By: Costa Provis
Let’s face it, being in a relationship means dealing with occasional disagreements, so conflict resolution skills are important to build if you are dating or married. If you think about all the various decisions and activities we need to agree upon on a daily basis, the potential for a misstep is actually quite high. Therefore negotiation and compromise are critical.
We have probably all had the experience of getting into an argument over something “silly” or “petty” – but these triggers are usually not quite as straight forward as they may seem. Here are some of the more common things couples fight about, and some ideas about what it may “really” be about. I’m a big believer in the idea that once we know what we’re really upset about we’re much more likely to find some real resolution.
Usually when someone is having a strong emotional response to their partner’s indecisiveness, it’s about something a bit deeper than just what movie we should watch. Be especially mindful of words like “always” or “never” in your thoughts and opinions about your partner in those moments, and ultimately try to address those specific thoughts with them. At the end of the day, it’s THOSE thoughts that you are really reacting to.
Spending money on something not agreed upon. How cool would it be if both members of the relationship always agreed on how to spend money, and how much things are really worth. If only we prioritized things in the same way, and saw eye to eye on saving vs spending.
Well, if you’re like many other couples, there is a good chance that on occasion you may experience a disagreement about this topic. On some level the conflict is about money (actual dollars and cents) but just as likely it’s also about sticking to a budget, or being reliable. Money is woven into matters of trust, and responsibility, and usually not as simple as just sticking to the budget.
Another common topic couples fight about is leaving clothes or “stuff” lying around the house. Again, as with all triggers, part of the reaction is truly about the mess, and keeping the place looking good. Another part though, is the reaction to someone who is being inconsiderate, especially if one member of the partnership is consistently doing this while the other is typically more neat and organized.
Think about how you are interpreting your partner’s mess then try to communicate it to them, perhaps if they fully understood how you felt about it they may make a change.
When someone in the relationship is drinking too much or too often, this can also be a source of conflict. This can be quite a loaded topic, and I’m not even necessarily talking about alcohol abuse. Think about being at a wedding, or celebrating a holiday, or maybe just a Tuesday night at the local saloon. Being over-served can become a strong trigger, often linked to interpreting that person as being unreliable.
Quite often there is a larger pattern that involves reliability which gets triggered in times like these. That’s not to say that drinking too much is a good thing, just that sometimes the thing we are actually upset about is reliability not drinking.
And last but certainly not least, not feeling sexually satisfied is a major source of conflict in relationships. There is something about the vulnerability involved in sex and intimacy that make us really takes things personally – quite often leading to feelings of rejection and frustration. Whether it’s consciously or not, it seems like if you don’t care about my sexual needs you must not care about me.
However, instead of identifying our hurt feelings and expressing them, we sometimes choose to be rude and hurtful in our reactions. After all, hurt people hurt people, so if you are not feeling sexually satisfied please don’t keep it to yourself and let it creep out of you in the form of being hurtful. Instead, let your partner know how you are feeling and make specific suggestions that might help to enhance sexual pleasure for you both.
In conclusion, it is quite normal to experience frustrations and disagreements in your relationship, and therefore not something to freak out about. However, it would benefit everyone involved if you ask yourself what is this really about? In part the reaction is about the actual trigger, but even more so the reaction is about something a little bit deeper – don’t be afraid to dig to find that resolution you desire.