As couples we tend to organize ourselves around roles or “reciprocal positions” that are complimentary to one another. These behaviours allows couples to function is a fairly predictable way. Think about your relationship and identify the roles you and your partner(s) play. The optimist and the realist. The excitable one and the level one. The introvert and the extrovert. The care giver and comfort seeker. The provider and the nurturer. The pursuer and the distancer. The over functioner and the under functioner. The stressed one and the easygoing one. The disciplinarian and the caregiver.
These differences that at one time attracted us to our partner can become the things of polarization, dividing us. Just add stress, a life events, unresolved conflict and over time the fault line becomes clear.
The other becomes “the problem” and the issues get 100% of the air time. Both people now organizing around the challenges, feeding it with attention and focus. Maybe we become fused, in the jumbled up and disorganized way, unable to sort the feelings and thinking from one person to the next. Communication becomes impossible.
Couples work can help. But if your partner is not game for therapy or coaching you can learn many new things that when applied to your life will have a positive impact to the quality of your relationships. Don’t let your own growth be contingent on your relationships. In fact, let it be the thing that benefits many stakeholders in your relationships.