, once moving, seems to pull every little thing into itself in a way that feels completely out of control. Stronger feelings often show themselves in romantic relationships, making romantic relationships much more difficult than a friendship.
Upon honest examination in couples counseling people find that the content of their fights is not what they where fighting about. Unmet needs and past hurts continue to find new avenues to be acted out on each other. The first step in stopping this reactive fighting is to become aware of what is really being played out between two people. If you can be mindful of the motivation you have a chance at trying to work out the larger issues underneath.
Vulnerability and speaking from our heart is a skill many of us posses, but find difficult when feeling hurt, betrayed or angry. All of our good intention simply goes out the window. The toughest work in couples counseling is stripping the reactive, defensive and blaming behavior and instead speak directly to how one feels and what one might need for themselves in the relationship. You may feel like you have tried this and failed, or the need was just never met. Even though that may be true, coming back to the core issue and staying there is still the only way to mend it. Once two people start to act respectfully and become safe, it amazing how often new ideas and willingness can be inspired for both parties.
Once two people understand each other, feel more connected and willing , goals can be created by the couple that will be the groundwork for meeting each others needs and healing the past hurtful behavior. Couples counseling can keep the maintenance practices alive , by continuing to hold each person responsible for their intentions and accountable for their new practices. Focusing on appreciation, friendship and sweetness are a big part of healing up past hurts and help pave the way for a happy, fulfilling relationship.